Remote work has become increasingly popular in recent times. It provides flexibility and convenience for employees. Additionally, telecommuting reduces office costs for employers. Many also cite productivity benefits due to fewer distractions.
Research shows a 56% reduction in unproductive time when working at home vs. the office.
But there are some drawbacks to working outside the office. It’s crucial to be aware of the cybersecurity risks that come with remote and hybrid work. Keeping an eye on device and network security isn’t as easy. About 63% of businesses have experienced a data breach due to remote employees.
This news doesn’t mean that you must risk security to enjoy remote working. You can strike a balance. Be aware of the cybersecurity concerns and address them to do this.
In this article, Jonathan Cundliffe, Managing Director of Lancashire-based J700 Group discusses some of the top cybersecurity risks associated with remote work. Jonathan also provides some practical tips on how employees and employers can address them.
Remote Work Risks & Mitigation
1. Weak Passwords and Lack of Multi-Factor Authentication
Using weak passwords puts accounts at risk of a breach. Reusing passwords across several accounts is a big cybersecurity risk. Remote workers often access company systems, databases, and sensitive information from many devices.
To mitigate this risk, you should create strong and unique passwords for every account and also enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification to access your accounts.
2. Unsecured Wi-Fi Networks
Working remotely often means connecting to different Wi-Fi networks. Such as public hotspots or home networks that may not be adequately secured. These unsecured networks can expose your sensitive data to hackers.
To protect company data, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). That should be turned on when connecting to public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. A VPN encrypts internet traffic. This ensures that data remains secure even on untrusted networks.
3. Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks remain a widespread threat, that remote workers are particularly vulnerable to. Attackers may send deceptive emails or messages to trick users into revealing their login credentials or downloading malicious attachments.
To defend against phishing attacks:
- Be cautious when opening emails, Especially from unknown sources.
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links.
- Verify the sender’s email address.
- Be wary of any requests for sensitive information.
If in doubt, contact your IT support team to confirm the legitimacy of the communication.
4. Insecure Home Network Devices
Many remote workers use Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These include smart speakers, home security systems and thermostats. These devices can introduce vulnerabilities to your home network if not properly secured.
To address this risk, make sure you change the default passwords on your IoT devices. Also, keep your devices updated with the latest firmware. Consider creating a separate network for your IoT devices. A “guest” network can isolate them from your work devices and data.
Employers can improve security for remote teams using an endpoint device manager, such as Microsoft Intune, or something similar. These devices help make it easier to manage security across many employee devices.
5. Lack of Security Updates
Regularly updating your devices and software is crucial for maintaining strong cybersecurity. Remote workers may neglect these updates due to busy schedules or limited awareness. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain unauthorised access to systems.
To mitigate this risk:
- Enable automatic updates on devices and software whenever possible.
- Regularly check for updates, install them promptly to ensure you have the latest security patches.
6. Data Backup and Recovery
Remote workers create and handle a significant amount of data. The loss or corruption of this data can be devastating, so implementing a strong data backup and recovery plan is essential.
Back up your important files to a secure cloud storage service or an external hard drive. This ensures that if a hacker compromises a device, your data remains safe and can be easily restored.
7. Insufficient Employee Training
Remote workers should receive proper cybersecurity training. It helps them to understand security risks and best practices. Unfortunately, many companies neglect this aspect of cybersecurity. Leaving employees unaware of the potential threats they may encounter.
Organisations must provide comprehensive cybersecurity training to remote workers. This training should cover topics such as:
- Identifying phishing emails
- Creating strong passwords
- Recognising suspicious online behaviour
- New forms of phishing (such as SMS-based “smishing”)
Get Help Improving Remote Team Cybersecurity
Remote work offers many benefits. It is important to remain vigilant about the associated cybersecurity risks. Address these risks head-on and put in place the suggested measures. If you would like some help, or to discuss your requirements just let us know.
About J700 Group Limited
J700 Group provide effective IT support and services that enable your business to have secure, responsive and reliable information technology, keeping it running smoothly 24/7. Above this though, we are a family run company who truly care about our customer service and the business relationships we develop.
J700 Group are a Lancashire-based, family-run, professional and responsive, Managed Solutions Provider helping Businesses, to utilise Innovative IT Consultancy Services, Cloud Solutions, Cyber Security, Microsoft 365, Telecoms, Web Design and SEO solutions to propel their organisation to the next level and beyond.
As an experienced IT Support Provider, helping businesses across Lancashire & Manchester, if you need any assistance with your IT including IT Hardware, a Disaster Recovery Policy or Managed Backup Solutions please get in touch with one of our team.
Where to find us: Prinny Mill Business Centre, 68 Blackburn Road, Haslingden, Lancashire, BB4 5HL
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