In 2020 and 2021, companies across the country were thrown into the world of remote work and the cybersecurity concerns that go with it. We have begun to slowly emerge from the chaos that accompanied those years, but remote work has not gone away. An estimated 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025, as professionals and businesses alike have begun to recognize the advantages of this work arrangement. However, only about 1 in 5 companies are fully confident that their infrastructure security can support long-term remote work.
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While the transition to remote work might have been a bit chaotic and haphazard, now is the chance to slow down and make sure you have the right systems and security in place to support your business and employees. Here is what you need to understand about the dangers facing your business and what you can do to better protect your network and prepare your employees.
Risks of Long-Term Remote Work on Your Data Security
Long-term remote work poses threats for businesses that you need to understand. Here are 5 considerations to think about with remote workers.
1. Secure use of personal devices
With employees working remotely, BYOD (bring your own device) has become particularly popular. However, when people use their own devices, these devices might lack vital software patches and updates. The business is no longer in charge of maintaining the technology and ensuring all of the latest updates, which can leave the devices more vulnerable.
Many patches target weaknesses, fixing potential access points for hackers. Companies need to make sure their employees are educated about the importance of keeping all mobile items safe with regular security updates on both their personal devices and devices that the company owns.
Another potential weakness lies in passwords and security on these personal devices. Employees using weak passwords to protect their devices and their networks can create additional vulnerabilities. You need to work with your employees to make sure they understand the value of high-quality passwords and how to create them.
How much risk is acceptable?
2. What devices and programs are workers using to connect to your network?
Shadow IT has also emerged as a prominent concern with remote work. With shadow IT, professionals use IT systems, devices, and applications without receiving clear IT approval. We have seen the problem multiply as cloud-based applications have grown in popularity.
Many employees report that they move towards their own IT because they feel dissatisfied with the options provided by their workplace. One survey found that 61% of employees do not feel content with the technology offered by their company. They say that the tools provided are often “buggy” or otherwise cannot be relied upon. However, when employees use technology without running it by the IT department first, it can create tremendous openings for hackers.
IT departments also have trouble providing IT support for those at home. More than a third of IT managers report challenges in helping employees solve IT problems remotely. Employees outside of the IT departments have also noticed problems, with nearly a quarter saying that they have found it challenging to get their IT issues properly resolved.
If you want to give your employees the tools they need to do their jobs well, you need to make sure you balance utility with integration and convenience. We offer assessments that will help you better understand the state of your IT usage, where your weaknesses are, and what you can do to boost cybersecurity without sacrificing utility.
3. Your team is more vulnerable to phishing attacks on mobile devices
The prevalence of mobile devices with remote work also creates unique risks. Mobile devices can be more vulnerable to phishing attacks, because the smaller screens can make it more challenging to spot signs of phishing when opening messages. Users have fewer opportunities to double-check that the links in a message they receive are legitimate, which can increase the risk of people just clicking on the link.
Many hackers know that mobile devices do not have the same level of security as a computer. So many of these criminals have decided to focus on mobile devices for their phishing attacks. They create messages and emails that align well with the content and context that the victim expects to receive. The hackers then create a login page that closely mimics what the recipient will expect to see. As soon as the employee enters their credentials, that valuable information is stolen.
To fight against this threat, businesses must make sure that they provide cybersecurity awareness training. Employees should know what to look for to spot phishing attacks. You want them to know common tricks that criminals will use so that you reduce the chances of them clicking on a suspicious link.
4. Home networks are riskier
With employees working from home, it is also important to recognize the vulnerabilities of home networks themselves. The traffic between your remote employees and the business network they access can be intercepted, and even potentially modified by hackers, if it is not properly protected. The internet access of many professionals does not pass through the on-site security solutions that the business would use to better protect networks from malware.
Moving all or even most of your employees to remote work creates security challenges that need to be planned for. You need to know what risks you face and how you will address them. Using basic security controls for remote work, such as VPN and strong user authentication, can help ensure productivity while also maintaining security.
For businesses to effectively use remote work, you need to make sure that the endpoint is secure while also offering high-speed applications.
5. It’s easier for your workforce to suffer productivity losses
As a business, it’s important to balance the demands of productivity with your security needs. Some businesses find themselves falling into the error of creating such stringent security procedures that it hinders the ability of their employees to do their jobs. This can hamper business growth and even encourage employees to circumvent some of your procedures for convenience.
Therefore, you want to make sure you work with an IT service provider who can help you build strong security procedures while also attending to the needs of your business. We can help you secure your network without making things unduly difficult for your remote employees.
The right remote work tools can keep your team secure and productive.
Deerwood Technologies Can Help You Secure Remote Workers
Making the move from in-person work to remote work can feel like a stressful, overwhelming transition. You want a trusted partner who is ready to help and can provide you with the support you need. At Deerwood Technologies, we are here to help you make a secure, effective transition. Let us know how we can help.