Cybersecurity and a Remote Workforce: What Does the Future Look Like?
Looking at the current and future ideas of how and where we work, it’s evident that much is changing. Being in one physical space with peers isn’t necessary to communicate and collaborate. While remote work got a boost in adoption due to COVID-19, remote work will continue post-pandemic. However, concern still lingers in the minds of businesses — cybersecurity and remote work.
The Transition to a Mobile Workforce
Before the pandemic, remote work was already a popular way to provide a more flexible experience for employees. The growth in remote work was 44 percent in the last five years. That’s significant growth, but many employers had hesitations and concerns. Would a remote team be productive? Would they be able to collaborate? And what about security?
Whatever barriers keeping some companies from offering remote work fell when it became evident, they needed to protect their employees’ health. Although these companies made the shift, they are still catching up and addressing new cybersecurity and remote work challenges. The most worrisome is converting a cybersecurity framework from a central network and retooling it to fit a distributed work model. There are now more endpoints for hackers to penetrate.
If this is what you are currently facing, here are some ideas about navigating through hurdles and best practices.
Cybersecurity Needs to ‘Catch Up’ to Protect Remote Workers
Transitioning a workforce from a central location to many brings about all kinds of remote work cybersecurity challenges. It’s also attractive to threat actors. According to one study, 46 percent of global businesses endured at least one cybersecurity incident since moving to remote work.
Those scares occurred because there were security gaps, so to “catch up” and not be on a hacker’s radar, your organization needs to revisit security practices and invest in new solutions.
Building a Robust Cybersecurity Plan for a Remote Workforce
To develop the best defense for cybersecurity threats, you should focus on these areas:
When your employees are on one network, your IT team can easily watch network traffic and use a host of approaches to thwart attacks. Now, you’re dealing with hundreds or even thousands of networks.
The onus of keeping a network secure is solely on the employee, who more than likely isn’t being vigilant as you’d like. Many organizations are continuing to use VPNs (virtual private networks) to allow users to join enterprise networks. But this is just a band-aid that’s not really sustainable long-term.
The alternative is to focus on device security. There’s no way to control the Wi-Fi at each employee’s house. The better approach is to develop security infrastructures that support devices with MDM (mobile device management) solutions. IT can then have visibility at the device level and enforce multi-factor authentication, update malware programs, and install software patches.
Secure File Storage and Sharing
If your organization isn’t using a secure cloud-based solution for storage and sharing of files, it will be hard for them to work together. There are many options, and companies big and small often just use Google Drive.
However, there are lots of downsides to using such a platform. You don’t own it or control it, so it’s hard to manage the security aspect. Instead, find a solution that not only provides accessibility to employees no matter where they are but also has layers of cybersecurity protections so that you can have peace of mind that your business and customer data is safe.
Your employees are probably using a variety of devices at home and logging into web-based applications necessary to carry out their roles. This trend has led to the deterioration of perimeter-based security. This challenge isn’t new — it’s just more complex now.
The problem is that most of the time, users achieve access through a password only. To strengthen the right of access, you should use two-factor authorization and/or multiple ways to verify that the user is who she says she is.
Concentrating efforts on verifying access by more than just a user name and password hinders the hacking practice of spoofing user credentials.
Keeping Employees Alert
The weakest link in your cybersecurity plan is typically users. Much of the time, users don’t make these mistakes purposefully. Those orchestrating phishing attempts are using more sophisticated methods, like social engineering. Plus, there’s been a huge wave of COVID-related phishing scams, which plays on people’s fears.
The best thing you can do is to establish regular cybersecurity training for your employees. You should also keep them up to date on new scams, especially those impacting your industry. Use an IM channel for cybersecurity updates that all employees see.
Empowering your team to be part of the cybersecurity solution will make them more alert and cautious of clicking a suspicious link.
Do You Have a Cybersecurity Risk Management Program?
Remote work didn’t create cybersecurity challenges. It is, however, creating new ones and exposing gaps. Every organization, no matter the size or industry, should have a cybersecurity risk management program.
Often, such a program is hard to develop and implement because internal teams lack the knowledge or bandwidth. That’s why so many companies turn to trusted experts in the space. With such a plan, you’ll have a continuous, proactive approach to data security, without the burden of it creating it and sustaining it.
As remote work and cybersecurity become more intertwined, it’s time to revisit your cybersecurity goals and challenges. Let our team of professionals help. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions.