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Remote Working and Cyber Security Risks

  • 28th February 2022

Written by Andréa Williams, Head of Marketing

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Flexible working has become the norm for many businesses since 2020 and the trend isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. With more and more people adopting either a flexible or entirely remote way of working, companies need to ensure that their teams are up to date with and aware of cyber safety at home.

Whether you’re a business that deals with sensitive information, or you just want to make sure your  credentials are protected from cyber-attacks, here’s how to guarantee a safe remote working environment.

Dangers of remote access

While remote access has paved the way for happier employees in terms of work/life balance, the dangers of remote access from an employer’s point of view aren’t as straightforward. While many businesses have pivoted to a flexible working pattern recently, that doesn’t mean that the right processes and tools are necessarily in place. With that said, let’s look at some of the most common working from home risks when it comes to cyber security.

Phishing schemes

Arguably the biggest threat to your network’s security comes from your employees, who can unknowingly fall into the trap of cyber criminals and hackers who are looking to gain access to your network and potentially sensitive data. A prime example of this is phishing schemes.

Did you know that at least one person has clicked a phishing link in 86% of businesses and that phishing scams account for around 90% of data breaches?

Phishing schemes are usually via email and involve a hacker posing as a legitimate contact, whether that be another colleague, stakeholder or a trusted partner. These emails can trick people into giving up data and/or information that can be used to hack into accounts, steal data, commit fraud and so on. Modern-day phishing emails are getting harder and harder to spot which means they are more likely to be successful.

Passwords

One of the easiest ways for hackers to start mining your data is through weak passwords. They will use a variety of different methods to crack passwords and most of them involve preying on human error. For example, hackers will have a bank of common passwords that they can adapt and change. They are also known to use code written especially to continuously attempt password variations without any manual intervention at all. Once they have it cracked, they can access, download and share your data. 

Personal devices

As more people move to fully remote or hybrid working, the more they move between their devices at home. For example, sending files between work and personal laptops or phones, or using an unsecured VPN on a tablet to access documents.

When it comes to cyber safety at home, people don’t think about the need to encrypt their personal devices, especially smartphones. But it’s all too easy for people to sign into a platform or email while on their phone which leaves things like phone calls, log-in details and other data vulnerable to hacking. Similarly, if an employee leaves a company, they may unintentionally be storing business information and data on their devices.

Cyber security tips

While all of that can sound quite scary and worrying, there are luckily lots of ways businesses can address these common issues, including:

Make relevant platforms and tools known

To stop the risk of data from being accessed by criminals, everyone in your company must know the tools and platforms they should be using, including on-site and remote employees.

They should only be accessing approved tools, platforms and conference software and shouldn’t be signing up to anything new without running it past your IT team. Any new software should be brought to the attention of the relevant person who can look into how safe it is and how it can be safely incorporated into your business.

Firewalls for remote access

Including firewalls for remote access will prevent unauthorised access by monitoring network traffic and blocking anything that looks suspicious. A firewall is a really important tool that can protect your remote endpoints from all kinds of cyber threats. Firewalls protect the computer itself from being corrupted. You’ll need a VPN if you want to protect shared networks, like cloud storage.

Use a VPN

All the devices being used by your employees should be accessing Wi-Fi via a secure VPN. That means your employees should be telling you if they are using multiple devices to work on at home, including any personal or company property.

A VPN manages traffic from your private network. Unlike a trusted firewall, a secure VPN means that anyone who tries to intercept the encrypted data won’t be able to read it. This protects your employees and your  shared network or cloud storage.

Provide cyber security awareness training for staff

 Prevention is better than cure, and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to cyber security. Unfortunately, a lot of hackers and cyber threats rely on human error. That’s your weak passwords, swapping between personal devices and clicking on links in phishing emails. While these are harmless mistakes, they can easily be prevented with proper training.

The first step of IT security for home workers starts with understanding what could go wrong. So, use a specialist company to educate and inform your teams on how to identify threats, prevent them from happening and take the right steps to avoid them in the first place.

Are you worried about the cyber-related working from home risks? Get in touch today to find out how our cyber security services can help your business.

  • 28th February 2022

Written by Andréa Williams, Head of Marketing

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