What is Your Security Risk With a Remote Workforce?

Woman working in the field to illustrate security risk of work from home
October 12, 2022

Working from home can be a great way to extend the range of talent you can employ. But it’s also a security risk to your business. This article will discuss some of the top security risks of remote working, and offer advice on how to minimize such risks.

If you’ve already come to the conclusion that your remote workers are leaving you a little vulnerable as a business owner, contact us to discuss how your security operations can be improved to help mitigate that risk. Otherwise read on to see how security loopholes can develop.

Types of Security Risk With Home Devices

1 Unsecured Wi-Fi Connections

When your members of staff work from home – or remotely in cafés or out in the field – it’s not a given that their internet connection will be secure.

Why? Although most people do update their phones, tablets, and computers, your staff may be using a router that’s not secured or up to date. It may be pubic Wi-Fi, for example.

Using Wi-Fi via an unsecured router is therefore a security risk. The router is often not encrypted or password protected, which means anyone could be monitoring what your staff members are doing on their device. If a malicious actor were to “see” them sharing sensitive information, they could intercept it.

In addition, remote access, when staff work away from the office, means they’re not protected by your major business security system that will have layers of security to prevent unauthorized access.

2 Multiplied Threat Vulnerability

Cybersecurity vulnerability increases when staff work from home with devices that are not limited to work tasks and maintained within an office. That’s because they often use their devices for purposes besides work.

Numerous installed apps and multiple social media engagements increase the area open to threat.

The truth is that around four-fifths of phishing attacks take place outside the email inbox – in other words, within text messaging apps or via gaming and other social media services.

In addition, your staff may, for example, use less secure file-sharing tools at home. Not only that, but their home printers and webcams may not have the same level of cybersecurity as your office ones and therefore leave security holes that allow hackers in.

3 Device Loss

Laptops, smartphones, and tablets are more transportable than office computers – losses happen regularly in transit. The result of losing a device that’s not properly password protected with all data securely encrypted is obvious!

On the other hand, virtual desktops/endpoints can at least be deleted immediately an incident occurs. Another virtual endpoint is then set up. That’s because these VDIs store data in a data center rather than on individual endpoints. It’s an option worth considering as a set-up for home workers.

The issue of device loss is also important on account of global acceptance that personal data need to be secure. Your business has to keep employee and customer data secure when used by your remote workforce on their own devices – because your business pays the fine if data breaches occur.

4 Inadequate Backup and Recovery Systems

Huge amounts of data fly in and out of most businesses. It’s the most important business asset you have.

Yet at home, there’s often no proper backup and storage. At least, not of the robust kind your business will have in place with quality infrastructure and modern secured networking. Data and brand-sensitive information are therefore open to loss and misuse.

This is especially so if you haven’t authorized and secured your staff’s specific named devices for work purposes only. This leads to a security risk to your whole business. A device “incident” caused by an attack from non-work sources – as indicated above – means your work information is at risk – not stored properly or backed up. Some may not be recoverable.

The advantages of remote monitoring and maintenance of the network infrastructure’s integrity become clear in these circumstances.

5 Weak Passwords

Credential theft rises with poor passwords and usernames on an unmanaged system at home.

The most common security risk is a weak password. Weak passwords are guessable by astute hackers or hacking software – which makes it easy for intruders to gain access to information from all areas of the device.

How to Mitigate The Security Risk of a Remote Workforce

With a remote workforce, you should educate your staff about all aspects of security risk when they work from home. This includes the following advice:

  • Secure the device with two-factor authentication (2FA).
  • Remember to use a VPN service to ensure privacy when on public Wi-Fi.
  • Avoid others using the device that is nominated for work.
  • Keep the computer locked when not in use.
  • Disengage webcams and other accessories when not needed.
  • Change even secure, strong passwords often (a preventative measure) and keep them safely stored in an encrypted password manager.
  • Watch for phishing attacks.
  • Only use licensed software and keep the OS and apps up to date.

As a business you should also consider implementing strong security frameworks such as Zero Trust and Secure Access Service Edge and integrating them with your network solutions. This will not eliminate the extra risks of home workers, but identity-based access control will help mitigate them.

RFIP Can Help

At RFIP, we have years of experience in all aspects of network infrastructure and modernization. We’d love to work with you as your external security advisor and help you manage the risk when your staff work remotely.

This includes

  • 24/7 monitoring,
  • advanced threat detection and monitoring,
  • endpoint security measures,
  • cloud monitoring of both infrastructure and apps, and
  • checking for compromised accounts.

For this, we recommend and supply Arctic Wolf services. The service assures your business’s security and eliminates as much risk as possible, day by day – wherever your staff work.

In addition, tactical efficiency at scale is what improves your business security – so you may find a Security Operations Centre is just what you need to manage a security risk assessment smartly.

Contact us today to discuss all your security options as your workforce moves to more remote working.

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While extending your talent pool with a remote workforce, you should also consider security. Learn about the security risk.

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