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Strategies to Mitigate Work-From-Home Risk

The dispersed workplace creates new kinds of cyber threats, and many organizations face urgent cybersecurity challenges. The rise in remote and hybrid work environments brought about by the pandemic was estimated by Gartner to include 51% of global workers at the end of this past year. And the prevalence of Work From Home (WFH) will almost certainly continue.

A recent Gallup poll showed that just 6% of U.S. workers said they would like to return to working fully on-site, with the vast majority stating a preference to either remain fully remote (49%) or have a hybrid arrangement (45%). WFH, Gallup reported confidently, is “trending permanent.”

According to a study published on Digital Information World, 58.3% of those surveyed said the pandemic increased their use of personal devices for work. This practice is one reason employees working from home are more prone to cyber threats, and cyberattacks have skyrocketed.

People working in their kitchen or guest-bedroom offices sometimes forget to take appropriate cybersecurity measures, and are therefore much more susceptible to cyberattacks. With this proliferation of vulnerable endpoints, how does a company continue to protect its employees, users, applications, and critical data? The ultimate solution is endpoint protection services—also known as Endpoint Protection as a Service—EPaaS.)

But what about the big picture? What are the best practices required to maintain a secure remote workforce now that WFH is practically ubiquitous?

Here are some of the primary cybersecurity risks faced by your employees who work from home, as well as some basic requirements to ensure your safety and security at work.

Phishing, Malware, and Ransomware Attacks

An office environment sends a person a subconscious signal to be more careful. Again, in a home environment, members of your team are significantly less likely to be as vigilant about opening an email on their own devices.

That one click on a subject-line crafted by a sophisticated cybercriminal on a phishing expedition can place malware into your corporate environment. And that is why, in the era of WFH, ransomware attacks have increased exponentially.

Remember, each of your employees’ desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets are now communicating back and forth with your organization’s network, and each of these endpoints need to be protected.

Remote Access and Data Leakage

Remote access, the functionality that allows your organization’s IT team to reach inside your employees’ machines and allows remote workers to perform necessary tasks, can also create an open door for cybercriminals looking to hack into your network.

If your business’s network contains information about clients or customers, credit card numbers, or other sensitive data, you must, of course, make sure that your computer systems are not vulnerable to cyberattack.

If you do not have a robust team of cybersecurity experts on staff to give you 100% certainty that your data is safe, you can contract with a cybersecurity firm to provide managed detection and response services. Threat hunting today involves experienced cybersecurity professionals aided by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

Safe-At-Home Training

Even before Work from Home, untrained employees have always been the weakest link in the firewall around your IT systems. Today, as people access multiple sites and multiple clouds via numerous devices and apps, it’s essential that they be trained to recognize and avoid cyber threats.

Cybercriminals are well aware that your workforce is dispersed, and they have developed sophisticated methods of attack to exploit the “human risk factor.” Cybersecurity Awareness Training can equip your team to serve as your first line of defense against a distracting episode or a disastrous attack.

Vulnerable Wireless Networks

Of course, to avoid cyberattack, it is best to stick to secured wireless networks with measures in place to automatically recognize and repel any invasion. And yet, it’s very possible that your employee is sharing Wi-Fi with a spouse or roommate. And we know people are using public Wi-Fi at the airport, hotel or coffee shop.

Public Wi-Fi networks are unsecured and can allow hackers to capture passwords, monitor web browsing, steal data, and infect devices with malicious software. With a ploy known as a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack, a cybercriminal within the reception range of an unencrypted Wi-Fi access point can insert themselves into any conversation or web session, stealing information, presenting fake websites that deliver malware, and otherwise wreaking havoc.

Your team can protect themselves when using public Wi-Fi by running antivirus and anti-malware software; never creating files that are shared with “Everyone;” and running a software-based firewall on their devices. And again: Cybersecurity training is crucial.

Thank you for trusting us to help with your cybersecurity and remote workforce needs.

Contact us any time—we’re always happy to help. 


Meet the Author
Jon Bolden is Quest's Certified Information Systems Security Officer
Contact Quest Today  ˄
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