The COVID-19 pandemic caused a massive shift towards remote work, which remains today. Remote work has become the new norm, and it has brought about many changes in the workplace. While remote work offers many benefits, it also increases cybersecurity risks. In this article, DirectDefense will discuss the rise of remote work and cybersecurity, and what you need to know to stay safe.
The Rise of Remote Work
Companies around the world were forced to adopt remote work to keep their businesses running during lockdowns and social distancing measures. According to a report by Gartner, 88% of organizations worldwide made it mandatory or encouraged remote work after the pandemic hit. And to this day, it is estimated that remote work for high-paying jobs has almost quadrupled since 2019, going from 4% to 15% today.
The Cybersecurity Risks of Remote Work
OpenVPN found in their study that 73% of VP and C-Suite IT leaders believe remote workers pose a greater security risk than onsite employees. Therefore, security leaders should look beyond traditional approaches to monitoring, detection, and response, to manage the wider attack surface of risks that remote working presents.
Most of the extra risk is in the endpoints. Since the endpoints are now at employees’ homes, and no longer in the more controlled environments that the offices once provided, there is much less control over access to resources and they are more difficult to manage. Here are some tips for the extra focus you can implement to secure remote endpoints:
- Train against phishing: Phishing is a type of cyberattack that involves tricking users into giving away their personal information. Phishing attacks often come in the form of emails or instant messages that appear to be from a trusted source. Extra phishing training should be performed for all remote workers. DirectDefense suggests that a brief training session be conducted every 6 months so that awareness is fresh in employees’ minds.
- Stop malware: Malware is a type of software designed to harm a computer system. Malware can be spread through emails, downloads, or social engineering. Anti-virus software must be installed, running, not able to be disabled, and continually updated as updates are provided by the anti-virus vendor.
- Secure networks: When employees work remotely, they often use public Wi-Fi networks that are not secure. These networks can be easily hacked, and sensitive information can be stolen. Personal firewalls need to be running and not able to be disabled.
- Reduce attacks: Non-business use of web surfing should be eliminated or controlled so that remote laptops are less likely to become infected. Employees should be encouraged and required to use their personal devices for Internet access.
- Use a VPN: A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your internet connection and protects your data from hackers. This is most useful for remote workers that need to access files or information on the company’s internal network.
- Keep your software up to date: Make sure you install the latest software updates to protect your computer from known vulnerabilities.
- Use strong passwords: Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to create strong passwords. Never use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Harden systems: Disallow loading of software and encrypt the hard drives.
- Use two-factor authentication: Implement two-factor authentication which adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a second form of identification, such as a fingerprint or a code sent to your phone.
Remote work is here to stay, and it offers many benefits to both employees and employers. However, it also comes with its share of cybersecurity risks. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can stay safe while working remotely and protect yourself from cyber threats.