Remote work has become popular in recent times due mainly to it’s flexibility and convenience for employees. Additionally, it reduces office costs for employers. Many also cite productivity benefits due to fewer distractions and more time spent working than commuting.

Research shows a 56% reduction in unproductive time when working at home vs. the office.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. There are cybersecurity risks that come with remote and hybrid work. Keeping an eye on device and network security isn’t as easy when compared to working in a central company location. About 63% of businesses have experienced a data breach due to remote employees.

This news doesn’t mean that you risk a data breach should you support a remote work policy in your business. You can strike a balance by being aware of the cybersecurity concerns and addressing them with solutions that are relatively simple to implement and not overly expensive.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the top cybersecurity risks associated with remote work, many of which apply regardless of where your people work. We’ll also provide practical tips on how everyone in an organisation can address the risks.

Remote Work Risks & Mitigation

1. Weak Passwords and no Multi-Factor Authentication

Weak passwords put login accounts at risk of a breach. Also, reusing passwords across several accounts is a huge cybersecurity risk. Remote workers often access company systems, databases, and sensitive information from various devices.

To mitigate this risk, you should create strong and unique passwords for each account. Additionally, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA or “2FA”) whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of login verification.

Employers can set up access management systems. These solutions help automate the authentication process. They can also deploy safeguards like contextual MFA.

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) such as NordVPN. Turn on the VPN when connecting to public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. A VPN encrypts the internet traffic. This ensures that data remains secure even on untrusted networks.

3. Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks remain a prevalent threat, and remote workers are particularly vulnerable. Attackers may send deceptive emails or messages. These messages trick users into revealing their login credentials or downloading malicious attachments.

To defend against phishing attacks, be cautious when opening emails. Especially those from unknown sources. Avoid clicking on suspicious links and always verify the sender’s email address.

Also, be wary of any requests for sensitive information. If in doubt, contact your IT support team or the person who is assumed to have made the request to confirm it is legitimate.

4. Insecure Home Network Devices

Many remote workers use Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as smart speakers, televisions, even doorbells these days. These devices can introduce vulnerabilities to your home network if not properly secured.

To address this risk, make sure to change the default passwords on your IoT devices. Also, keep them 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 by using an endpoint device manager like Sophos Mobile or Microsoft Intune. These devices make it easier to manage security and force compliance 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 and install them promptly to ensure vulnerabilities are patched and unable to be exploited.

6. Data Backup and Recovery

Remote workers generate and handle a significant amount of data. The loss or corruption of this data can be devastating. Implementing a robust 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 cybersecurity training. It helps them to understand security risks as well as best practices that will help protect your business. Unfortunately, many companies neglect this meaning employees are not aware of the potential threats they may encounter.

Organisations really should provide comprehensive cybersecurity training to remote workers. This training should cover topics such as:

  • Identifying phishing emails
  • Creating strong passwords
  • Recognising suspicious online behavior
  • New forms of phishing such as “smishing” (SMS-based phishing)

Get Help Improving Remote Team Cybersecurity

Remote work offers many benefits, but it’s important to remain vigilant about the associated cybersecurity risks. Address these risks head-on and put in place measures such as those above. If you’d like a hand, we’re here to help.

Give us a call today on 1300 249 248 to schedule a chat.


This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.