Remote work has become a go-to option for many businesses in the modern age. It offers employees the benefits of enhanced flexibility and helpful convenience. From an economical standpoint, remote working reduces overhead costs for employers while also potentially boosting productivity due to a lack of workplace distractions.
Research shows a 56% reduction in unproductive time when working at home vs. the office.
But there are some drawbacks to working outside the office. It’s crucial to be aware of the cyber security risks that come with remote and hybrid work. Keeping an eye on device and network security isn’t as easy. About 63% of businesses have experienced a data breach due to remote employees.
Striking the perfect balance between allowing remote work and protecting your business from security risks is possible. We’ve compiled a list of the major threats associated with remote working and provided helpful advice on preventing them. Employers and employees can benefit from taking this information into account to ensure a secure work environment for all.
Remote Work Risks & Mitigation
Weak Passwords and Lack of Multi-Factor Authentication
Strong passwords and avoiding the reuse of passwords across accounts are vital for protecting sensitive company information from cyber threats. It is especially important to prioritise security when remote employees access corporate networks, databases, and other confidential data from different devices.
To mitigate this risk, you should create strong and unique passwords for each account. Additionally, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification. Employers can set up access management systems. These solutions help automate the authentication process. They can also deploy safeguards like contextual MFA.
Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks
When operating remotely, it’s important to be mindful of the various Wi-Fi networks you’re connecting to. Public hotspots and other home networks may not have the necessary security measures in place to protect your confidential information from malicious actors. To safeguard your data, take steps to ensure that any networks you access are secure.
To protect company data, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Turn on the VPN when connecting to public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. A VPN encrypts the internet traffic. This ensures that data remains secure even on untrusted networks.
Phishing is a major issue that can be particularly dangerous for those who are working remotely. Fraudulent emails or messages might be sent to unsuspecting individuals, attempting to deceive them into revealing login details or clicking on harmful attachments. To protect yourself, it’s important to remain vigilant and take necessary steps to safeguard your information.
To defend against phishing attacks, be cautious when opening emails. Especially those from unknown sources. Avoid clicking on suspicious links. Verify the sender’s email address.
Also, be wary of any requests for sensitive information. If in doubt, contact your IT support team to confirm the legitimacy of the communication.
Insecure Home Network Devices
Many remote workers use Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These include smart speakers, home security systems, and thermostats. These devices can introduce vulnerabilities to your home network if not properly secured.
To address this risk, make sure to change the default passwords on your IoT devices. Also, keep them updated with the latest firmware. Consider creating a separate network for your IoT devices. A “guest” network can isolate them from your work devices and data.
Employers can improve security for remote teams using an endpoint device manager. Such as Microsoft Intune, or similar. These devices make it easier to manage security across many employee devices.
Lack of Security Updates
Ensuring your devices and applications are kept up-to-date is an essential part of cyber security. Remote employees can find it difficult to stay on top of these updates due to tight schedules or a lack of knowledge. Sadly, criminals may take advantage of gaps in outdated software to gain unauthorised access to systems.
To mitigate this risk, enable automatic updates on devices and software whenever possible. Regularly check for updates. Install them promptly to ensure you have the latest security patches.
Data Backup and Recovery
For remote workers, safeguarding their data is a must. Having a dependable backup and recovery system is critical in order to protect against potential loss or damage. It’s wise to store valuable files to either secure cloud storage sites or an external hard drive – this allows for quick and easy retrieval if ever your device falls into the wrong hands.
Insufficient Employee Training
At a time when remote working is essential, it’s critical for companies to offer their employees proper cybersecurity training. This will ensure that staff are aware of the security risks and best practices they should be following – an oversight which, regrettably, many businesses make. As such, employees may find themselves unprepared for any potential online threats they could face.
Organisations must provide comprehensive cyber security training to remote workers. This training should cover topics such as:
- Identifying phishing emails
- Creating strong passwords
- Recognising suspicious online behaviour
- New forms of phishing (such as SMS-based “smishing”)
Get Help Improving Remote Team Cyber security
As remote work continues to rise, it’s vital to be mindful of the security risks that may present themselves. Investigate these possibilities and take proactive measures for protecting your data. If you need assistance, our team is here to help – just reach out!
Get in contact with us today to schedule a chat.