Remote working: The importance of cybersecurity

by | 14th July 2020

Did you know that human error is involved in 90 percent of security breaches?

With more people working from home than ever before, your security systems may be less robust. Unfortunately, cyber criminals know this and are ready to take advantage.

But don’t worry. We’re here to help. In this blog, we’ll explain why remote working increases cybersecurity risks, as well as the seven ways you can mitigate this increase.

Why does remote working increase cybersecurity risks?

Eighty-six percent of c-suite executives believe remote working increases the chance of a security breach. And, with extra remote-working threats to consider, they may be right.

Here are three reasons why working from home can expose the cracks in your cybersecurity plan:

1. Vulnerable employee devices

Tablets, smartphones and personal laptops are convenient working devices for your employees, but they can also pose a serious security risk. Without a solid security policy in place, your employee devices may be compromised.

Unfortunately, 61 percent of organisations haven’t yet established a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) security policy, according to Trustlock. This lack of policy, training and ongoing security can open the floodgates to a wealth of malicious activities.

Cyber criminals are always finding new ways to tap into networks that may be vulnerable, through tactics such as phishing emails and scam SMS messages. These ‘scam’ communications often contain harmful URLs that can harvest personal data or install malware on the victim’s device.

Remote working opens up a space for these attacks to occur, as it’s harder to control breaches of home networks. So be sure to explore the full implications of having corporate data accessed remotely on a device.

2. Sharing your data and the compliance risks

It’s important to control the data you transfer across multiple devices and locations, as working from home requires more stringent compliance arrangements.

While remote working, you need to ensure your business meets regulatory and GDPR obligations when it comes to data security. As an example, you might want to ensure your data is ‘wipeable’ should a device be stolen.

If the appropriate measures are not in place, it can hold up recovery and risk further data loss, resulting in compilatory fines and reputational costs.

3. Rushed setups can cause long-term remote-working problems

Handling a remote working setup can be complicated at the best of times. With so many moving parts to consider, such as device provisioning and multi-factor authentication setup, it can take some planning. But, throw in a global pandemic and a requirement for instant remote capabilities and it’s more likely mistakes will be made.

It’s these mistakes that can leave your business vulnerable to cybercriminals.

After all, switching from office desktops to personal devices and new laptops usually takes months. Instead, there has been a dramatic global shift to remote working over a matter of days/weeks.

This is why, when the next unforeseeable event happens, you’ll need a reliable response plan that enables you to securely implement remote working, guaranteeing business continuity.

So, now is the time to evaluate your IT cybersecurity policy and processes to make sure your business is ready for anything. With that in mind, here are seven ways to keep your business secure from home.

The 7 best ways to stay safe while remote working

Businesses of all sizes are at risk of cyber-crime. In the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019, 32 percent of businesses reported a breach or attack in the UK in 2019, resulting in a loss of data or income in 30 percent of cases.

But this needn’t be your reality. With the right security measurements in place, you can keep your data and profits secure.

The following seven measures should form the core of your cybersecurity plan:

1. Endpoint security

Without the right security in place, cyber criminals can access your business data via end-user devices (desktops, laptops and mobile devices).

To protect these endpoints, you’ll need a business grade anti-virus software that protects these points, on a network or in the cloud, by detecting malware and other threats.

2. Security automation

You can improve your security by automating key security tasks. For example, blocking or disabling the access of suspicious users gives you a strong chance of preventing a data breach.

This automation makes it easier to monitor, detect and remove remote working threats, despite the increase in potential risk. It also enables your business to become more proactive when it comes to cybersecurity.

3. Cloud backup

No cybersecurity solution is complete without backup and recovery. Transferring data across multiple devices makes your data especially vulnerable as increased movement increases the chances of something going wrong.

However, with the right backup solution in place, from server systems to databases, your sensitive data is automatically encrypted and stored safely.

4. Multi-factor authentication

This requires remote users to verify their identity more than once when they attempt to login to a system using their mobile device. For example, they would have to enter their password and then either approve a push notification sent to a mobile device or enter a PIN sent via SMS.

This forms part of the Enterprise Mobility and Security (EM+S) suite that use identity-driven measures to help you stay secure. So, even if hackers compromise your password, you have that second layer of security.

5. App security

App security uses various software, hardware and procedures to identify and minimise security threats. These are built into the application and follow a security routine that provides visibility and control over data travel. With sophisticated analytics, app security actively searches for and combats the risks and vulnerabilities to your cloud apps across Microsoft Office 365 solutions.

6. Third-party patching (TPP)

This automatically updates common third-party apps, ensuring you’ve always got the latest, most secure software even when remote working. TPP installs bug fixes and improvements to non-Microsoft software.

7. VPN/encrypted RDS gateway

A reliable home internet service provider (ISP) is helpful when keeping your remote workforce secure. But, it’s not enough. You’ll also need either:

  • An encrypted remote desktop gateway (RDS gateway), allowing users to sign on to a network computer remotely – creating safe, restricted access for users to quickly log in to their desktop without exposing them to the whole network or;
  • A virtual private network (VPN) which creates an encrypted tunnel between public and private networks, securing the transfer of sensitive information.

Business continuity after disruption

For your remote workers to get the full benefits of innovative cloud apps and tools, the right balance of cybersecurity and supportive access must be met.

Every day your business relies on data, documents and applications for tasks such as logging billable hours. So, ask yourself this: what would happen if you suddenly lost access to those things? Or, worse, if your sensitive data was exposed to cyber criminals?

When it comes to cybersecurity, defence isn’t everything. You also need a disaster recovery plan, so you know how to react to any security incident.

A disaster recovery plan allows you to:

  • Put the appropriate controls in place to reduce the impact of a data leakage. In the event of a breach, businesses need fast, effective recovery to get back on track.
  • To invest in new security technology.
  • Determine the costs of downtime and for recovery.
  • Determine the intangible cost of reputational damage.
  • Have confidence in their overall IT system.

You can’t always be sure that your data won’t be compromised. So, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Mobility and security can work together

Remote working and the use of personal devices for work can expose your business to increased cybersecurity risk, leaving you vulnerable.

But, with the right security set up, you can keep your business safe no matter how mobile you are.

At Chalkline, we’re well versed in remote working. We know how to keep your sensitive data safe while ensuring your workforce stays productive.

Our security bundle outlines how we can help you protect against these modern threats. If you have any questions, please get in touch. We’d love to discuss your cybersecurity needs and how we can meet them.

Find out more about how we found the shift to remote working by watching our webinar here.

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