Remote working is on the rise. As cloud and mobile technology change how we work, it’s becoming easier than ever to go paperless, enabling remote and flexible working anywhere, anytime.
A 60 percent staff ratio is anticipated to return to the office between 2021 and 2022 in 2021. This is an improvement from a previous survey where about 37% of participants expressed confidence in returning to work in an office setting. This development highlights the advantages of face-to-face collaboration in the workplace. ~Statista
However, with increased convenience came increased remote work security risks.Cybercriminals always seek ways to steal sensitive data (passwords and credit card numbers) and make illegal profits. Today, more and more companies employ remote workers around the globe. Workers don’t give much attention to remote security. This makes it easier for cybercriminals to reach their target audience and cause damage from a distance.
Let’s look at some major remote work security risks and tips for ensuring remote workplace security.
Remote Working 5 Security Risks
Remote working is a great opportunity but comes with risks that must be managed. Here are five common remote work security risks to look out for:
Susceptibility to Phishing and Email Scams
Phishing, malware, and email scams are all forms of cybercrime that can affect any employee, whether they’re in the office or not. However, remote workers are especially vulnerable because they’re out of sight of their colleagues, who may spot suspicious activity more easily than someone who works remotely daily.
With remote workers often not in the office and less likely to be familiar with their colleagues, they are more susceptible to phishing scams. In fact, remote workers cause 2x as many security incidents as onsite workers. They may receive emails from someone claiming to be a member of their team who requests access to sensitive information or money transfers.
Unencrypted File Sharing
Workers, while working remotely, can share files via email or instant messenger without encryption software. Anyone accessing these messages can read them and take advantage of confidential information. Companies must require all employees who work remotely – regardless of how often they do – to use encrypted file-sharing tools such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
Using Weak Passwords
The weakest link in any security system is always the user’s password. If your employees use weak passwords, hackers can easily gain access to their devices and networks using brute force methods such as dictionary attacks and rainbow tables.
It would help if you enforced strong password policies to ensure remote security. You can do this by requiring complex passwords with special characters and uppercase and lowercase letters.
Misconfigurations in the Public Cloud
More than one-fourth of information security professionals polled said their organizations had experienced a security incident in the public cloud infrastructure within the previous year, and security misconfigurations were the main culprit, according to the “2022 Cloud Security Report” by network security software provider Check Point Software Technologies.
Security misconfigurations are one of the most common reasons for breaches, which is why it’s important to keep up-to-date with patches and security updates. If you’re using a public cloud provider, like Amazon Web Services (AWS), make sure you’re using their latest services configured properly and keep monitoring your AWS costs to check for any abnormalities. If you’re using another service provider, ensure they have good documentation on configuring their systems securely.
Using Personal Devices for Work
Remote workers use their devices for work, creating several security concerns. Firstly, it means that you are using devices that are not under your control. This can lead to data being stored in unencrypted locations, which increases the risk of data loss or theft. In addition, if these devices get infected with malware or spyware, your entire network could be at risk.
Best Security Practices for Working From Home
Working from home is a wonderful luxury but can also be risky. If you’re not careful, your home can become an easy target for cybercriminals.
Here are some security tips for working remotely to protect yourself and ensure remote security:
Use Anti-Phishing Solutions
You should already be using an anti-phishing solution by PowerDMARC on your computer and mobile devices, but it’s especially important when working at home. You may have a greater chance of falling victim to phishing attacks because of your time on your devices — and these attacks can be very convincing.
Protect Your Domains with DMARC
Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance (DMARC) is an email security standard that helps prevent fraudulent emails from reaching your inbox. With DMARC in place, ISPs will reject emails if they don’t come from the correct domain name or if they don’t have the correct DKIM signature. This helps protect against phishing scams and other types of spam emails.
Keep Work Data on Work Computers
Using company-issued laptops and tablets for personal tasks is tempting especially when they provide IT equipment for employees, but there are better ideas than using company-issued laptops and tablets. If you don’t have access to the same level of protection you get at work, ensure you don’t bring any sensitive data home. If you need to store sensitive information on a device that isn’t managed by IT, at least encrypt it so that if it gets lost or stolen, no one else can access it. You could also solve this issue by accessing in-house hardware elsewhere using a remote desktop solution, avoiding sensitive data being stored permanently on personal devices. There are MSP remote desktop options out there, but these could be suitable for average employees as well, not just managed service providers.
Don’t Forget WiFi Security
The most common way to connect remotely is over WiFi (or sometimes wired Ethernet), but these connections are often less secure than those within an office network. To protect yourself when working from home or another business location, look for networks with “WPA2” encryption (all new routers should have). And never share passwords with anyone else — even friends or family members who might want to use your WiFi hotspot.
Block the Sight Lines
One of the biggest remote job security risks when working from home is someone seeing you on your computer screen. This could be a neighbor who sees you through a window or a passerby who catches a glimpse as they walk by. If someone can see what’s on your screen, they could easily steal your data, passwords, or other sensitive information.
Remote working can be an amazing benefit for companies and employees, but it does introduce several remote work security risks that must be managed. Whether you’re a freelancer, working with a team of remote employees, or running a business where remote workers are common, there are simple steps to protecting your business’s data and identity. By taking the proper precautions and staying alert, you can avoid many of the worst-case scenarios.