Remote and hybrid work models will continue to be prevalent in the post-pandemic world, now that various industries have proved capable of continuing their operations via cloud computing. However, attendant to this practice, although ideal in that it increases productivity, flexibility, and can in some circumstances, contribute to work-life balance, is the undesirable downside of remote work security vulnerabilities.
We examine the following remote work security risks that your enterprise should plan against to maximize your security and minimize the losses that accompany a data security breach.
1. Lax Physical Security in Public Places
Although digital data security is the main focus in cloud systems, physical security cannot be taken for granted when it comes to safeguarding your company’s sensitive information. Security awareness training should encompass normal, everyday situations where laxness on the part of the employee can lead to a data leak. For example, staff who may be talking about sensitive information in public may be inadvertently leaking that private data to the public. Or another situation may be where a person’s exposed laptop may be easily within line of sight of other people in a public place.
Security training programs for staff members should include awareness of the most basic measures, even if they seem like common sense or seem redundant to mention. A friendly but firm reminder for employees to practice awareness in their physical surroundings and to avoid ways of exposing your enterprise data will go a long way and will be a great benefit to your business.
2. Unencrypted File Sharing
Data encryption of information stored within an enterprise network is often thoughts of as a primary security measure. However, one should not neglect the necessity of data encryption while it is in transit from one place to another.
The volume of private data that is shared every day, from client account information to files, and more, employees share and transmit so much of this data daily. Your enterprise cannot afford to be lax about securing this information against falling into the hands of cybercriminals. If sensitive company information is intercepted by hackers, this opens the floodgates to possible ransomware attacks, theft, or identity fraud to name a few.
3. Unsafe WiFi Networks
The risk of remote work is that your business cannot control the security of the home wireless network of your employees or of the public unsecured WiFi they may be using while working from a cafe. This allows malicious threat actors nearby to spy on their connection and harvest confidential information. For example, unencrypted data sent in plain text may be intercepted by cybercriminals and held for ransom. Your employees must follow strict guidelines to avoid using unknown WiFi networks to access sensitive data unless they are using a VPN connection.
4. Using Personal Devices for Work
It’s not an uncommon practice for employees to transfer files between work and personal computers when working from home. Concurrently, there is a growing trend of companies allowing staff to use their personal devices at work, otherwise commonly referred to as a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy.
Businesses need to be aware of the consequences and issues involved by staff using their personal devices for work-related matters. For example, it is possible for them to hold onto sensitive work data that has been stored on their device long after they’ve resigned or been terminated from employment. This precludes your chance of erasing that confidential data.
Another risk in allowing personal device usage is that staff may not always keep their software up-to-date and patched against known security issues. One cannot underscore enough the need for the timely updating and maintenance of software for security reasons. Ultimately, the BYOD policy is too dangerous as it would be difficult for your business to control what happens on their endpoints.
5. Weak Password Policy
Although firewalls, VPNs, and other forms of cybersecurity measures are in place for securing your remote network, internal threat agents in the form of unintentional human error can easily compromise your system and an easy backdoor for malicious threat actors can easily exploit weak passwords as a means to penetrate your enterprise data system.
Because human error is easier to exploit than trying to crack a more sophisticated password security wall, cybercriminals are eager to attempt to crack weak passwords to gain access to private company data. Hackers can employ a variety of measures to crack passwords like putting together lists of frequently used passwords to easily access poorly protected accounts.
Cybercriminals also know that people tend to repeat passwords across different accounts. Hackers know that once they crack the password to one account, it will be possible to attempt to access other accounts with the same password. This is why staff who use repeat passwords across personal and business accounts are at a greater risk of falling prey to a cyber attack.
Remaining flexible and operational amidst all the uncertainty in the current climate necessitates a level of resilience and amenability to allow your employees to continue to work remotely. There are definite upsides to remote work, but there are also security risks that your business can ill afford to ignore. However, setting the pro-active security measures in place will put you in a solid position to make the most out of the advantages of remote work flexibility such as an increase in work-life balance, productivity and even talent retention.