How Working Remotely Increases Cybersecurity Risks – How to Address The Threats? You've been asked to work from home…what are your first thoughts? Are you thrilled? Are you at ease? Or are you scared of how you'll cope with the change in environment? There are hundreds of questions that swarm our minds when we're asked to work remotely.
No one said things were going to be easy. Most of us assume working remotely means slacking off for hours, or getting extra comfortable in the PJ's, but did you think it was going to be all sunshine and roses?
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there's a lot you need to look out for when working remotely. The weight on your shoulders will double, you'll be asked to handle a lot more than you can chew.
And what absolutely brings things down a tenfold…the lack in security!
Yeah, that's right. If you're not careful with how you handle your remote work situation, things can easily go haywire, especially in the rise of cyber-attacks.
Yes, working from home has its perks, trust me it does, but why not create a safer environment for you as well? You've been trusted with large amounts of work files, personal credentials of multiple international clients, or even asked to manage the company's website. What happens to all of this, when the device you use isn't secured?
Are you going to pay for the losses when all of the above is comprised? No. But, you can put a stop and lower your chances of being victim to future cyber-attacks. However, first let's talk about what kind of attacks you're facing if unprotected.
What cybersecurity risks do remote workers face?
The cyber-world is changing day by day. Hackers are coming up with newer and better ways to steal information, disrupt the system, and gain large amounts of profits.
Regardless of whether you're working at the office, been sent to work remotely, a freelancer since the beginning of time; it doesn't matter. Cyber-attacks are inevitable and can strike at any time.
However, the risks are higher and the situation worsens for remote workers, especially now, since the Covid-19 pandemic is still at hand. Hackers create attacks around the pandemic situation, taking full advantage of it.
Working from home is much different in comparison to working at the office. Yes, the work is the same, but there's no IT or security team waiting in the next room to assist you. You're on your own in that area.
Here's what some cyber-attacks look like that remote workers face on a daily basis – what they should be aware of:
Phishing is one of the leading ways to infiltrate someone's device and disrupt their careers to the core. You may have noticed that at some point in time, you've probably received at least one or two emails from “known” sources, asking you to send in your email ID and password etc.
The email might even be sculpted in such a way to make you believe that your device or files have already been compromised, and if you don't hand in a ridiculous amount of money, the hacker will retaliate.
Phishing doesn't only take shape in the form of emails, but can be delivered by text messages, post, or even a phone call. The degree of scams have much more advanced lately. And even though you think you're going to be careful, it just takes one carefully and beautifully crafted email to hit your inbox. You might just fall for it.
You could lose extreme loads of important data, money, or have your devices and accounts compromised.
2. Fake security apps
The security at a workplace won't be carried into your homes. There's no security team waiting at the other end of the line, for you to ask immediate assistance.
Maybe you keep well-informed about cybersecurity risks of remote working and set off to take measures into your own hands. Let's say you have no knowledge about what security app to use and just go for any that seemed “intriguing.”
This could cause further issues in the long haul.
Without any research, you managed to invest your trust into a free anti-virus or VPN. Apps like these could send malware or viruses streaming through your devices, crashing important files. In fact, certain third-grade apps often come with spyware technology.
3. Man-in-the-middle attacks
This depends on the kind of work your department entrusts you with. There are times when half the workforce works within the office and half are home-based. There are also situations like now during the pandemic where everyone is sent to work from home.
There needs to be a set platform where the entire department of various teams coordinate with the heads. Let's say a website was provided for discussing sensitive office content, where everyone collaborates and shares their ideas.
Now, knowing that the risks of cyber-attacks are high for remote workers, and the security measures are lower, this makes it very easy for a hacker to break through the network, sign into your account, posing as an endpoint. The hacker then coordinates with the manager and staff posing to be either, or. This is a classic Man-in-the-middle attack.
What can you do, to lower the risks?
Even though cyber-attacks are extremely high, and even though the risks ate numerous, this doesn't mean you should just sit back in those PJ's and say “So, what's the point then?”
There are a few security tips and measures that you should abide by, and invest more time in, especially if you'd like to lower your chances of getting hacked. They are:
Research and education
Firstly, I don't blame remote workers for not having basic knowledge on how to hands situations like these. A workplace needs to have training sessions and educational seminars regarding cybersecurity measures – what to do and how to tackle them.
Even if half the team is working remotely, there's something called Skype or Zoom. Include all your staff, because at the end of the day everyone is handling an important piece of the office.
Research plays another big role. Most workplaces don't like spending too much energy or resources on educational seminars. However, why should that come to a full stop for you? The internet is your playground. Make good use of it. Look for various forums and take initiative from other remote workers that once were in a similar position.
Look up multiple user reviews on the most reliable security software you wish to invest in. Don't just blindly dive in.
Update your security apps
Regardless of whether you've just downloaded a security app or you've had it for the past year, update them! Most security vulnerabilities come from outdated apps. Patch up the holes, and keep them squeaky clean. There's a reason why update alerts are constantly swarming our devices.
Older software apps means less security and older encryption standards. It's much easier to break into.
Use stronger passwords and double factor authentication
When working remotely, there are some situations where your parents, kids, siblings etc. all want to use your pc, laptop or phone. They might even drift off unintentionally and open up work files.
What happens when they accidentally send out an email, or misplace a file? This too is a part of security risks. Besides if ever your device gets misplaced or stolen, the intruder won't be able to get in that easily.
Constructing passwords should always be a huge deal. Never keep them simple and most certainly do not use the same password for your social accounts and work email.
You never know what all can go wrong when working remotely. Always make sure you back up important data and delete the rest. And if you're deleting the rest, make sure no trail or crumb gets left behind. You'll never know when something important might be stored on that piece of material you discarded. If landed in the wrong hands, there's a lot that it could be used for.
Working remotely can raise the bar very high when it comes to security risks and cyber-attacks, but why let it be the center of your world? Take control and learn how to overcome threats.
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