Security Lapses in Remote Work Put Businesses at Risk

Laura BednarCybersecurity and Vulnerabilities

Remote Work Cybersecurity Risks

The Coronavirus has caused a sharp increase in the number of people working remotely. While this is a practice of “social distancing” that can reduce the spread of the virus, it can compromise the security of a business’ operations. The device that an employee uses, their internet connection, or the email links they choose to open can lead to a breach of security. In this blog, we will explain some of the threats that come with working from home and best practices for keeping data and other corporate files protected.

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Risky Business

A survey from OpenVPN found that 90 percent of IT professionals believe remote work is not secure. There is valid evidence supporting this claim with new vulnerabilities being found regularly. The first security risk hinges on the devices and connection used for work. Employees who use personal computers to complete work can put their business at risk in many ways:

  • The device is not updated with the latest anti-virus protection software
  • Sensitive corporate files can be saved onto a personal desktop
  • Employees use public Wi-Fi to connect their device, leaving their company’s files exposed to hackers on public internet connections

Another cybersecurity risk involves the employee rather than the devices. If a person is working in public and speaking on the phone with a co-worker or boss, their laptop screen will be exposed to any passerby. Additionally, if the person is talking about sensitive topics with their co-worker, this information could be overheard by anyone within earshot.

Other concerns include phishing emails and malicious links sent from cybercriminals. While email is one of the primary ways people communicate while working remotely, it can also be the downfall of your computer and business. Cybercriminals will use emails that look similar to a name from your company, but will not be the same. Opening emails that appear to be trustworthy will give a hacker complete access to your device, and in turn, sensitive information.

One of the most recent types of cyberattacks was a remote code execution bug that allowed an unauthorized attacker to control Netgear’s wireless router. While Netgear sent out a patch for this vulnerability, this could only be the beginning of a new wave of remote device attacks.

Director of Forensics at SecureData, Allan Buxton, said, “Remote workers risk extending the insecurity of their own home network to their employer. Weak WiFi passwords, the lack of an up-to-date antivirus, unsecured devices, or other flaws that business networks routinely address may be no big deal normally, but can present an attack vector into a business network once remote connections are made.”

Safety First, Work After

To increase security measures in your remote workspace, there are several precautions you can take to safeguard both corporate and personal information. These steps include:

  • Finding a secure internet connection or using a VPN while on Wi-Fi
  • Install or update the Firewall on your connected device
  • Use a password manager to allow for complex passwords without having to remember them
  • Use encrypted communication if possible
  • Be wary of phishing emails and report any suspicious activity to your company’s IT personnel
  • Have a reliable backup solution for all data

Businesses themselves can take part in protecting their sensitive data by putting remote work plans in place. By setting the rules early about who is eligible to work from home, what devices must be used, and the level of productivity expected, companies can take control of their remote workers and with constant communication, can ensure employees are following security protocols.

Security in the Present and Beyond

In the wake of the Coronoavrius, Buxton said, “If self-quarantining sticks around for a while (more than a few months), I think we’re going to see more attacks on VPNs, remote desktop tools, and home routers.”

Cybercrime doesn’t take a break just because there is a pandemic. If anything, there will be an increase in cyber threats and hackers looking to gain unauthorized access to data in new ways. Remote workers should follow the security protocols set in place by their employer and take their own precautions while working from home. If you experience a data breach, IP theft, or any other type of digital attack, Secure Forensics can help.

Our team of experienced examiners can investigate cybercrime to find digital evidence and transcribe it into a court-admissible document. Learn more about how Secure Forensics can keep your business secure during remote work by calling 1-800-288-1407.