According to statistics, at least 50% of company security breaches occur because a remote employee has failed to secure their device and network. These security breaches cost companies an average of $8.94 million annually.
Usually, when companies allow employees to access company data to be able to work remotely, there are concerns about data security and safety. Without the proper wireless connection and online security protocols, it is easy for a company to lose data through computer and device hacks.
As more and more companies change their practices to allow employees to work remotely, the need for better security measures grows. Here are the top security risks of working remotely and how to overcome them.
Top 3 Hidden Security Risks Of Remote Working
Unsecured Home Networks
In a typical company setup, the enterprise goes to extra lengths to ensure the security of the IT infrastructure. They use network monitoring tools that halt threats before they become a problem while using other solutions that limit threat approach vectors.
In contrast, most home networks and computers do not come with the same security measures. Most home networks run on consumer-grade firewalls and free antivirus programs that do not do much to wade off threats. This makes remote workers a more significant risk to a company’s security than on-site workers.
Using unreliable and unsecured home networks to access company data and files puts the entire organization at risk of hacking or data loss and even threatens business continuity.
Enhanced Attack Vectors
When most company work occurs online, remote employees are exposed to cybersecurity threats targeting web applications and services. Apart from being aggressive, some threats use fileless attacks to avoid being detected, making them invisible to signature and machine learning antivirus programs.
With tens of employees regularly attending video conferences, hackers can hijack admin privileges to insert malicious code into the company’s network. Some hackers send fake conference invites as covers for phishing scams. The number of reported phishing and adware attacks grew from 2000 to 90,000 weekly.
Limited Opportunities For Redemption
A qualified IT specialist is always on standby to attend to an infected machine in an on-site office. This makes it easy to stop the malware attack before it gains access to the entire company network. This is not always possible with infected remote computers. If a computer used remotely to access company files is infected, the IT department has limited opportunity or capability to respond.
This causes the attack to last longer, worsening the damage. Even when an IT specialist gains access to the infected machine, sometimes the damage done is irreversible.
How To Overcome Remote Work Risks And Remain Protected
Protect Your Virtual Footprint
When you spend countless hours working online, you leave a virtual footprint that can be traced back to your IP address and, eventually, your computer system. Hackers are always lurking on popular sites looking for vulnerabilities to exploit.
Staying safe while working from home involves ensuring your activity is untraceable. You can protect your computer network by using a VPN. This way, all your work files and access routes to your work network are encrypted and invisible to hackers.
It is also essential to invest in the best antivirus program to protect your virtual footprint and always ensure your firewall is updated.
Invest In Protected Access
If your company is not using MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication), now would be the best time to implement this security protocol. MFA protects identity and access to company files across remote locations where the employee has to provide an access code to enter the network. MFA reduces the likelihood of unauthorized access and attacks on the company network.
Another way to protect access is to make employees use stronger passwords that are unique to their work accounts. Home routers, software, and computers accessing the company servers should be protected using strong passwords and updated OS versions for the latest security patches.
Undertake Mandatory Security Awareness Training
The leading cause of the rise in remote work risks is that most employees do not get any security training when they start working remotely. Security training for remote employees makes it easier for employees to identify different types of attacks and the best ways to avoid them.
Companies that train remote employees on security awareness are 70% less likely to experience cybersecurity threats through remote working.
Have An Active Risk Management Protocol
When it comes to a company’s online security, it is important to assume and expect things to go wrong. You need to have a risk management protocol in case there is a data breach. Come up with preventative measures policies for cybersecurity threat situations.
A risk management protocol is an action plan and policy that helps mitigate the risk of an attack or the effects of an attack on the company.
Ensure Safe File Sharing And Download
Part of remote work security responsibility is identifying malicious downloads. While working online, employees need to be advised on the dangers of downloading random applications onto their work computers. Most of these downloads carry malware, viruses, and even insecure protocols.
They should also practice caution when sharing work-related files online. It is safer to use company-issued applications for file storage and sharing. The company should enhance the security of file-sharing apps with the latest security protocol and monitoring tools.
Practice Safe Conferencing
Part of remote work involves numerous virtual meetings and conferences as part of the collaboration efforts. Enhancing privacy measures will protect the conference from uninvited or unwanted attendees. The lock meeting feature on most conference call services is meant for this purpose.
You can also protect your meetings using passcodes, where the password is shared with the invited attendees only. You can also prevent the unauthorized download of content during a conference call by altering the content sharing settings. This way, attendees can access sensitive content but cannot download it.
It has become increasingly easy for hackers to exploit company network vulnerabilities through remote workers in today’s digital world. The tips discussed in this article can go a long way in securing a company’s network and preventing data breaches.
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Brad Smith is a technology expert at TurnOnVPN, a non-profit promoting a safe and free internet for all. He writes about his dream for a free internet and unravels the horror behind big techs.