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Cybersecurity in the Era of “Work from Home”

Many organizations allow employees to take some work home as the strategy increases productivity and provides more flexible hours among other benefits. However, working remotely introduces some cyber risks that threaten the organization’s cybersecurity position. It is therefore necessary for each organization to be familiar with the different types of risks associated with remote working approaches before implementing such a move to reap the many benefits.

Home setups are often insecure
In most cases, a home setup that has a network connection and devices used to access sensitive corporate data may not have sufficient security. For example, there may be a lack of in-depth defense approaches such as the use of VPNs, antivirus solutions, firewalls and intrusion prevention systems that are certainly used to protect an organization. Rarely will a company apply such security measures to protect important data and provide basic security in residential environments where employees could work remotely. In fact, there is a greater chance that there is a violation or compromise of the authentication required to access the company’s systems from home

Employees tend to use multiple devices
Employees often use more than one device when working from home to access important information or for other work-related reasons. This complicates the implemented data protection efforts as every device used is a potential entry for system threats. For example, the employee’s laptop may have sufficient security controls, but the use of an insecure smartphone can allow cybercriminals to compromise the organization’s cybersecurity position. It is essential that users observe the predetermined security policies that govern the use of personal devices to manage work-related activities. If policies are non-existent, an organization should strive to create employee awareness to help ensure that every device has some form of protection, including basic security measures such as the password mechanism.


Smart Working increases data exchange via the Internet
Compared to an office environment where employees use a secure communication infrastructure and intranet to communicate and exchange information, work-from-home interactions increasingly depend on Internet connectivity. This is a huge risk as the public internet is insecure and often full of bad guys. The connection used may contain various defects that can be compromised to allow a cybercriminal to intercept any data transmitted over the geographic network. This requires a more secure approach to communicating important information and may include the use of secure applications for sharing files, sending and receiving emails or using secure VPNs.

Logistics problems increase the requests for IT support
Just like on-site employees, remote workers often require IT support, particularly due to several security concerns. Logistical and distance difficulties can prevent the IT department from providing the required assistance efficiently. For example, if the Internet connection is breached or during a cyber attack aimed at data theft, IT support may not be able to prevent the attack remotely and this challenge can lead to incidents with devastating consequences.

Practical tips
Create a policy that requires remote workers to use the devices provided by the company
In the event that employees can use their personal devices, make sure that the hardware is equipped with efficient security controls
Reduce the cyber risks of the Internet through the use of the VPN
Train employees on basic security practices: protect their devices, using strong passwords that should be changed regularly
Develop and implement a disaster recovery and business continuity plan that will guide recovery efforts in the event of a data breach on a remote workstation
Buy IT security liability insurance to help with recovery in the event of an accident

1 Comment

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