The novel coronavirus has taken the world by a storm. It has changed everyday life and how we go about our daily routine. Apart from affecting personal lives, it has also upset the professional ones. Most companies globally have adopted remote working models to keep operations running amid strict lockdowns.
The new work model has brought about many new challenges. On the one hand, it has made internal communication difficult, while on the other, it creates challenges related to ensuring that everyone has enough resources to work remotely. Making sure that all resources are secure from potential cyber-attacks is another headache.
Cybersecurity challenges will only grow with time as more and more people work from home. Hackers are already targeting people working from home, looking for weaknesses in their remote working environments.
It’s time that businesses and individuals take precautions to ensure they do not suffer losses at data thieves’ hands. As per estimates, 33% of data losses in 2021 will be due to internal incidents.
Ensuring these important steps for cybersecurity is an excellent place to start. Of course, there are other options that both the employees and their organizations can adopt to lower or remove the risk of losing data or their systems being compromised in any way.
Let’s dig in a little further.
1. Use of Secured Wi-Fi Connections
Using a secured Wi-Fi connection is the first step an employee must take when working from home. A secured connection requires the user to sign a contract, have terms and conditions, or need a password to access it. Many coffee shops and restaurants offer open or unsecured Wi-Fi connections.
While using the internet for free is quite a sweet deal, especially while you’re out and about, it can lead to your system being hacked. Employees mustn’t let their guard down when grabbing a cup of coffee or a meal outside their living space. Ideally, no devices should ever be exposed to unsecured connections.
2. Using Personal Devices
The use of personal devices for official work is a big no-no. Many people access their official portals with their cell phones, tablets, or laptops. Often these devices do not have ample protection from viruses and may even be infected. Crucial data can be lost through such devices.
Suppose a company is not able to provide devices to the employees physically. In that case, they should ensure that the devices they use have the right software to protect against hacking and viruses in general. It means running scans on every device that will be operated remotely. These actions will add to existing costs, but it is well worth it since their data will remain safe.
3. Encrypted File Sharing
Most companies have their secure software for the purpose of sharing official documents. Some companies rely on cloud services such as DropBox, Google Drive, and iCloud Drive, while others may opt for more popular software like Skype or We Transfer.
Employees must ensure that they share data using these services only. To ensure that the data remains safe, they should send it through the company’s issued devices like laptops or cell phones and use their official accounts.
Using personal devices or even personal accounts of the previously mentioned services can lead to data losses in some cases.
4. Beware of Phishing Schemes
Phishing schemes are getting more and more elaborate by the day, and even a slight oversight on your part can lead to catastrophic results. There are multiple types of phishing attacks.
- The essentially harmful links sent to a broad audience to emails addressed to the employees or executives with names and designation mentioned with harmful attachments or links.
- The attacks can also be made through SMS or calls on cellular phones. DNS poisoning is yet another technique used by data thieves.
- The key is to pay attention to emails or messages when you get them. The phishing emails may offer several clues about their fishy nature.
- They’re usually offering something enticing and may even partially replicate an official email address.
- Always look for signs such as unusual links to click. Please hover your mouse over them to see their path.
- Also, do not open unique attachments before confirming they are indeed official. When you’re entering your login credentials, be sure that the website has the HTTPS certificate.
- Phishing attacks can lead to theft of data on the device to access the company’s system. More sophisticated attacks targeting the executives can gain the access level the same as the top executives and access all kinds of data about the company and its employees.
- If an employee comes across such an email, they should flag the incident to system support right away.
5. Update the Policies
Companies also bear grave responsibility for protecting their data and ensuring that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Since working from home will be the reality for the foreseeable future, policies must evolve accordingly. This will require investment in extra infrastructure and hardware as well as software.
- They should also get cyber insurance. While it is relatively uncommon, more companies are opting for it, given the increase in cyber-attacks in the last few years. Such insurance can be beneficial in case data is stolen.
- Ideally, all employees with access to crucial organizational data should have company-issued devices with the same protection level as workstations at work.
- Those using the personal device should also get their anti-virus updates and other measures to lower data loss risk.
6. Train the Employees
All employees, especially those working remotely, should be trained to handle the new working environment’s unknown risks. Many top organizations require their employees to undergo risk training from time to time. These pieces of training need to be updated to include risk mitigation for employees working remotely against phishing and other risks.
The training must continue to evolve as the cybersecurity threats do the same. At the same time, a support staff that handles the backend issues are also trained for newer challenges they will face. With remote work, the volume of the problems is bound to increase for a fair amount of time, and support teams should have the capacity to handle adverse situations.
7. Audit Internal Systems
While ensuring that employees do not leak any data unintentionally, it is also imperative that the company’s systems can deal with external attacks. All the precautions cannot prevent loss of data if the systems countering these attacks are outdated.
Companies worldwide will need to invest in their security systems and infrastructure to ensure that they are safe from a catastrophic loss of information significantly. Considering that remote work will save several other costs to companies, it is a win-win situation.
Work from home is here to stay, and even when the conditions go back to previous normal, the work model will not. People will surely return to offices, but working from home will also be considered acceptable and even appreciated by some organizations opposed to it previously.
The model has significant cost savings attached to it, and with a robust cybersecurity infrastructure in place, companies will want to benefit from it. The key is to understand the challenges now and act without wasting any time. Those overly thinking about the changes may suffer eventual losses due to their late actions.
Dianne Bunney is the Head of Client Services and owner at P1 technology. Di knows what it’s like to be “on the other side” of IT, so she’s in charge of making sure P1 lives up to our People Driven mission. Di has a long history of being active and once even owned a swim school and a personal training business! She also loves hanging out with her family, good food and wine, learning new things and meeting new people.