The Secrets of Cybersecurity: Addressing Digital Threats When Working Remotely
Why do companies introduce remote work practice?
The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses representing various industries to introduce remote work practice. However, at the time of digital transformation of the international business, the remote work practice is gaining popularity and is likely to remain common after the end of the pandemic. There are several factors behind the decision of businesses to introduce remote work practice or mixed model of cooperation with employees.
One of the main factors influencing the decision of companies to introduce remote work practice is productivity. The leading companies such as Twitter and Square have analyzed the performance of their employees working remotely and employees working from offices. They have concluded that in both cases the level of productivity has been the same. As a result, by allowing employees to work remotely companies may cut their expenditures associated with renting and maintaining office spaces. The saved resources may be allocated to increase employees’ salaries or give them additional perks.
At the same time, companies have access to modern software that can be used to ensure smooth coordination of work between employees and management when working remotely. By practising remote work companies may offer job opportunities to specialists living in other cities or countries. Thus, the supply of workforce for such companies increases and they can employ the most competitive professionals. The introduction of remote work practice positively influences the emotional conditions of employees since they do not need to spend their time commuting and do not suffer from stress caused by traffic jams or other troubles.
The introduction of remote work practice has a positive impact on the company’s market image. The more flexibility a company provides to employees, the more attractive it is in the eyes of potential job candidates. It is important to consider the impact of the introduction of remote work practice by a company on its resistance to risks that are beyond its control. For example, in the case of natural disasters or public unrest, the companies practising remote work do not face any significant implications while the businesses practising only office working are likely to face serious challenges associated with difficulties for employees to reach their job places.
Digital security risks associated with remote work faced by companies and employees
The remote work practice provides for the shift of cooperation between a company and its employees to the virtual format. As a result, the level of cybersecurity risks faced by companies automatically increases. The biggest threats to the company’s digital security arise when this shift is spontaneous and cybersecurity specialists cannot take all security measures in time to address potential cyber challenges.
Fishing attacks are one of the main cybersecurity threats faced by companies practising remote work. Hackers send disguised messages to the company’s employees containing dangerous links or enter into communication with them using fake accounts to get information that when disclosed may cause damage to the company’s security or allow malicious actors to access corporate databases through employees’ computers.
When working remotely employees often neglect the importance of securing or even setting up passwords. Also, due to various reasons, the password to personal computers of employees working remotely may be known to the members of their families, friends, or neighbours. The more people may use employees’ devices, the more room for manoeuvre hackers have. When employees use their personal devices for professional purposes, the capacity of the company’s system administrators to prevent the theft of passwords may be limited.
Employees may work remotely not only from their home but also from other places such as co-working spaces, cafes, or restaurants. When connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks employees immediately become an easy target for hackers. When employees access corporate databases or other resources from the devices connected to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, they actually give a key to hackers to open corporate data storages. Hackers, in their turn, by utilizing the collected information may access corporate web resources to steal valuable data or spread harmful content among other employees thereby scaling their malicious activities.
When practising remote work companies are vulnerable to brute force attacks since employees actively use VPN services. Hackers target the VPN portals utilized by employees and overload them with authentication requests by using previously collected account data. This type of digital threats may be referred to as credential stuffing. Once a combination works, a hacker accesses corporate resources. There is also a risk that hackers may intercept data transmitted between employees working remotely or information sent to the office when companies neglect the importance of data coding.
How can companies address digital threats when working remotely
The global community is facing the intensification of criminal activities performed by malicious groups or actors in cyberspace. However, companies can mitigate digital threats by implementing a set of measures. One of the most effective measures to address digital threats is the provision of corporate devices to employees working remotely and the development of the rules governing their use. It is also important to teach employees the basic principles of cybersecurity. The businesses practising remote work are the most lucrative target for cybercriminals to commit social engineering attacks. Hacken recommends companies to pay attention to the prevention of digital threats in the form of social engineering by assessing employees’ awareness and resistance to such challenges through the conduct of special tests. As a result, in the real environment, they will be able to detect at least the most common cyberattacks and notify the internal cybersecurity specialists on the issue. It is of the greatest importance for employees to set up strong passwords, connect their devices only to secured Wi-Fi networks, and use corporate devices only for professional purposes.
Companies also need to set up special firewalls to control the volume and type of traffic transmitted between networks to detect suspicious or dangerous traffic. Employees need to store data only on cloud storages the security of which is controlled by the company’s system administrators. When working remotely, employees need to regularly install security updates released by their providers of the Internet to strengthen the security of their home networks and enabling access to them only for specified devices.
Data coding is one of the most effective measures aimed at protecting the information transmitted between employees and the office and stored on their devices. In case a hacker intercepts such information, he won’t be able to utilize it for committing serious malicious activities such as ransomware attacks. By setting up multifactor authentication on all corporate resources utilized by employees when working remotely companies may dramatically reduce the chances for hackers to get unauthorized access to these resources.
Businesses need to realize that the introduction of remote work practice is a complex activity that needs to be accompanied by the allocation of investments to strengthen internal cybersecurity systems for addressing digital threats. In most cases, companies do not have enough capacity to develop effective cybersecurity strategies when working remotely. That is why they should cooperate with specialized companies having deep cybersecurity expertise that can provide a strong response to cyberattacks. The company Hacken is a market-recognized cybersecurity specialist and consultant that provides 24/7 protection to companies from fishing and fake account attacks. Besides, Hacken evaluates the effectiveness of corporate cybersecurity policies and tests employees’ ability to address or prevent cyberattacks by simulating both common and non-standard cyberattacks. Generally, the companies striving to strengthen their cybersecurity in the modern vulnerable environment may get a set of security evaluation services provided by Hacken.
Overall, the companies practising remote work need to implement a set of measures to strengthen their resistance to existing and potential cyber threats. The most effective strategies to strengthen cybersecurity when working remotely is the provision of training to employees, regular audit of internal systems performed by specialized companies, and timely response to digital risks. Only the businesses that can ensure their cybersecurity are likely to benefit from remote work practice.