Are Your Remote Employees Easy Targets For Cybercriminals?

The remote work model offers several benefits that you’ve likely taken notice of over the course of the pandemic. Remote workers have seen the benefits as well:

However, for all the ways remote work is beneficial to both the organization and end-users, it’s not without its challenges.

You’re reading this blog, which means you’re worried about remote cybersecurity to some extent — and you should be. More than 35% of organizations have dealt with a security incident due to an unsecured remote worker.

According to Morphisec’s Work-from-Home Employee Cybersecurity Threat Index, 20% of workers said their IT team had not provided any tips as they shifted to working from home.

Is that the case for your remote workers?

Phishing — The Top Threat To Your Remote Workers

CISA has issued a warning to US businesses about the increase in phishing and other social engineering scams over the course of the pandemic. CNN even reported a 500% increase in phishing attacks when the pandemic began.

Do you and your staff members know how to spot a phishing email? You better make sure — the average phishing attack costs businesses $1.6 million.

Phishing is a method in which cybercriminals send fraudulent emails that appear to be from reputable sources to get recipients to reveal sensitive information and execute significant financial transfers.

Phishing attacks are mass emails that request confidential information or credentials under pretenses, link to malicious websites, or include malware as an attachment.

With only a surprisingly small amount of information, cybercriminals can convincingly pose as business members and superiors to persuade employees to give them money, data, or crucial information.

Cybersecurity Considerations For Remote Work

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it hit fast.

Despite what, in retrospect, may have seemed like a gradual build-up, it was virtually over the course of a single weekend in March that businesses across the US had to pivot to a remote work model.

Obviously, the priority was maintaining business continuity. You needed to make sure your newly-remote workers had the technology and secure access necessary to do their work.

But the process doesn’t end there — security is a complicated undertaking for remote work models and requires ongoing attention.

Continuing with a remote work model, whether entirely or in part, will require:

  • Enhancing security measures
  • Providing the right hardware for users working permanently from home
  • Implementing more permanent file-sharing and collaboration tools

Critical Remote Security Solutions for Long-Term Remote Work

It has become increasingly common for organizations to hire new staff remotely due to the restrictions on travel and in-person meetings.  This remote hiring practice is very new to many organizations, who may also be struggling with how to train and monitor a new staff person remotely.

It’s important to recognize that when businesses start prioritizing remote access to data over that data’s security, they become an easy target for hackers.

Think of it this way — at the office. The same set of cybersecurity solutions protects everything. You have firewalls, antivirus software, hardware restrictions, regular software updates, and more. These are defenses that you’ve invested in and can trust.

Is the same true of your employees’ home networks and personal devices? Probably not.

With so many employees operating remotely from laptops or smartphones, how can you be sure that your data is completely secure?

Many leaders assume that a VPN is enough to protect their business while managing a remote work environment. That’s not necessarily true — one wrong step and a remote worker can put your network at risk.

Your Remote Work Cybersecurity Checklist

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Two-factor authentication is a great way to add an extra layer of protection to the existing system and account logins. By requiring a second piece of information like a randomly-generated numerical code sent by text message, you’re able to make sure that the person using the login credentials is actually who they say they are. However, this isn’t just for websites and common user accounts — 2FA should also be enabled for VPN and Remote Desktops.
  • Conditional Access: Conditional Access software gives you the ability to enforce controls on the access to apps in your environment, all based on specific conditions and managed from a central location. It’s an extra layer of security that makes sure only the right people — under the right conditions — have access to business data.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP): A DLP policy tracks sensitive data and where it’s stored, determines who has the authorization to access it, and prevents the accidental sharing of sensitive information.
  • Email Security: Did you know that 96% of phishing attacks and 49% of malware attacks originate as emails? That’s why you should have powerful email spam and content filter protecting your organization’s inboxes. The right filter will defend against phishing and email-based malware while also blocking impostor emails and business email compromise (BEC) attacks.
  • Backups: Given that many organizations are using cloud-based platforms today, users often assume that their data is automatically backed up to a secure off-site location. But is that really the case? Reliable backup capability requires additional support. The key is in finding the right third-party backup solution to support your cloud-based accounts. By adding data backup capabilities, you can make sure all your bases are covered.
  • VPN: When you use a virtual private network (VPN), your data is encrypted, or hidden, as it moves from your device to the VPN and then continues onto the Internet. That makes it harder for an attacker to identify you as the source of the data.
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) Protection: EDR is an emerging technology that addresses the need for continuous monitoring and response to advanced threats. This is a vital service that protects endpoints like laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, servers, and virtual environments. Endpoint protection may also include antivirus and antimalware, web filtering, and more.

Don’t Forget to Educate Your Staff.

Did you know that more than 90% of cybersecurity incidents can be traced back to human error?

Cybersecurity awareness training is an essential part of effective remote cybersecurity defense. Are your staff members supporting your cybersecurity or putting it at risk?

What you (and your staff) don’t know could hurt you. If your staff isn’t up to date on the latest cybercrime scams, then they’re putting your data at risk — simple as that.

The key to truly comprehensive cybersecurity is simple yet often overlooked: the user.

The best cybersecurity technology and practices in the world can be undone by one staff member who doesn’t understand how to use them or how to protect the data they work with.

The right training services will offer exercises, interactive programs, and even simulated phishing attacks to test your staff on several key areas:

  • How to identify and address suspicious emails, phishing attempts, social engineering tactics, and more.
  • How to use technology without exposing data and other assets to external threats by accident.
  • How to respond when you suspect that an attack is occurring or has occurred.

Need Expert Guidance In Securing Your Remote Workforce?

If you plan to continue with remote work in one way or another, you may need to change your model of IT support — as you and the other leaders in your organization have likely discovered since the start of the pandemic, your ability to work remotely and securely depends directly on your IT support.

In the remote setting, technology is necessary so that you and your staff can:

  • Access files, applications, and systems from a remote setting
  • Collaborate with colleagues, partners, and customers via video conferencing solutions
  • Stay secure against the increased rate of phishing attacks related to the pandemic.
  • Maintain communications with cloud-based phone systems that keep staff connected

GO Concepts can help — over the pandemic, we’ve gained extensive experience in helping our partners launch, optimize, and secure remote work capabilities. Now that the mad rush to go remote is over, it’s time to perfect your processes. You don’t have to do so alone.

Get in touch with the GO Concepts team to get started.