Remote work has become common across various industries, mostly in response to the pandemic. In fact, 25% of all jobs across North America are expected to adopt varying degrees of remote work by the end of 2022.
However, the increased accessibility and flexibility come with their own set of challenges, particularly regarding data security. If you’re looking to adopt remote work policies, check out the most common issues you’ll probably face, as well as the basic measures you can do against them.
Remote work doesn’t necessarily equate to working from home. A survey conducted before the pandemic revealed that a majority of employees (77 percent) are already using pubic WiFi or free internet for work, especially when they’re traveling.
Devices connected through public access points are particularly susceptible to unauthorized access. Other readily-available apps can be used to spy on other devices connected over the same network, harvesting confidential data that can potentially damage the entire company.
From an organizational standpoint, the most common cybersecurity measure is the use of a VPN network. It usually comes in the form of an app that facilitates a secure, encrypted connection between the endpoint device and your network.
Use of Unauthorized Devices
Most remote work arrangements are accompanied by a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, which allows employees to use their personal devices for work purposes. This saves up costs for the company, improves employee experience with devices they’re comfortable with, and is often seen as a show of trust.
While using your own device for work makes remote work easier, there should still be stringent security measures to be followed. For starters, the use of third-party or illegally-acquired apps should be prohibited. The same can be said for jailbroken or rooted devices. These cases often bypass inherent security features for electronic gadgets, creating security vulnerabilities.
Modern endpoint detection and response (EDR) strategies are equipped to notify your IT administrators in the event that an unregistered device attempts to access the network, offering insights on the location and the employee credentials used. Similarly, unusual behavior from registered employee devices is immediately flagged.
Traditional office settings are physically guarded by their own security detail and the same goes for their on-premise IT infrastructure. Both applications and machines enjoy a combination of digital and physical security measures. Unfortunately, the same can not be extended to all employees working elsewhere.
Once an employee’s device is stolen, there is an inherent risk of someone attempting to access all its content. Whether it’s your employee’s personal information or confidential company data, theft is a difficult challenge to address in terms of cybersecurity.
Mitigating the risks from stolen devices requires modern security solutions and proactive employee behavior. Devices should have lock screens and similar security measures. Furthermore, there should be a lockdown or isolation procedure in place as soon as an employee reports his or her device missing.
One of the main challenges of remote work is the persistence of different types of malware—with over 560,000 new pieces of potentially harmful code discovered every single day. From simple adware that slows down devices to ransomware that locks you out of your gadget, these malicious programs vary in their approach and in the damage they can cause.
With the overwhelming variety of these programs, made more difficult by the company’s lack of control over its remote-based devices, a pragmatic security approach is often recommended by experts. It refers to a practical outlook on cybersecurity, which focuses on simple solutions that are feasible and scalable.
For example, the single sign-on (SSO) protocol streamlines the identification and verification process, especially for businesses that require the use of multiple apps. SSO means using a single login credential for multiple apps, making it easier for employees to remember and easier for employers to authenticate.
Social Engineering Attacks
Unlike other tech-based threats on this list, social engineering attacks exploit various human biases and weaknesses in order to unlawfully access your company network. Some examples of social engineering attacks include:
It refers to a wide range of strategies that use deception to force an unwitting victim to follow the attackers’ whims. A common scenario involves a fake email pretending to be a financial institution or a business partner that aims to make the recipient click a link or submit confidential information.
- Tailgating or Piggybacking
Similar to its physical counterpart, this attack involves illegally accessing a network following a legitimate log-in attempt. Usually, an employee logs in and is distracted, leaving his account logged in the system. This window of opportunity is exploited
- Quid pro quo
Pandering to a person’s desire to earn something in return, a targeted attack promises something in exchange for sensitive information. It can range from traditional insider attacks to phishing-like efforts like false winning announcements.
By adopting remote work arrangements, whether full or hybrid, there are certain tradeoffs that must be considered. However, familiarizing yourself with the most prominent security risks helps you make informed decisions about the type of security measures you need and the overall policy you will adopt.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-gray-crew-neck-t-shirt-sitting-on-chair-in-front-of-macbook-pro-5198264/