Nexix Security Labs
Most Common Remote Work Security Risks
Remote work has grown in popularity and acceptance around the world, especially as more organizations enable a large portion of their workforce to work from home. However, while this approach improves flexibility, productivity, and work-life balance, it comes with a cost: remote work security issues.
Because of the new remote-working environment produced by the COVID-19 epidemic, cybersecurity has become a bigger worry for enterprises all around the world.
Organizations should start looking toward more advanced measures, such as investing in a zero-trust model and identity-centric services, to provide a better approach to these frequent attacks, given the need for more rigorous and powerful cybersecurity to protect personnel working remotely.
Remote Work Security Risks for Employees
Companies may have a completely remote workforce, employees who work from home on occasion, or employees who travel often for business. And, without a doubt, managing their security is more challenging than managing your on-site endpoints.
Here are five negative habits that remote workers in an organization may have that put the firm in jeopardy:
1. Accessing Sensitive Data Through Unsafe Wi-Fi Networks
Your employees could be connecting to their personal wireless network or using unprotected public Wi-Fi to access their corporate accounts. As a result, bad actors in the vicinity can easily eavesdrop on their connection and capture sensitive data. For example, material transferred in plain text without encryption could be intercepted and stolen by thieves. As a result, unless your employees are using a VPN connection, they should not be allowed to connect to any unknown Wi-Fi networks.
2. Using Personal Devices for Work
When working from home, 46% of employees acknowledged copying files between work and personal computers, which is a concerning practice. At the same time, a trend has emerged that allows employees to use their personal devices at work, known as a "Bring Your Own Device" or BYOD policy.
You must be fully informed of the issues that arise when your employees use their personal devices for work-related purposes. For example, they may leave the firm unexpectedly and keep the secret information stored on their device throughout their job, and you will not have the opportunity to delete it.
Furthermore, they may not be maintaining their software up to date, allowing security gaps to develop in your environment. For good reason, we constantly emphasize the need of deploying software patches in a timely manner.
As a result, we don't recommend allowing your employees to use their personal devices at work because you won't be able to manage what happens on their endpoints.
3. Ignoring Basic Physical Security Practices in Public Places
Even while cybersecurity is our primary concern, we can't ignore physical security when it comes to your company's important data. Employees may, for example, be talking on their phones loudly while working in public places, exposing their laptop screen to the entire population inside a café, or even leaving their equipment unattended.
Even the most basic security procedures should be taught to staff, even if they appear to be common sense at first glance. A friendly reminder to them not to reveal your company's data will always be beneficial.
4. Using Weak Passwords
Human error occurs when employees attempt to safeguard their accounts with weak passwords, even if a firm uses VPNs, firewalls, and other cybersecurity measures to keep your remote network safe. Human error is easier to exploit than trying to get past an advanced security solution, which is why cybercriminals would try to crack account passwords in order to gain access to sensitive company data.
To crack passwords, hackers employ a variety of techniques. For example, they would compile databases of commonly used passwords that can be used to quickly access accounts with weak security.
Repeating passwords is another common insecure practice used by fraudsters. Once they've cracked one account's password, they'll try to access additional accounts using the same password. Employees who reuse passwords, especially across personal and professional accounts, are more likely to be victims of a cyberattack.
5. The Practice of Unencrypted File Sharing
While corporations may consider encrypting data while it is kept on their network, they may not consider encrypting data while it is in transit.
Your employees share so much personal information on a daily basis, from customer account information to files and more, that your organization can't afford to leave it vulnerable to cybercriminals. Identity fraud, ransomware cyberattacks, theft, and other problems might result if critical firm information is intercepted.
Remote Work Security Risks for Companies
Your remote workers may be putting your company's data at risk without even realizing it. Working from home has the potential to result in data breaches, identity theft, and a slew of other problems.
1. Email Scams
Employees who work from home pose the greatest risk to the security of your network. Employees can unwittingly provide threat actors access to your network and confidential information by unintentionally following cybersecurity best practices.
Employees may be perplexed as to how to continue working securely if company activities are abruptly or temporarily changed to remote work. Phishing methods are the most serious cyber threat to remote employees.
Phishing schemes involve a person or entity impersonating a legitimate source, typically via email, in order to trick a victim into providing private login credentials or privileged information, which can then be used to break into accounts, steal more confidential information, commit identity fraud, and more.
Phishing emails have advanced to the point where it is becoming increasingly difficult for employees to detect them, especially when they get pass email filters and into an employee's main inbox.
