Remote Working And Cybersecurity Risks In A Post COVID-19 World

COVID-19 has proved to be the Waterloo of many businesses globally. However, the industry has been quick to respond. The pandemic has triggered a rapid transition towards a remote workforce. While the shift has been abrupt, organisations have little time to adapt and enforce proper cybersecurity risk management to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their information assets. The pandemic has impacted all aspects of business organisations and the way businesses used to operate, but a comprehensive approach by considering people, process, and technology together can help organisations not only survive but thrive in a post-pandemic digital world.

Key Cybersecurity Risks Pertaining To Remote Working
Remote working can put the organisation’s data at risk without anyone being aware of it.There can be data breaches, phishing attacks, identity frauds, and various other cyber threats associated with working from home. Here are some of the typical remote working risks that businesses face.

Phishing Attacks Remains The Favourite Attack Mode For Malicious Actors
Working from home or remote locations is the order of the day. However, it can be the source of the most significant cybersecurity risks as employees can unintentionally provide malicious actors unauthorized access to the business organisation’s information assets.

Phishing involves cyber adversaries posing as legitimate entities and sending emails with malicious links or attachments that employees unknowingly access or download. It can give malicious actors access to an organisation’s critical data. With improving technology, even threat actors have evolved their ways to lure the end-user, making it challenging to detect their modus operandi, especially when these emails find their way into the employee’s inbox.

Compromised Passwords Can Prove Dangerous
Interestingly in 2021, the string “123456” is still the most commonly used password in the past 10 years. The organisation could have the best cybersecurity strategies, such as firewalls, anti-malware solutions, VPNs, etc., in place to keep malicious actors at bay. However, all these measures can come to nought if employees compromise with their passwords and share them with others. Having weak passwords can also contribute to a higher risk.

Malicious actors know that it can be easy to compromise passwords rather than find their way around sophisticated security software. Specifically-designed bots can also crack weak passwords. Besides, using repeating passwords can also make the systems vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Using Personal Devices Can Be Risky
When someone works from home, it becomes inevitable to use personal devices because no one can take the entire office home. Employees often resort to using personal devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets and connect with their office network through file sharing and other means. Hence, mobile device management should also be of utmost precedence.

Personal devices can be vulnerable because people generally do not encrypt them. Hence, threat actors can intrude into their smartphones and other communicating devices and access the organisation’s crucial information.

Tips To Have An Effective Risk Management Strategy To Deal With Cyber Threats In a Post COVID-19 Digital World
As discussed, leaving the remote working-related risks unchecked will result in severe undesirable consequences. Organisations must establish and maintain a solid foundation of risk management strategies to prevent cyber threats that may occur at any unexpected moment. The following are some of the essential constituents that must be part of a comprehensive plan to keep remote working cyber risks as low as possible.

Phishing Prevention: One way of the easiest yet the most effective ways of dealing with phishing attacks or social engineering attacks is educating employees about phishing and cybersecurity best practices, such as installing robust email filters and detecting a phishing email effectively in case it somehow gets past the spam filter.

Password Protection: The ideal risk management strategy to overcome passwords related issues is to have a robust password policy and using MFA or multi-factor authentication for sensitive and confidential data. It becomes essential for employees to use robust passwords that cyber adversaries cannot break or guess easily. Additionally, employees should not share with anyone or store passwords (even physically, such as writing them down).

Basic Cyber Hygiene: Following basic cyber hygiene can do wonders. Organisations must mandate that employees use secured VPNs to access the enterprise network. Employees, on the other hand, must not connect to insecure or unknown networks. Watch out for suspicious network activities, phishing emails, and shoulder surfing.

Mobile Device Management Or MDM: Is critical to managing remote working risks, and hence organisations must promote basic security best practices. The ideal solution is to have an effective mobile device management strategy.

Provide employees with secured devices: Organisations can insist on employees using VPNs to connect to the enterprise network system. Mobile devices should include encryption features as an effective risk management policy.

Printing from anywhere : Is fraught with risks because it leaves a gaping hole in the firewall to allow seamless communication with the enterprise network. Employees should disable this feature from their devices.

Desktop-as-a-Service: Transform the personal device into an office work desktop and access official applications and files on the enterprise network. They can lease out virtual desktops or use the private cloud service.

Employee Awareness, Education, And Training: Employees are your strongest defence against cyber threats. Employees should be vigilant and avoid falling prey to phishing email attacks. They should not be complacent and think that nobody can break into their accounts. Businesses should consider training their employees to follow cybersecurity best practices.

Final Words
Remote working is beneficial to every business, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the risks associated with it are enormous. Even a minor activity related to remote working, such as checking an email, is indeed tied to multiple threats from unexpected quarters. Kindus have a range of services and solutions that can aid your organisation to review, implement and monitor remote working controls to reduce the attack surface for a potential malicious actor looking to exploit your organisation. Call or email us today to speak to one of our specialist cyber security consultants and begin your journey to a safer remote workplace environment.

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