The UK’s Office for National Statistics released findings from April 2020 that showed 49.2% of adults in employment were working from home. Despite this, working from home is still considered a fairly new work arrangement that many businesses have embraced since the beginning of the pandemic.
However, the pandemic caused many businesses to abruptly transition over to remote work without adequate remote work cyber security protocols and measures in place, leaving businesses vulnerable and open to potential cyber attacks and/ or data breaches.
Businesses that are looking to indefinitely adopt remote working practices need to take serious action in regards to their remote working security if they are to protect their employees and prevent their data from being compromised.
Common remote working security risks
Many cyber criminals are preying on and targeting remote workers as they are more susceptible to phishing attacks due to their weakened remote IT. Vulnerable remote work cyber security combined with a different routine and new distractions can make it much easier for remote workers to make poorer judgements or human errors that can potentially lead to a successfully launched phishing attack.
Cyber attackers aim to trick their targets into clicking on a malicious attachment or link that will download malware onto the target’s device and compromise their remote IT and confidential data. Quite often these sorts of attacks are usually paired with ‘ransomware’, where payment will be required in order to decrypt or retrieve the compromised files.
Home routers are infamously known for their security flaws making them one of the first points of contact that a hacker will attempt to compromise as part of them gaining access to your devices and data. Quite often homeowners forget to change the default router password to a more secure one, therefore further contributing to an already weakened IT security for home workers.
Alongside using a strong password, you must also change them regularly. To ensure that your password is considered to be ‘secure’, you need to use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, special characters and numbers.
Lack of recovery systems and strategies
You will find that not all cyber attacks can be 100% prevented which is why you should prepare for the worst case scenario, regardless of whether you are a remote or an office-based worker. A business cannot resume efficiently without its data, therefore you are in crucial need of a reliable backup system that will retrieve up-to-date copies of your original data quickly. This prevents unnecessary downtime and disruption within your business.
How to maintain security when employees work remotely
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are very similar to firewalls. They are very popular and used by users worldwide by both remote and non-remote workers. A VPN encrypts your connection to the internet, providing you with a cloak of anonymity through encryption and prevents unauthorised users from seeing what you do on the web. It also completely hides your IP address and true location. VPNs make it extremely challenging for hackers to pinpoint your IP address in order to compromise your device, contributing towards maintaining security when employees work remotely.
Multi-factor authentication where possible
Multi-factor authentication prevents unauthorised user access by requiring all users to verify their identities through an additional line of cyber security, past the usual username and password requirements. Many businesses choose to skip this protocol as it does take additional time and can be perceived as a bit of a hassle. However, it is arguably one of the best lines of cyber security defence to keep your data secure and inaccessible by cyber attackers to maintain security when employees work remotely.
Remote employees need to use strong and unique passwords on all of their devices, accounts and emails. This means that if one of the passwords were to become compromised, the hackers would not be able to attempt it on other accounts on your device. A strong password will make it much more difficult for cyber attackers to crack. You should use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, special characters, symbols and numbers.
Reliable backup systems
As we mentioned earlier in the post, not all cyber attacks can be successfully prevented. Even some of the biggest businesses with high-tech cyber security, such as Facebook or Sony Pictures, have fallen victim to cyber attacks.
A reliable backup and recovery system’s sole purpose is to create copies of your data that can be easily recovered in the event of a data breach, hack, corruption or data failure. Cyber attacks are not the only threat to your business’s data, a simple human error can cause data to be deleted or damaged. Therefore you should also consider training remote employees on best practices with regard to cyber security and the protection of data.
As the option to work from home increases, so does the importance of IT security for home workers to reduce the risk of cyber attacks and increase security. Cyber security requires caution and vigilance, especially if your employees are working from home. If you are unsure about what the best practices are for remote cyber security or are looking for cyber security training, contact us today and see how we can help!