Risks of Not Securing your Devices When Working Remotely
Remote work has now become a common practice among organizations all over the world.
While remote work offers tremendous benefits to both employees and organizations such as better flexibility, increased productivity, and work-life balance, it has its downsides too.
Security risks, for example, are the biggest and most important downside of remote work in today’s era.
According to a World Economic Forum report, remote work during COVID-19 Pandemic drove a whopping 238% increase in cyber attacks.
This is because when you neglect to secure work devices when working remotely, it can instantly expose your organization to various types of cyber attacks.
To help you understand this in more detail, we’re going to discuss how remote work can affect the security of your organization.
Afterward, we will review seven critical security risks of not securing your work devices when working remotely.
How does Remote Work Increase Security Risks?
A remote work environment in an organization can raise the risk of data breaches and other cyber attacks significantly.
When you’ve remote workers at a large scale, it can grow the potential attack surface in your organization exponentially.
For example, when your employees work remotely, it can become difficult to monitor their activities and ensure that they’re complying with mandatory security protocols.
This, in turn, can often lead to a security breach or compromise, either intentionally or accidentally.
Apart from this, remote workers often use their personal devices to access your organization's network and sensitive information. This can increase security risks significantly if their devices are not properly secured or infected with malware.
The worst part? — Many remote workers often use public Wi-Fi to access the internet. But such public networks can be easily intercepted by cybercriminals and result in a cyber attack.
While these are just a few examples, we will talk about seven such critical security risks of remote working to help you better understand the importance of securing devices when working remotely.
7 Critical Security Risks of Remote Working
Security risks associated with remote work are many, from growing the attack surface to sensitive data compromise & phishing as well as ransomware attacks.
Below, we’ve shared the 7 most critical security risks of remote work you must know about.
1 - Undersecured & Vulnerable Hardware
Hardware vulnerability is a rising security risk that can directly affect an organization’s network and result in serious consequences.
One of the primary causes of hardware vulnerability is the sudden shift to remote work. When an organization’s employees shift to remote work, they don’t necessarily pack their entire office and bring home their work systems.
Instead, most employees use their personal devices to do their jobs when working remotely. But in doing so, they don’t always ensure that their personal devices are properly updated and secured from cyberattacks, which makes these hardware devices vulnerable.
And as you might have already guessed, cybercriminals can easily expose such unsecured personal devices and introduce malware into hardware, which ultimately results in compromised passwords, data breaches, and more.
2 - Poor Data Practices & Procedures
Poor data practices and procedures in an organization refer to the ineffective or inadequate methods used to collect, process, and protect sensitive information.
From a security standpoint, having poor data practices and procedures in your organization can lead to increased security risks that could make it easier for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information.
This, in turn, can result in data breaches, identity theft, financial fraud, and ransomware attacks, leading to a loss of reputation and legal liabilities for your organization.
To mitigate these security risks, your organization must implement modern & robust data practices and procedures that prioritize security by keeping your security software up-to-date.
3 - Grows Attack Surface
Today, organizations allow a significant number of their employees to work remotely.
But when you allow more employees to work remotely, it can increase the number of software, devices, and endpoints to secure, which can grow your organization’s attack surface exponentially.
This is because when employees work remotely, they often use their personal devices to access the organization's resources, which can increase security risks if those devices are not adequately secured.
To mitigate the risk of a growing attack surface, organizations must adopt a comprehensive cybersecurity solution like CAASM to reduce attack surface vulnerabilities and prevent cyber attacks.
4 - Unencrypted File Sharing
In today’s fast-paced world, remote employees share so much sensitive information on a daily basis that securing them during transit is extremely critical. Failing to do so can easily expose your organization’s network to cyberattacks.
Despite this, most organizations only encrypt important files and data saved on their internal network, while neglecting to secure them when it’s in transit from one location to another.
This, in turn, often leads to sensitive information and files being intercepted by hackers and results in identity theft, fraud, ransomware attacks, and more.
To prevent this, organizations must implement security policies for sharing sensitive files and information.
For example, organizations can ask their remote employees to either encrypt sensitive files before sharing them with co-workers or use secure transfer protocols such as HTTPS or SFTP to eliminate exposure to cyberattacks.
5 - Webcam Hacking
The rise in remote work has increased the use of video conferencing and other collaboration platforms among organizations.
But, cybercriminals can easily intercept, sabotage, or sneak into your conference calls undetected when remote workers are using their personal devices that lack proper security controls.
This, in turn, can make it easier for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to their webcams and successfully obtain sensitive information like corporate emails, which they can use to their advantage.
6 - Socially Engineered Cyber Attacks
With the advancements of modern technology, hackers are becoming more sophisticated with their techniques to target remote workers.
For the uninitiated, a socially engineered cyber attack is a popular type of attack where hackers leverage psychological manipulation tactics to trick or bait remote workers into divulging sensitive information or performing an action in exchange for something in return.
To prevent socially engineered attacks, organizations must provide security awareness training to their remote employees and encourage them to use email filters & firewalls to verify requests before sharing sensitive information.
7 - Phishing & Ransomware
Last but not least, phishing and ransomware are major threats to an organization’s security.
According to research, phishing emails saw a whopping 600% increase during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Just like socially engineered attacks, these two scams are designed specially to fool remote workers into downloading malicious software or sharing sensitive information.
Simply put, cybercriminals leveraging phishing and ransomware basically pose as a legitimate source, mostly over email, to trick remote workers into sharing sensitive information.
Later, they threaten the remote workers to make the information public unless they agree to pay a ransom.
As remote work continues to be a viable option for organizations, security risks associated with remote work are becoming more paramount.
As you have just learned, there are plenty of security risks of not securing your devices when working remotely. Therefore, it’s crucial to remain proactive in securing your devices when working remotely so that you can mitigate the risks before an incident occurs.
Ideally, organizations should implement strict security protocols like providing employees with secured devices, enforcing secure remote access policies, and providing cybersecurity training to their employees.