WFH and Cybersecurity: The 2020 IT dilemma
The situation of COVID-19 is worsened. Companies, more than ever, are forced to enforce work-from-home methodology to maintain the business operations. However, many employees have never worked remotely and do not know the basics of digital security that can increase risks of cyber espionage.
As we find ourselves in troubling times due to the rise of coronavirus (COVID-19), every aspect of our lives is being disturbed. From world economies to our daily basis lifestyle routines and operations, everything is impacted negatively from this pandemic. While there are global lock-downs in place in almost every region and country, people all over the world are taking cautions like social distancing and staying at home to avoid the risk of being exposed to this new found disease. Companies and organizations from SME’s (small-medium-enterprises) to established conglomerates all are struggling to keep their routine operations running to keep the revenue levels balanced. But, unfortunately, all companies nowadays are re-thinking their business strategies to adopt the current situation.
A number of companies and start-ups are already on the verge of bankruptcy due to the high level of sales decline. While the majority of companies are offering high discounts on their products and services just so that they could weather out this storm of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and stay in the business.
Due to the wide-spread fear of the disease, government of all countries have advised their nations and citizens to stay isolated in their homes as this disease has caused a global health crisis. All the businesses and companies are closed as per the state requirements. As a result, companies world-wide are encouraging their employees to work remotely from homes. It was deemed a blessing to be able to work remotely until this novel disease disrupted the globe. Now hundreds, if not millions, of people everywhere are working from home due to coronavirus fears. While independent routines, comfortable environment, more time with friends or family can sound good, the risks of privacy and data security of those working from home can be another real danger to fear.
How working home is impacting the organizational-cybersecurity?
It is not always rainbow and roses. While remote-working provide a range of benefits to employees and employers, it also raises a number of cybersecurity concerns. Cybercriminals are known and exist for their ingenious schemes and attack-vectors.
Cyber-hackers have taken advantage of the fact that now, more than ever, people are working-from-home. Meaning, more people are using their IoT-devices and internet that ultimately means a wider-target audience for digital-hackers to victimize.
As compared to employees working in an office, there is always the support of a team who can assist immediately in case of a cyber incident or a breach. But as employees are working remotely, the response to a cyber incident can be very limited as this approach lacks the ability to work as a team in the true sense. As digital teams can only perform limited functions and operations that can make troubleshooting situation a nightmare.
E-criminals see an opportunity in the COVID-19 crisis because of the fact that cyberspace-experts have revealed that major company’s executives believe that their remote workers increase the chances of a cyber-attack/breach by as high as 86%. The legitimacy of this concern can be expressed by an alarming fact released by FBI that there has been a whopping increase of 300% in cyber-crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only majority of businesses mostly related to tech are offering their employees the luxury to work remotely, but education sector has also taken precautionary measures as universities and colleges/schools are closed and students are required to attend online classes. However, there are many issues for the employees who are working remotely and also the students who are attending online classes. Here are some of the major issues facing this world’s biggest “work from home” experiment.
Employers / Companies are not prepared
This was nothing but a shock to researchers and medical experts working in WHO (World Health Organization) and other international disease control organizations, how rapidly this disease was spreading. This rapid enhancement of this pandemic did not allow the companies to develop a counter plan or a work from home plan. As a result, companies are poorly equipped with secure remote-work procedure and policies in terms of employee’s data or privacy safety.
Employees have no proper training
It’s very common for companies to not provide in house cybersecurity awareness training programs to their employees under normal circumstances. That’s a very big reason why employees do not even know the basics of personal data and security protection like using VPN and anti-viruses software and practising secure computing.
Do you know that studies have pointed out that more than 95% of cyberattacks happen successfully due to an employee/human mistake? Employees are the most crucial asset to any organization and at the same time employees are also one of the biggest security vulnerabilities of any organization. Poorly trained or unskilled employees in the IT sector can pose the biggest threat to the security of an organization. There have been a number of cases where employees open phishing emails and install malware in organizational systems without knowing about it as they fall victim to scams of hackers.
Hackers now have wider audience to target
It is a favorite time for hacker and cybercrime groups due to a very high amount of people using online resources to communicate, work, or attend classes online. In recent endeavors, hackers have successfully exploited data of millions of users by compromising the online conference platform “Zoom”. And due to low workforce ratios, the majority of organizations and companies have become vulnerable to attacks. And the rising amounts of cyber-attacks have made it clear that the importance of self-privacy and information is crucial.
These were nothing but some of the main issues that work from home employees can face in terms of digital wellbeing. There is an urgent need for people to become more aware of cyber-risks and learn their countermeasures in order to work safely from home. Below are the quick tips that ensure your digital safety.
Tip 1: Use a secure VPN
There are many VPN solutions that can make a person a virtual “ghost” when it comes to digital protection. We’ve got the perfect solution that can add an additional layer of security for your work from home employees.
Tip 2: Pay attention to employees’ network-security
Some workers may want to enjoy a free internet connection of their neighbors or any public place that can sometimes be unsecured or may have weak security. That’s always inadvisable for employees and employers should discourage it. As remote workers, employees will use their personal Wi-Fi networks. But they should make sure it is set up securely with a strong password.
You should always guide your remote employees to check the authenticity and security of the Wi-Fi network before using it.
Tip 3: Develop a Remote Work Policy
Your organization should develop a remote work policy that will help your employees to know how they should work from home while also protecting organizational data and their own digital wellbeing from digital hackers. These security policies will also inform certain employees to carry out particular tasks and your expectations from them. It is also imperative that you should update these cybersecurity policies on a regular basis so the latest cybersecurity risks can be addressed properly to make all the employees aware of these threats.
Tip 4: Educate your employees on phishing
Perhaps the greatest threat to any organization arises of phishing. As 90% of successful cyber-espionage happens due to some kind of a phishing attack. Whether the untargeted number of fake coronavirus updates that give ransomware or spear-phishing attacks intending to lean off Business E-mail Compromise (BEC) scams, the risk is notable. Remote workers should be trained by the company to spot irregular emails and query them.
Without any doubt, the best way to increase organizational cybersecurity while employees are working from home is through IT/OT security awareness training. This teaches your employees to learn how to identify and avoid cybersecurity risks while working from home. As the situation of COVID-19 is still not under control, cyber-criminals will not stop with their immoral agendas. Therefore, the best way to defeat cyber-hackers is to learn to protect your own digital wellbeing.
If you would like assistance with any aspects outlined in this article, we advise you to contact us to find out how we can help.
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