Remote work is a way of life for many businesses across the globe. The opportunity to see productivity and workforce satisfaction increase encouraged many employers to keep either partial or fully remote workforces. However, the drastic shift towards remote work left many companies with IT infrastructures that weren’t built to handle work from home security and business data privacy. According to the <a href="https://www.ic3.gov/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">FBI</a>, cybercrimes have increased by 300 percent since the beginning of the pandemic! This article will explore the most common cybercrimes businesses encounter due to remote workforces and how to properly implement data security protocols to ward of cyberattacks.
#1 Social Engineering:
A study by the <a href="https://www.ponemon.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Ponemon Institute</a> concluded that cybersecurity prevention measures can save businesses up to $1.4 million per attack! But what exactly is social engineering and how does it affect your remote workforce?
Social engineering is tricky because it can be performed both in person and via digital strategies. This form of cyberthreat is the extraction of critical information or breach of security through psychological manipulation. This threat could appear as harmless as a conversation at a coffee shop or a hacker posing as a potential client.
Just like a conversation with an employee can compromise your data security, it can also protect it. By hosting workforce training, you can reduce the likelihood of human error and help your employees spot warning signs of potential social engineering attempts. As an extra layer of protection, you should also establish the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to act as a gateway extending your private network across a public one. This keeps malicious activity that could threaten private information security isolated at the source.
#2 Cloud-Based Vulnerabilities:
In Q2 2020 alone, <a href="https://www.mcafee.com/enterprise/en-us/assets/reports/rp-quarterly-threats-nov-2020.pdf">McAfee</a> reported seeing a steep 7.5 million external attacks on cloud accounts, a growth of over 250 percent from 2019. These attacks especially targeted cloud servers that weren’t password protected. While motivations once the cloud security was breached vary between ransomware, brute-force entry, DDoS attacks and more, the results are all ones to avoid! With businesses utilizing cloud-based systems more with remote workforces, this is an area of work from home security that oftentimes needs attention.
As the vulnerability above illustrated, simply adding a unique, random character password that changes regularly can be enough to halt many attacks on data security. Finding cloud-based systems that provide extra layers of data security can also protect your data privacy. An additional measure you can take with remote employees is requesting cloud collaboration tools only be accessed on secure, company-based devices and that all files are securely stored in the cloud system. You should also work with an IT expert to ensure regular updates are being maintained on all software and technology, as unpatched technology leaves a door open for hackers to enter otherwise secure systems. By taking these steps, your cloud system’s security will be far more reliable.
#3 Ransomware and Malware:
For 2021, <a href="https://cybersecurityventures.com/cybercrime-damages-6-trillion-by-2021/#:~:text=A%202017%20report%20from%20Cybersecurity,increase%20in%20just%20two%20years.&text=We%20predict%20there%20will%20be,every%2040%20seconds%20in%202016." target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cybersecurity Ventures</a> predicts that businesses will be attacked with ransomware every 11 seconds. Even worse, a study by the Ponemon Institute calculated out that the average cost for a business to clean up the aftermath of a cybersecurity breach to be approximate $690,000 per small business, and over $1 million for middle-market companies! With your private information security and ROI on the line, it’s critical to bolster work from home security to prevent these costly attacks to your profit, brand reputation and data privacy.
There are a few strategies you can implement in unison to provide your business with 360-degree protection from ransomware and malware threats. The first strategy is the provision of company-owned devices rather than allowing employees to use personal devices. This allows you to control the security measures in place and monitor access points from potential hackers. Another strategy is the use of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) plans. When an IT expert is consulted, a DLP is a robust defensive plan that can tighten preventative security measures, backup valuable data, isolate potential attacks from the main network and react swiftly to active threats and data breaches. These plans should be disseminated to all employees so that everyone is on the same page regarding appropriate digital behavior, potential risks and how to react if they see something suspicious occurs or arises.
#4 Password Attacks
This is a simple vulnerability that many businesses can potentially overlook. If you reflect on your own password usage, odds are you use a specific set of passwords that you’ll remember across many of your digital accounts. This could be your social media passwords, subscriptions, billing accounts and workplace device passwords. However, this is a worst-case scenario for businesses if an employee’s personal account information becomes compromised. This can create an entryway into your business’s secure network, servers and data that can wreak havoc before anyone realizes it’s happening.
Luckily, as easy as it is to overlook, it’s a quick fix. Establish security protocols surrounding passwords, like random character strings, the use of varied symbols, letters and numbers, a set timeframe that all passwords are required to be updated and the prevention of using old passwords for account access. If you want to take your security to the next level, you can also require things like multi-factor authentication and session locking mechanisms. These will aid in detecting suspicious traffic and activity within your network and deter hackers from infiltrating your system.
Coupled with a vigilant team, data loss prevention (DLP) strategies are measures that can be set in place to preserve your data in the event of a natural or manmade disaster striking. These plans work to prioritize data, learn risks, closely monitor data movement and ensure that backups are regularly implemented to swiftly restore order back to your business.
#5 Business Email Compromise:
Business Email Compromise (BEC) comes cloaked in various forms. BEC could be executed through phishing attempts, spoof domains, malware or many other hacker strategies, all with the intent to obtain entry into secure networks, money or private data. And with remote employees, they can be targeted in calculated ways that many aren’t expecting. In fact, IBM noted across their studies that human error is the leading cause of 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches and the average time businesses took to identify data breaches was 207 days! Once the hacker enters a secure network, they can do anything from establishing wire fraud, SQL injection, DDoS attacks, session hijacking and more! This information should be startling, considering Cisco predicts that DDoS attacks alone are estimated to reach <a href="https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/executive-perspectives/annual-internet-report/white-paper-c11-741490.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">15.4 million</a> by 2023!
External network security with remote access to secure, cloud-based tools and VPNs should be staples in a business’s work from home security strategy. Also, employees should be instructed on vigilance and precautionary measures when using public networks, such as coffee shops or co-workspaces. The ability to isolate a hacker’s breach to a single device allows your business to respond quicker to the threat! Another action step you can take to improve data security, especially if your employees are required to travel, is mobile device protection. This, again, can be done either by the provision of the device or by crafting a mobile device management solution that can take control of any lost or stolen devices.
Preventative Measure for Work From Home Security Success
While this information seems straightforward, it can be challenging to implement and maintain for businesses. Bringing on a team of technology experts whose sole focus is to provide exceptional managed IT services, 24/7/365 support and innovative thought leadership can remove the stress and worry from your digital security implementation. Many of our clients enjoy the luxury of being able to focus on the success and growth of their businesses, knowing that we are standing behind them as their partner against cyberthreats.