The ideal work scenario in this digital age is remote working, which has become the new norm. The ability to work from the comfort of your own home has revolutionized how we work, bringing productivity, flexibility, and convenience. However, one pressing concern with this freedom must be addressed - the security breaches that come with remote working.
Data breaches incur financial losses and badly bruise the company's reputation. After an attack, companies lose faith instantly. To avoid this, organizations are scrambling to shield their customers and data to maintain customer trust and remain competitive in today's digital landscape.
In 2021, data breaches hit companies with high numbers of remote employees the hardest. For companies with 81% to 100% remote workers, the average data breach cost was $5.5 million – that's not pocket change, you know!
Also, Companies with 61% to 80% remote employees faced an average data breach cost of about $4.4 million, while lower-end companies with about 10% to 20% had an average breach cost of $ 4.2 million. With these numbers, securing remote work environments may not be as simple as you thought.
According to Forbes, findings show that the United States is the primary target for attacks, with 7,221,177 incidents happening per million individuals. Data breaches in the U.S. cost $600,000, more than the global breaches, which was nearly $1 million in 2022 IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report. So, while everyone loves the idea of working from home and the many perks it carries – it's time to rethink
Common security risks with remote working
Without realizing it, employees not keen on cyber security best practices can give threat actors entry to your company's confidential data and network. Employees may need help understanding and maintaining secure work practices when transitioning to remote work, even temporarily. Shockingly, remote workers can emerge as the primary security risk to your network.
Here are the usual suspects to look out for:
- Phishing Attacks
These devious attacks involve deceptive emails that wear a convincing disguise, often presenting as legitimate communications from trusted sources. The main objective is to deceive unsuspecting individuals into sharing sensitive information such as card details, passwords, or critical personal data. In today's digital space, phishing emails have become a prevalent threat.
According to statistics, approximately 1.2% of all emails sent worldwide are malicious, leading to 3.4 phishing emails daily. With this volume, you can imagine how much at risk remote workers are since most of their communications are through Email, and it's easy to fall for them.
Experts predict that in 2023, cyber-attacks, including phishing and ransomware, will lead to the extortion of about 33 million records. It's even shocking that an average phishing attack happens every 11 seconds.
- Weak Passwords
It is easy to think that setting a simple, easy-to-remember password is convenient – but this is an open invitation to cyber attackers. Cybercriminals depend on the predictability of weak passwords, exploiting them to have unauthorized access to your accounts.
Markedly, remote workers access sensitive information, company systems, and databases from different devices and platforms requiring password authentication.
Interestingly, passwords emerge as one of the leading cyber security risks in remote work. When remote workers use weak passwords, their defense is weakened. While companies can manage password security more effectively on office devices, the situation becomes more complex when workers operate from remote locations.
Meanwhile, cybercriminals are constantly evolving their ways to crack passwords. Once they have successfully cracked employees' passwords, they infiltrate other accounts with the same credentials.
- Unsecured Wi-Fi
As a remote worker, you are constantly online, so you may connect to various Wi-Fi networks. Unfortunately, not all are secured adequately, from home networks to public hotspots in cafes.
Unsecured Wi-Fi can expose you to significant risks, thus giving hackers access to sensitive data. While connecting to home wireless networks and accessing cooperate accounts through unsecured networks may seem routine, they create an opportunity for malicious actors to eavesdrop on connections and get any confidential information they may need.
Additionally, data sent without encryption can allow criminals to intercept and steal information transmitted without protection. When employees send sensitive company data, confidential reports, and login credentials across unsecured networks – it's likely to share postcards with your confidential information for anyone intending to read. With the right tools, cybercriminals can effortlessly intercept and do what they may with that information.
- Using personal devices for work
The practice of remote employees transferring data and files between their work and personal gadgets while working is concerning. Furthermore, the "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) deployment policy, which allows employees to use their personal computers for work purposes, has been common.
It's essential to understand the implications of this policy for work-related assignments. For example, an employee may leave the company and remain with confidential data and information on their device. In situations like these, it's hard to erase or retrieve these sensitive data, which poses a considerable security risk.
Also, when employees fail to update their software on their devices regularly, it can create security breaches within your work environment.
- Webcam insecurity
Webcam usage is common for remote work, mainly during video calls and teleconferences, including presentations conducted via platforms like Zoom.
While these virtual meetings offer convenience, the unsettling caveat is the considerable risk of webcam hacking. Even scarier, if someone has important documents in their home office, these criminals might see them via the hacked webcam, which may infringe on the company's sensitive information and confidential documents.
Securing your company from breaches
Often, issues relating to I.T. are left to the I.T. experts within the company. However, with cybersecurity and remote work, every employee should be at the forefront of safeguarding the company's confidential information and data. Here are some best practices to ensure a safe and secure work environment.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Organizations should ensure all employees use a secure network for all company work. A VPN adds a layer of protection by encrypting your internet connection. Companies can adopt more robust authentication methods like smart cards to bolster their security further. In addition, upgrading your VPN's encryption from less secure protocols like Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) to reliable options like Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP).
As mentioned earlier, you could have the most secure VPN, but a weak password can be your weakest link. Therefore, encourage your employees to update their passwords regularly, use strong ones, and continuously update them. Advise your employees on configuring their home networks securely, including personal firewalls and wireless routers. And lastly, ensure antivirus software covers your VPN and has comprehensive security to have an all-around defense against any cyber threats.
- Securing your webcam
It is crucial to take extra caution and security regarding your webcam, whether built into your computer or a separate device. For example, an effective measure to be secure with standalone webcams is to unplug it when not in use.
On the other hand, you need to be extra careful with built-in webcams, as webcam attacks can occur any day. To solve this, you can use sliding webcam covers – you can find these online – not to worry, they are effortless to install. When on Zoom meetings or video calls, consider using the "blur background" feature, if any, to help you shield your home office from prying eyes during meetings, thus safeguarding any critical information.
- Ensure your work devices are off limits
You may have confidence in every online practice your company is involved in. However, when working from home, company devices may come into contact with people sharing your space, a roommate, or a family member.
As a precautionary measure, let your employees employ zero trust security for the business model – you may never know where the information may fall. Again, emphasize the importance of password protection, preventing unauthorized access to sensitive data.
Be safe under Pulsar Security's watch.
Adopting remote working for companies is important for competitiveness and innovation in the business world. However, to stand out, it must have a robust security strategy. With the alarming statistics discussed above, addressing remote work security risks is non-negotiable for permanent remote workers and occasional telecommuters.
To fully harness the potential of remote work, you need help to afford it. With Pulsar Security, you get all-around cyber security services designed to provide maximum protection at minimal cost – without compromising quality. You can confidently safeguard your data while smoothly navigating the remote work landscape. Try Pulsar Security Today!