While the companies in the world are rapidly adapting to remote working due to the quick rise of COVID-19, cyber attackers are planning to make the most of it by introducing different kinds of viruses.
According to the reports, every third business has suffered from a data breach due to its remote workforce. Hence, with most of the employees working remotely, there’s one thing the IT organizations are concerned about – cybersecurity.
Risks of Remote Work
Historically, adopting work from home as a policy has been a tough decision for organizations. While some managers fear that remote work might reduce the productivity of their employees, the concern is more on securing critical data these businesses rely on.
A recent study from OpenVPN reveals surprising facts about remote work and the security risks associated with it:
- More than one in three organizations (36%) have experienced a cybersecurity incident because of an unsecured remote worker.
- 90% of IT professionals think remote workers are not safe.
- More than 50% of respondents believe that employees at remote work pose a greater security risk as compared to the ones working onsite.
Remote workers generally work around the clock from a combination of personal and organization’s devices, which have added more complexity to the security risk profile of the company. This involves the employees accessing the company’s data and therefore, increasing the risk of external attack or accidental disclosure of critical information.
Given the extension of remote work policy during the COVID-19 pandemic, this situation will surely get worse in the coming days.
Security issues with working remotely
The cybercrime cases already cost trillions each year, globally. These losses can be more damaging for businesses given the economic impact caused by COVID-19. As individuals are forced to work remotely, the organizations need to maintain proper controls on critical data.
The current environment requires companies to prioritize the security of their sensitive information and where it’s going. The leakage of data can be more than just one way.
For instance, users may engage in security risk unintentionally by forwarding corporate emails with attachments to their personal email account for easy editing on their mobiles, or any personal devices. This device may contain malware and may expose company’s data to external attackers. This unintentionally leaks the organization’s sensitive data, which should be protected.
More than 40% of employees have agreed to have transferred files between work and personal computers during remote working.
While discussing about the remote work-related security risks, a businessman said, “I feel worried. I have the desire…to not have to think about where my company’s important data is being transferred. I still have a little bit of…. suspicion about – if the whole network is really safe?”
Companies are still not sure about which tools or strategies to implement to store and share information.
They need to have an understanding of the security posture and follow the best practices for remote working at the workplace. It is important to make sure the endpoint has the right security so that attackers can’t steal the information from there.
How to maintain security when employees work remotely
To deal with the potential threat of mixing personal and work data, you can follow some best practices for remote working.
Companies can issue their own devices as it is an easy way to separate corporate data. However, more and more employees now feel that working on their own devices gives them better productivity. So, employers may have to opt for a different approach to keep remote employees satisfied.
In this situation, organizations need to apply secure file sync and share technologies which will enable the employees at remote work to access and transfer data in a way that is both safe and secure.
File sync and share technology by Acronis is made keeping the current professional environment in mind, where individuals work from different locations and rely on multiple devices to maximize their productivity. This service allows users to store files in any approved data repository, share and access files remotely from any devices, whether they are documents, videos, files or photos.
When used effectively, the file sync and share solution can enable businesses to create a greater collaborative team. By allowing employees remote access through their phones, desktops, tablets or secure web browsers, without VPN, businesses can streamline their file sharing process.
Also, when the data is centrally stored, the corporate data is safer and more protected against data leakage.
Beyond this, you can reduce vulnerabilities by:
- Banning the use of unsecured connections.
- Using geolocation to limit the places from where the company networks can be accessed.
- Mandating VPN connectivity for remote work.
- Reminding employees to not use their personal email IDs.
- Educating employees about cyber-attacks and what does phishing attacks look like?
- Using secure collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Alibaba Cloud’s DingTalk and G Suite to stay safe and help the remote team maximize their productivity.
Read details in a report by Forrester.
Best practices for remote working
If a person is looking for new information, he is more likely to click on a malicious link in a phishing email which can accidentally compromise the sensitive data. This can happen especially with those who are not used to remote working, and as a result, get distracted quickly, and use personal email and web browser while working.
So now is a great time that IT and security teams should create strategies for remote workers.
Companies should go for a security provider as they have specialized IT security teams who can suggest customized policies and procedures, specifically based on their profile.
The security risks associated with remote work will always be there. Apart from following the best practices for remote working, organizations need to act smart and adopt a proactive approach to manage it as that’s the need of the hour.
Stay safe and be careful!
Let us know in the comments section as to how you are managing remote working in your organization in this time of coronavirus crisis.
Priyanka Dadhich – a content writer, can usually be found reading books. She likes to write about technology, healthcare, travel and fashion. Priyanka loves coffee and listens to music in her free time. She spends her free time with her family.