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How to Overcome the Cybersecurity Risks of Remote Working

4 Mins read

As businesses continue to navigate the complexities of remote work, it’s imperative to adopt a proactive stance when it comes to cybersecurity risks.

From an increased difficulty in managing IT assets to ensuring adequate protection of endpoint devices on potentially untrusted and malicious networks, the cyber threat landscape is far from static. It’s an ever-evolving ecosystem where cybercriminals continually adapt their strategies to exploit emerging vulnerabilities.

In order to protect their organizations and employees, business leaders with remote workers should adopt security measures and cultivate a cyber-conscious mindset company-wide.

Patrick Wake, Group Director of Information Security at FDM Group comments: “Whilst most people relate remote working as working from home, what we really need to be thinking about is the ability to securely work from anywhere.  This could be your home office, on your commute or the local café, from your mobile phone, laptop or home PC.

“Ignoring the looming cyber risks in a remote work setting can lead to serious consequences. Data breaches can expose confidential information, financial losses can be crippling, and the damage to one’s reputation can be irreparable.

“Fortunately, there’s plenty to be done to overcome remote worker security risks, from building strong identity frameworks to simply educating remote workers about cyber hygiene.”

Here are five tips to help overcome the cyber security risks of working from home:

Connecting People to Their Data

The days of considering your organization’s IT estate as a castle and feeling safe behind its walls are well and truly behind us. With an ever-increasing digital life and access to company information via multiple online web portals – such as booking annual leave on HR systems and checking your digital payslip, all of which can be done from your mobile device anywhere in the world – it has become imperative to implement IT services with security and privacy by design.

By focusing on the roles of members of staff, you will be able to control access to your data in a more granular and secure way. This can be through implementing Identity Access Management (IAM), where a series of controls can ensure that only authorized people have access to specific resources outside of your office environment. Controls like Multi-Factor Authentication, Single Sign-On, and role based access control will provide a strong foundation to build on. However, not all controls are technical in nature and businesses should follow practices such as not sharing accounts and having unique IDs for each member of staff, as well as sticking to the principle of least privilege, where staff only have access to the information they need to conduct their responsibilities.

Managing Assets and OS Hardening

Whilst securing your devices is of great importance, it is more important to know how many you have, and that you can confirm you are securing all of them to a high standard rather than just the ones you can physically access in the office.

Managing assets has never been an easy task, and whilst most people imagine this is as easy as walking around the office counting devices, this is now more difficult with devices on the move all around the world, not to mention the ones turned off and left in lockers and drawers.

To manage these devices, it’s important to use technologies such as mobile device management (MDM) and configuration management database (CMDB). These will enable organizations to know what systems they are responsible for and what condition they are in.

To continually keep devices secure it is important that organizations have the ability to push updates and configuration changes to them whenever they are online.

Edge and Zero Trust

With more businesses allowing employees to use their own devices, commonly known as BYOD, it puts a lot of emphasis on the business to trust that their staff are making the right decisions, such as ensuring that employees’ devices are up to date, have a good antivirus program and a strong password.

However, to keep critical infrastructure secure and available to people potentially across the globe, it is important to separate untrusted devices from the rest of the network. This can be done by reverse proxies, edge computing or connecting to remote virtual desktops. It could even include the use of managed browsers to enforce security controls and data loss prevention, to safeguard sensitive information but allow access to company productivity suites like Office365.

Trusting the Network

When using a public Wi-Fi or internet connection, try and make sure it is a legitimate service being offered. Airports, café and hotels are targeted with fake networks trying to pry sensitive information out of your traffic and can also use this connection to target your device.

To protect your device, it is important to make sure that you are using the aforementioned technologies, but furthermore also ensure that you have sharing services turned off and that your firewall is turned on.

Conducting Regular Security Assessments and Updates

It is imperative that you conduct regular security assessments to identify vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by malicious actors. Among these measures, penetration testing stands out as a crucial strategy. By simulating real-world attacks, organizations gain insight into the effectiveness of their security measures. This proactive approach not only exposes weak points but also allows for refining and bolstering defenses in response.

However, security is not a one-time task; it’s a continuous commitment. Emphasizing the importance of consistently updating and adapting security protocols is paramount. As cyber threats evolve, so must our strategies to counter them. By remaining vigilant and responsive, organizations can stay one step ahead of potential breaches.

Patrick Wake is the Group Director of Information Security at FDM Group. FDM Group is a global leader in the recruit, train, deploy sector, launching thousands of careers every year across the globe.

Remote worker stock image by fizkes/Shutterstock

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