Strengthening Cybersecurity in a Remote Work Environment
An eminent 2020 study revealed that as many as 74% of organizations plan to shift a good part of their workforce to work in a remote environment permanently. Although this is good news for a lot of employees to some extent, this will pose a lot of challenges for cybersecurity in a work from home environment.
As stated in a recent survey, 9 out of 10 respondents believe that WFH(Work From Home) poses a huge cybersecurity risk, and we believe it is quite justifiably so.
Hence, in an effort to help you maximize cybersecurity in these challenging times, Payatu is bringing you 5 crucial work from home security tips and practices to help fortify your organization.
Importance of cybersecurity in remote work:
Negligence to even the simplest of cybersecurity practices can leave you susceptible to cyberattacks like Phishing, which is the most prominent form of social engineering attack deployed by hackers in 2020 to target remote workers, as confirmed by new reports.
A recent study revealed that 1 out of every 3 organizations has had experienced a security breach due to actions caused by a remote worker.
In order to mitigate these threats, one needs to be aware of the security risks associated with them. Let us go over them one by one:
1. Risk due to non-secure network:
A remote work environment typically consists of the usage of non-corporate network services such as home networks or even public networks available in a nearby coffee shop.
There lies a certain degree of uncertainty about the security of these networks. While accessing company networks, it is of the utmost priority that a dependable network service is used to restrain any external attempt to accessing company resources.
2. Use of multiple devices:
Companies can’t simply secure every device their employee uses. Case in point, a well-secured laptop is incomparable to a personal smartphone, which is relatively more exposed to system threats. This further complicates the implemented data protection measures and poses a cyber risk.
3. Interlacing professional and personal use:
As previously described, the use of personally owned devices for work constitutes a greater risk to company resources. For example, suppose a malicious website or application is in use as you access your company. In that case, it may give hackers an opportunity to create a gateway or a backdoor to access company data.
4. Risk of targeted attacks:
The aforementioned rise of phishing attacks, paired with increased attempts of brute-forcing, delivering ransomware, and malware, have spiked up the risk of being a victim to these cyberattacks. Without immediate IT support available due to logistical challenges, the prohibition of such cyberattacks requires more effort to be taken by the employee. An organization may have certain policies and guidelines for work from home, and compliance to such practices will help fortify your cybersecurity.
Five security tips for remote work:
Regardless of whether you are working in the comfort of your home or a busy café, you will be needed to follow certain cybersecurity guidelines to ensure the protection of your company data and resources.
Here are 5 cybersecurity practices that you can implement while working remotely or from your home:
1. Incorporate usage of Cloud-based storage applications:
Implementation of cloud-based or web-based storage applications allows the employees to store and transfer documents and data securely. In case of theft/loss of the physical device or targeted ransomware, all the company data would still be available on the cloud to be accessed by authorized employee accounts.
2. Utilize corporate-issued VPN:
Other than being able to evade geographical restrictions to access location-specific content, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have the merit of being able to confide your online activity.
VPNs employ one of IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) or SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to encrypt all of your internet traffic, adding an extra layer of security and making it very difficult for hackers to intercept and gain access to company information systems.
3. Enforce Multi-Factor Authentication and Password Practices:
Even the most basic practice of changing account passwords every 2-3 months would secure your account from being a victim of a brute force attack. Ensure good password practices like implementing special characters, numbers, and capitalization.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), a superset of 2FA(Two-Factor Authentication), uses One-Time Password technology, in addition to using USB tokens, smartphones, and smart cards, or even the recently introduced biometric authentication system, to impede unauthorized users from gaining access to your account, even with the password.
4. Enhance end-to-end security:
Corporate devices generally come equipped with anti-virus and other implemented security measures and software to guard against malware attacks. If you’re using a non-company issued gadget, ensure that you’re using a reliable anti-virus software.
Companies can also implement the use of additional device encryption software like DriveStrike, which enables them to wipe devices remotely in case of device theft or malicious use.
5. Employee education and basic practices:
Ensure your co-workers are up to date with the latest potential threats. Train your employees on identification and mitigation of phishing and malware attack attempts.
Prioritize usage of a separate home internet network for work and ensure that your router password is strong.
As numerous European nations go into a second lockdown and many countries still in one, it has become inevitable that the work from home practices will be continuing for the foreseeable future.
Remote work wasn’t the preferred channel of work until now due to its evident cybersecurity threats. Yet, it is still very much possible to conduct secure work practices from your home, even if your employees sit thousands of miles apart.
These methods would help you secure your devices to a reasonable extent. However, to fortify your organizational systems to the maximum, you can avail of Payatu’s security consultation services.