2. Security Controls are Weaker
The relaxation of firewall rules and email policy is only a small part of the security restrictions that have been weakened. Remote personnel will be exempt from multiple levels of cyber security now in place. Workers who take their work devices home with them will be stripped of their defenses as their personal Wi-Fi replaces the business network.
Now that NAC, IDS, and NGFW or proxy servers are no longer available, client devices will remain unprotected and vulnerable to unsecured networks among potentially hacked devices. Furthermore, the security of the internal network could be compromised. Remote workers may require access to resources that were previously only available on a wired network in a single location.
3. Cyberattacks on Remote-working Infrastructure
Aside from weakening existing safeguards, the creation of new infrastructure will introduce additional dangers. Brute force and server-side assaults should be avoided at all costs. DDoS protection will be necessary as well.
This will be the first time that a DDoS attack has the potential to kill a company by prohibiting remote workers from accessing services via the internet. Both of these types of attacks are expected to expand dramatically, according to researchers.
4. Threats Everywhere
There are security dangers associated with remote work in every direction! Unfortunately, there will be those inside our companies who wish to kick us out while we are already in a bad situation. For malicious insiders, sudden remote working is a godsend. In the quiet of their own home, sensitive information can now be effortlessly taken from a corporate device via USB.
Security monitoring can be turned off or turned off completely. This is a more difficult threat to address. It may not be possible to eliminate it entirely, but it can be weighed against the requirement for productivity and data availability.
People in our immediate environment may also pose a threat. Yes, you read that correctly. Most of us believe we live with individuals we can trust, but from a business standpoint, their employees' homes are zero-trust zones. Private conversations are now audible, and intellectual property is visible on TVs and monitors in living rooms all around the world. What is the solution? To work from home safely, we need to educate all of our staff.
Creating a Work-from-home Security Policy
So, how can you protect your company's confidential information when you don't have complete control over the devices that connect to your network? Where should you begin to ensure the safety of your remote workforce? How can you make remote work less risky in terms of cybersecurity?
The first step is to develop a security policy tailored to the needs of remote workers. The OpenVPN study found that 93% of IT professionals had a defined remote work policy in place, which is quite impressive and comforting.
The following are the key security clauses to include in your remote work policy:
Clearly define which positions are eligible for remote work:- Be open and honest with your employees. Due to security concerns, everyone should be aware of which job functions are permitted to be performed remotely and which are not. Unfortunately, not all jobs are suitable for remote work. If you don't have a clear policy in place, your work-from-home approvals are likely to be viewed as unfair.
List the tools and platforms they should be using:- Remote and on-site personnel should always be on the same page and use the same approved tools, such as cloud storage platforms, communication/video conferencing tools, project management systems, and so on.
Provide employees with steps to follow at the first signs of account compromise:- If customers suspect the company's data has been compromised, they should be given clear instructions, such as where to report the issue and how to change their passwords right away. These procedures, along with others like how to develop strong passwords, should be included in their mandated cybersecurity training.
Best Practices to Avoid Security Risks When Working from Home
The following are the essential tools that both your on-site and remote staff should have on their devices:
1. Multi-factor authentication
On top of your remote employees' accounts, this form of authentication will add an extra degree of protection. The more security layers you have in place, the less chance cybercriminals will obtain access to your sensitive systems.
2. Password Manager
Your employees should use a password manager in addition to multi-factor authentication when it comes to passwords. They won't have to remember all of the many passwords they'll need to set up for their work accounts this way.
Even when your employees work from home, VPN connections are critical when they connect to unprotected networks like Wi-Fi hotspots. It is suggested that your staff use the VPN provided by your firm. This tool routes traffic from your organization's private network across the internet, ensuring even more protection. In other words, anyone attempting to intercept the encrypted data will be unable to read it. Your employees will be able to connect to your company's intranet, which is a private network that is only accessible to your company's employees (in case you have one).
Unauthorized access to and from the network will be prevented by a firewall, further enhancing the security of your employees' devices. Firewalls are devices that monitor network traffic while also detecting and blocking undesirable data. Firewalls are crucial tools for protecting your distant endpoints from a variety of cyber attacks.
5. A strong EDR solution
Last but not least, your system administrators should always have access to the precise specifications of your endpoints. This is why an endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution is recommended, as it will enable you to remotely avoid next-generation malware, data leaks, respond swiftly to threats, and manage software rollout and patching.
In today's business environment, it's critical for you to be inventive and competitive, and allowing your workers to work remotely is absolutely a required step. However, remote work has security vulnerabilities that should be addressed before allowing anyone to work from home - whether permanent remote workers or those who work from home only a few hours each month. Only by successfully responding to this challenge will you be able to completely seize this opportunity to boost talent retention, productivity, and work-life balance for your employees.
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