Although working remotely allows for a better work-life balance and eliminates the constant need for commuting, it also enables cybersecurity gaps and loopholes to creep in. With the wide use of home networks, personal mobile devices, and tablets, in addition to other distractions, this has become a real challenge for IT professionals to regulate and protect.
Now that many businesses have adapted to a hybrid workforce, working from home may be sticking around for a long time. This just means that cybersecurity must be even tighter than ever, and that there are strategic processes in place to ensure that every device, in each location is secure.
Here are the top vulnerable areas of cybersecurity to look out for when working remotely:
1. Unsafe Home Connections
This may be one of the biggest areas of cyber risk while working remotely since many users may be on personal networks that are not secure. If regular updates are not being performed or not done regularly enough to personal routers and networks, then this creates a susceptible environment to cyber breaches.
Unlike personal networks, company networks have layers of protection like firewalls, which can monitor any suspicious activity happening. Most home routers do not have any firewalls in place, and this can create a large security gap.
2. The use of apps
Many businesses are using common everyday cloud apps to perform business tasks. Some third-party applications are not secure and are avenues for cyber threats to infiltrate. Cybersecurity is also needed to monitor these applications to ensure that they are not allowing malicious activity to creep in. Since many professionals use cloud-based apps to access emails, attachments and download files, this opens more avenues for threat actors to infiltrate.
3. User Exposure
Employees themselves are one the biggest security risks for working remotely. Whether they lack the necessary cyber training, or act carelessly, they can unknowingly give criminals access to their private company devices and files. One study found that 35% of remote employees feel tired and have little energy while working from home, and so persons may not be as alert or diligent towards unsuspecting cyber threats they may come across. With other preoccupations on people’s mind, cybersecurity is sometimes the last thing they think about, especially if they already lack the necessary training.
Criminals are constantly innovating how they scam and steal data from businesses, therefore it should not be a surprise that employees are constantly falling for these types of scams.
The number of phishing and other common types of cyber threats increased exponentially during the pandemic, and the lack of training and knowledge is one of the biggest cyber loop holes of working remotely.
4. Lack of concern
Companies are starting to train their employees about common cyber risks, and more people are getting familiar with how to identify a cyber threat and act accordingly when they see one. However, with the busy day to day activities and projects going on, people become lax on being diligent. Many security protocols are forgotten, and people lose sight of these concerns while working from home, unless they are consistently reminded.
There are even studies that show that during the pandemic, people were worried about their jobs and financial situations. Many people started preparing for the worse case scenario, and 26% of respondents said that they were tempted to make duplicates of important company files as a precaution, against their company policy. This is highly problematic because it illustrates how crucial it is for companies to have data loss prevention and procedures in place to avoid theft or fraud.
5. Weak Passwords
Even though many companies utilize basic security tools like firewalls, VPNs, and software, these are not enough to protect against “easy to guess” passwords that employees have. If a password is easy to remember, then it is probably easy to crack by a criminal. These hackers work smarter, not harder and so they target accounts that may have weak passwords with tools like password generators and coding bots which guess passwords and check for any duplicates.
6. Ransomware & Phishing
Phishing attacks are very common, and more companies are now being hit with ransomware. These types of scams are specifically designed to trick employees into giving up their sensitive information or downloading malware on their devices. Even though ransomware and phishing are all over the news, and should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, it is still wreaking havoc and fooling unsuspecting users. Phishing emails spiked over 600% in February 2020, and criminals have since leveraged the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic to scam people. They pose as legitimate sources to request login details or other sensitive files, and then once they are successful, they can lock access to it and demand a ransom.
7. Unencrypted file sharing
Even though many companies encrypt files that are on their network, they may not do this for other files that are shared from one location to the next. This can open an avenue for criminals to intercept files that are being shared to employees or clients, and can lead to stolen data, ransomware and even identity theft.
8. Bring Your Own Devices
At the onset of the pandemic,some employees began working from home with their own devices in place of their work phones, laptops, printers etc. This creates havoc for managing their IT infrastructure with a BYOD setup. Whether it’s taking important calls or leaving voicemails with private details, employees may not be thinking about encrypting these.
If your business needs reliable cybersecurity services to keep your remote or hybrid environment safe, then we are here to guide you. Ensure your business and staff stays cyber safe. Book a meeting here for a FREE IT Consultation.