Without a doubt, employees are your business’s number one asset. But, whether you realize it or not, they’re also your biggest vulnerability when it comes to cyber security—especially in our post-COVID era. This serves to make cyber security work-from-home expertise that much more critical.
While cybersecurity risks have always been difficult to mitigate, the distributed nature of the work-from-home model has made it exponentially more complex. Now that the office has migrated to living rooms, coffee shops, and shared workspaces across the globe, it should come as little surprise that cyber criminals have been busier than ever—a whopping 600% busier since the beginning of the pandemic, in fact.
But there’s hope. Let’s cover the 5 best remote work security tips of 2021 to ensure that your company data remains safe and secure.
1. Know Your Enemy
Below, we discuss five of these enemies that you should become intimately familiar with. While other threats do exist, these five broad categories comprise the majority of cyber security remote work risks in 2021.
Social Engineering Attacks
There are plenty of sophisticated phishing scams your remote workforces ought to be wary of.
Because this class of cyber threat depends upon human manipulation, they’re more broadly referred to as social engineering attacks. Social engineering attacks are often best countered by a comprehensive remote work security policy that is thoroughly understood by employees.
Below we’ll discuss two that are often directed at unwitting employees.
1. Phishing Emails
A malicious party will contact an employee through their work email posing as a legitimate organization or recognized brand.
These bad actors will include a clickable or downloadable link in the email, containing malware that either steals sensitive information or installs malicious code.
2. Spear Phishing
Instead of casting a broad net, these types of attacks depend upon human interaction and psychological manipulation of a specific person or persons.
The cyber criminal will typically pose as a colleague, senior staff member, or relevant organization. They’ll then request sensitive information, such as login credentials, bank account numbers, or some other variety of private data. Occasionally, they’ll even establish a “real” relationship with their victim beforehand.
Access to a Physical Device
The most rudimentary of all methods, access to an employee’s physical device nevertheless remains a serious threat, particularly if the employee works outside of their home. These dangers entail anything from outright theft to discreet tampering.
Employees should be taught that it is never safe to leave their device unattended in a public place, such as a coffee shop, food court, or even shared workspace. If an employee deals with especially sensitive information, they should be instructed to only work from a secured home network.
This year, it’s predicted that ransomware attacks will cost a staggering $6 billion worldwide. That’s more than the annual GDP of Barbados.
But what is ransomware, exactly? Ransomware is a specific type of malware that allows cyber criminals to control access to your data and devices. This means you’ll be locked out until you’ve paid the sum demanded by the ransomers.
Cyber criminals can easily manipulate traffic on a hacked mobile device. This gives them the ability to insert their own devious traffic to trick users into exposing company credentials, like usernames and passwords.
With this login information, hackers can set about stealing, altering, deleting, or ransoming company information.
Dangers of Public Wifi
One of the greatest cyber threats posed by working in a public space is the wifi connection. There are two typical avenues of attack.
Hackers can use unsecured—or minimally secured—networks to monitor your screen. This requires relatively few tools to accomplish.
If successful, they’ll be able to record your online activity in real-time and steal any information you make visible. By employing a keylogger, even masked passwords can be deciphered.
2. Wireless Hijacking
This second method is more insidious. Hackers can create fake wireless hotspots with legitimate sounding names. These are considered honeypots and are often deployed in high-traffic areas.
Connecting to this type of “network” grants hackers backdoor access to your private information—from photos and videos, to browsing data and login credentials.
2. Secure Remote Work Devices
Remote workers should never use their personal devices to perform work-related tasks. Allowing them to do so makes it almost impossible to enforce a computer security remote work strategy. In fact, what you may not realize is that even a home printer is a gateway for hackers.
That’s why it’s so important to use company devices to work remote; network security simply begins with good planning. Here are a few ways to ensure your devices are sound.
When signing in to company accounts, users must present two or more pieces of evidence to verify their identity. The three classes of evidence are:
As the most common evidence category, knowledge authentication includes things like passwords and security questions. Unfortunately, this is also the most hackable category.
This can range from a hardware key to a third-party authenticator (TPA). TPAs, like Google Authenticator, generate a random and ever-changing PIN that users must input.
Inherence refers to a quality or characteristic unique to the user, such as fingerprint, eye colour, or face.
Keep It Updated
The sad reality is that many businesses often let their network security and information security become outdated. Always keep your devices and applications up-to-date—from operating systems to security software.
Never Leave Wifi or Bluetooth On
As we’ve previously seen, wifi connections make an excellent port of entry for hackers. When not in use, it’s a good habit to shut off any wifi and bluetooth connections on your devices.
3. Protect Sensitive Information
Protecting your company data should be your top priority. Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your organization’s private data remains private.
Not every employee requires access to every application. Limit the number of people authorized to access certain information to those who need it for their particular job.
As a crucial cyber security work-from-home policy, this also has the benefit of providing more accountability among employees.
If a hacker manages to get passed every stage of authentication, you want to be sure your data is encrypted. Converting plaintext to encoded text offers a last line of defense against thieves.
You can also force browser encryption by restricting work devices to websites that have an HTTPS extension, as opposed to HTTP. HTTPS sites use secure encryption algorithms that keep your credentials safe, even from screen watchers.
Ready to Learn More?
- Back-up Your Info
By implementing redundancies like external hard drives and cloud storage, you’re not only preventing deliberate data breaches, you’re also ensuring the data’s safety in the event of lost or corrupted files/hardware.
4. Implement and Update Security Tools
You can be the most cautious person in the world, but if you don’t have the right tools in place, you’re a sitting duck for a data breach. Here are some of the most fundamental measures you can use to protect your company data.
- Application Whitelisting
In order to control which applications are trusted on company devices, your business can create an application whitelist. This list allows trusted applications to run and prevents unauthorized applications from being opened or installed.
- Anti-virus Software
Ensure that all work devices are equipped with up-to-date anti-virus software. This goes a long way in preventing, detecting, and eliminating harmful malware.
- Network Firewalls
It’s important to monitor all incoming and outgoing network traffic. The best way to do this is by means of a firewall, which places a barrier between your intranet (private network) and the internet (public network).
- Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Before connecting from a remote workstation to access company servers, it’s essential to have a VPN. VPNs allow employees to securely connect to your organization’s private network, even while crossing an untrusted public network. VPNs encrypt data and require authentication to use.
5. Training Employees for a Remote Work Environment
This tip is all about ensuring your employees follow information security remote work best practices in 2021.
As a business owner or manager, you want to ensure that your employees are familiar with the most common remote work from home cyber security concerns and how to face them.
Though many remote work security threats sneak in through software applications and hardware components, social engineering attacks depend largely on human psychology. Equipping your remote workers with the right knowledge gives them the ability to detect early threats and not fall victim to data breaches.
Need Advice on Remote Work Network Security?
Devising, implementing, and updating your business’ remote work IT security can be a challenge. If you’re ready to step up your remote work information security in 2021, Accudata Systems, a Converge Company can help.
Contact us today. Our trusted professionals can provide you with a free firewall audit and online security assessment. Get top-tier cyber security for remote work.
Benefit from industry-leading remote work security best practices and get peace of mind that your business is safe from online attacks.