The rapid spread of digital technologies in all life spheres creates more and more opportunities for hackers and fraudsters. There’s no doubt that in 2022 and beyond, the online world will keep expanding, and e-criminals will continue to develop their skills. Why is cybersecurity for remote workers so critical? Networks at home are less secure than corporate ones. It poses a severe risk to the devices connected to them, for example:
- traffic interception;
- password and private data capture;
- router hacking;
- user redirection to malicious websites.
Average users don’t always track the latest updates to their devices and neglect installing paid antivirus software. So, while you may increase Magento 2 speed (or perform similar optimization for other platforms), improve UX/UI, develop marketing strategies, and so on, your distributed company should also remember the importance of taking care of e-security. In this article, we will discuss three cyberthreats for companies that work remotely, as well as how to protect yourself from them.
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Cybersecurity for Remote Workers: Recent Statistics to Consider
According to the OpenVPN poll, 90% of IT professionals consider remote workers unprotected. 73% believe remote employees pose a more significant risk to data security than on-site workers.
Screenshot taken on the official OpenVPN website
However, the survey bears positive news: experts finally admit the security dangers associated with remote work. And it’s a crucial step toward resolving the problem.
A Kaspersky report suggests that 68% of remote workers access personal devices for work, and this figure has grown to 80%.
It doesn’t surprise us in 2022 due to the rapid adoption of the work-from-home pattern. Some companies weren’t ready to equip employees with corporate equipment at home.
Why using personal devices for work isn’t secure? You should realize that you also utilize such devices for leisure. Personal gadgets are exposed to various content outside of business hours.
It allows scammers to lure visitors into fake websites and download malware disguised as films or games. It endangers all the work data, files, and logins stored on the device. Now the advice to separate work and personal life takes on new meaning, doesn’t it?
The study also discovered that during the COVID-19 outbreak, 73% of remote employees didn’t receive any special cybersecurity awareness instruction or training from their company. 27% of received phishing emails related to COVID-19.
3 Cyberthreats to Remote-Working Businesses
You may switch to a remote approach, combine it with work from the office, or send employees on business trips. Without a doubt, managing remote security is more challenging than controlling your on-site endpoints. Let’s look at three bad practices remote workers may have that jeopardize the business and how to ensure cybersecurity for remote workers.
1. Wi-Fi Networks That Aren’t Safe
The first risk employees may face is connecting to unsafe Wi-Fi. It may be a personal wireless network or unprotected public Wi-Fi to access corporate accounts. Hackers can spy on these connections and capture sensitive data.
While many people update their smartphone or antivirus software for security reasons, they often disregard updates to home router software. Like other devices like your smartphone, outdated routers will have unpatched security gaps. It can result in data breach threats over time.
For example, thieves can intercept and steal data transferred in plain text without encryption. That’s why your employees should use a VPN connection in public places. If not, they should not be allowed to connect to unknown Wi-Fi networks.
What to Do with Unsafe Wi-Fi Connections
Protect your Wi-Fi network at home. If you work remotely, updating your router software to new configurations corrects any existing security flaws before a hacker can exploit them.
One more piece of advice is to install a firewall. Firewalls monitor network traffic and block harmful activity. See how it’s crucial for a remote employee? While some routers are hybrid router-firewalls, these firewalls aren’t very secure.
Remote workers should use at least WPA2 encryption, as WEP and WPA have been hacked and are far less secure. Other things remote employees can do at home to safeguard their network include hiding the network name from their neighbors.
2. Working with Personal Devices
When working from home, 46% of employees acknowledged copying files between their work and home computers, which is a concerning practice. At the same time, a trend to use personal devices at work has emerged, also known as “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD).
Using personal devices is an issue for the company, not only during work. As mentioned above, individual devices may be less protected than corporate ones, allowing hackers to access business data. Another problem arises when someone quits the company. They may keep the secret information stored on their device throughout their time there, and you won’t have the opportunity to delete it.
Not all your employees keep their software up to date, leaving security flaws in your system. However, installing software patches on time is crucial.
It proves why allowing employees to use their devices at work is undesirable. You won’t be able to manage what happens on their endpoints. Leverage such tools as TeamViewer to administer remote access and control the file exchange.
3. Collaboration Tool Vulnerabilities
When working in the office, the staff can deal with documents and hold meetings in person, sharing confidential information within a team. No matter whether they adhere to the Waterfall, Agile, or any other project development methodology. The fact is that they exchange data during discussions. Remote work has increased the demand for videoconferencing software and communication solutions. And cybercriminals didn’t leave this unnoticed.
Legitimate videoconferencing software isn’t as protected as it may seem. It also has security flaws. For example, a vulnerability in the Microsoft Teams corporate messaging service allowed an attacker to hack all organization’s accounts. Zoom jeopardized macOS users by enabling strangers to take control of a user’s device.
Another case in point is Google Docs and similar free platforms. Employees frequently collaborate on documents and exchange files using personal accounts. These services may also lack centralized rights management to be efficient in terms of cybersecurity for remote workers and protecting sensitive information.
How to Tackle Collaboration Tool Vulnerabilities
Install teleworker security hardware at the enterprise level, such as:
- next-generation firewalls;
- intrusion prevention systems;
- network-based tools against malware;
- 802.1x authentication for Wi-Fi access, and so on.
They aim to manage and regulate employee endpoint devices. But what happened when more employees began working from home? IT security administrators discovered that managing and controlling security policies became more difficult once the corporate network no longer protected the devices.
That’s when teleworker gateways can help. They extend corporate security features to employees’ homes. Additionally, these appliances create a secure VPN link to remote resources, so employees no longer have to install and maintain remote VPN software.
To Sum Up
Wi-Fi networks at home or in public places can jeopardize company data security. Furthermore, many individuals don’t have a firewall to protect their home network.
Even the common carelessness of employees can bring on a lot of trouble. How often do you connect to unsecured Wi-Fi in cafes? Or overlook the risk of losing or forgetting a working device in a public place? Let alone someone can steal a laptop when you aren’t alert.
These are the risks employees working remotely face in various spheres, from web development to content marketing consulting. So, what are the options to protect your team and promote cybersecurity for remote workers?
Look for encryption options you can use to turn on your router. If you’re a business owner, consider equipping remote workers with a firewall for better home Wi-Fi security, provided your company has money for it. If not, protect at least those who work with essential data, educate the staff on zero trust principles, and be careful with using personal devices for work.
About the Author
Art Malkovich is CEO and co-founder of Onilab, an eCommerce development company. He has about 10 years of experience in team management and web development for eCommerce. He is passionate about keeping up with recent technologies and working on innovative projects like headless commerce solutions and PWAs in particular.
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