Why Is Remote Work a Cybersecurity Risk?

Remote work has taken the professional world by storm since 2020, causing no end of discussion among business leaders from multinational enterprises to small local businesses. In the IT world, we’ve been focused on what this means for cybersecurity. Is remote work a cybersecurity risk? Unfortunately, that answer is most likely “yes” for most organizations. 

Increased Cybersecurity Risks for Remote Workers 

Cybersecurity is important to every business as hackers turn away from the iron fortresses of huge enterprises and target smaller businesses. Unfortunately, these cybercriminals are finding new ways to weasel their way into your data with the remote working boom.

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Here are 5 high-risk concerns cybersecurity experts are watching for remote or semi-remote companies. 

1. More Attack Surfaces 

As organizations work from decentralized spaces, the number of devices and applications needed to support their employees has grown, creating more “attack surfaces” for hackers. Simply put, data thieves have more potential for a successful attack. 

2. Lack of Security Staff 

Increased attack surfaces wouldn’t be so problematic if there were enough security technicians to monitor them. However, staffing issues in the cybersecurity industry have led to a serious gap in the workforce. With fewer eyes on networks, hackers have an easier time getting past defenses. 

3. Using Personal and Public Networks 

An employee’s home network is configured differently than a commercial network offered by the same internet service provider. Furthermore, the employee may be using older modems, routers, and switches in their home, or have not updated their firmware in years. These risks are amplified if the employee spends some time working from a public network, like a coffee shop. 

4. Using Personal Devices 

Using your own device to access business systems creates a litany of cybersecurity risks for remote workers. Most commonly, the devices are simply not on the organization’s radar and aren’t watched by cybersecurity experts. The employee is also likely to use these devices for personal business and entertainment, opening lots of doors for the device to be infected with malicious software. 

5. Weak Physical Security Controls 

Cybersecurity isn’t just all 1s and 0s. If your organization’s on-site physical security is lacking, data thieves can get their hands on something in “meatspace” that lets them get to what they want. This could be a keycard left on a desk or an unlocked phone that has everything the hacker needs to get past multi-factor authentication systems.

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Update Your Cybersecurity Training Programs and Policies 

So, how do you secure your business against the cybersecurity risks of remote workers? It looks like remote work isn’t going anywhere anytime soon for many industries, so adapting to the changing work environment is your best bet. 

Start with creating a cybersecurity training program that considers the risks of remote workers. For many organizations the weakest link in their cybersecurity controls are the humans at the other end of the screen. Addressing this weakness with up-to-date training is like installing the newest update to your antivirus software. 

Next, sit down with leadership across the organization and take a deep dive into IT policy. What is your stance on employees using their own devices? Are the risks worth the benefits? How do employees secure their hardware when not at work? Which systems should they only access from the company’s networks? Should you invest in a virtual private network (VPN) for remote workers? 

Partner with IT Experts to Navigate the Cybersecurity Risks of Remote Work  

Tackling these issues can be a big task for business leaders, especially those guiding small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Typically, those SMBs only employee a few IT generalists who may not have the training and experience needed to address remote work cybersecurity. 

That’s where a partner with decades of experience can help. A managed services provider like NetGain Technologies is all-in on IT investment and employs expert security engineers ready to meet today’s changing work environments. We can help set up a training program and perform vulnerability scans on your network that help us create unique solutions for your organization.  

You can reach out to us to start a conversation addressing these issues.

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