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4 Ways Remote Employees are More Vulnerable to Cyberattacks

November 2, 2021 at 10:15 AM / by Abbie Gatewod

We all heard the news, and many were personally affected in April 2021 when the security of the Colonial Pipeline was compromised. Panic and chaos ensued as the supply of gas was disrupted all along the east coast. 

Eventually, the Colonial Pipeline gave 4.4 million dollars in bitcoin to cyber attackers to avoid further disruption. Later, government officials reported the cybersecurity of the pipeline was not up to par. With stronger protection in place, this may have been prevented.

Not all cyberattacks happen at this scale, but your organization’s security is a top priority. In the past, the majority of your company’s work happened in the office. You had systems in place to make sure you were protected.

But, in the last two years, the work landscape has dramatically changed. With more employees working remotely, cyberattacks are on the rise.

Let’s look at some of the most common ways your remote workers unknowingly make your organization vulnerable to cyberattacks and what you can do about it.

Remote Employees and Cybersecurity - What You Need to Know

While working remotely has many benefits for your company, one downside is there are more security risks. Many security measures utilized in the office setting are not used in the remote work environment.

Your employees have the company’s best interest at heart, but without the proper systems, procedures, and education, their remote work environment may be increasing your vulnerability to cyberattacks. 

Here are four common ways remote employees put their organizations at risk:

  1. Using Unsafe Wireless Networks - Most home offices or public workspaces, like coffee shops and libraries, don’t have secure Wi-Fi connections. Employees accessing sensitive information on these networks are targets for cybercriminals.
  2. Working from Personal Devices - Home computers and personal laptops often have no firewalls and software that isn’t up to date. Older devices are used with little to no thought given to safety. These holes in security make confidential content vulnerable.  
  3. Opening Compromised Emails - Scammers are creative when it comes to email phishing. They can create emails that look like they’re sent from the CEO of your organization. Then, they ask employees to open a link or urgently send sensitive information. Another common tactic scammers use is requesting digital gift cards. 
  4. Creating Weak Passwords - According to Keeper Security, at least 81% of people reuse the same password across multiple logins.¹ Hackers use a variety of methods to figure out passwords. For repeat password users, this means that once they’ve got your password, cybercriminals have access to multiple accounts.

The good news is there are lots of options when it comes to making sure your company is protected. Here are some ways you can have peace of mind about the security of your organization, even when a majority of the work is being done remotely.

Implement a Solid Security Stack

One of the best practices of cybersecurity defense is to make sure your organization is security stacking or providing layered security defenses. 

There’s no one single product that can stop one hundred percent of threats that are out there. It’s inevitable that some things will get through. But, you can mitigate the risk through a series of layered defenses.

Some layers of your security stack can include:

  • Use a VPN - Feel confident knowing your remote employees are using a VPN, or virtual private network. When working on a VPN, data will be encrypted and the IP address will be hidden by rerouting your network activity to another secure server.  
  • Limit Access to Sensitive Information - Be assured that the threat of stealing sensitive information is lessened when employees only have access to what’s necessary for their jobs.
  • Multifactor Authentication - Feel secure knowing that more than just a username and password is needed to log in to accounts on a new device. Extra authentication may include a unique code sent directly to your employee’s phone when they try to log in, which makes access more difficult for hackers.
  • Email Protection - Help employees keep your organization protected by making sure all emails go through a series of malware and spam checks before ever getting to their inboxes.

These are just a few ways that you can build a security stack to keep your company safe from cyberattacks.

Endpoint Detection and Response - the Next Generation of Antivirus

Most of your employees know antivirus software as something that runs in the background, saving them from viruses and malware. These days, this just isn’t enough.

Endpoint detection and response, more commonly known as EDR, is a new way of doing antivirus. It’s based on a framework of detecting malicious activity and creating a map of what happens so it can be followed by cybersecurity teams.

The biggest game-changer with EDR is that the software is frequently monitored by a special team called the Security Operation Center, or the SOC. The SOC monitors all endpoints being protected, and when there’s a threat, human eyes are watching what’s happening in real-time.

In other words, EDR detects an attack happening and sends a notification. The SOC responds to the notification in real-time and is able to mitigate the attack. They can even use software to isolate an infected computer from the network so the infection cannot spread further.

With endpoint detection and response in place, backed by human eyes monitoring the security of your organization around the clock, you can feel confident knowing your organization is well-protected against widespread cyberattacks.  

Employee Education - The Most Valuable Tool for Protection

According to Computer Weekly, more than half of businesses surveyed believe cyberattacks are caused by a lack of knowledge, carelessness, or malice by employees. More research revealed that 84% of cyberattack victims attribute the attack, at least in part, to human error.¹

Additionally, Tech News World reports a recent study found that those under the age of 25 and over the age of 75 are the most vulnerable cybercrime victims.² Although young adults are thought of as tech-savvy, they’re much more relaxed with their online habits and more willing to share personal data. Older adults are typically less familiar with online technologies and are more susceptible to phishing and scams.

On the bright side, this means that educating your employees can reduce vulnerabilities to cyberattacks. People who are naturally skeptical or know what to look for in emails don’t typically fall victim to phishing.

Organizations that provide clear guidelines and educate their employees on company-wide cybersecurity expectations and protocols are less likely to be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The All-Inclusive Solution - ImageNet Managed IT Services

You know you need to keep your organization protected, but managing the cybersecurity of your company is a full-time job in and of itself. 

Let ImageNet Managed IT Services protect you with easy, reliable support.

We offer a free, no-obligation network assessment that includes a review of:

  • Network Components and Basic Network Configuration to make sure you’re mitigating threats
  • Computing Environment (Server/Workstations) assuring that your work environment is as secure as possible
  • Maintenance Procedures that keep your organization up to date 
  • Security and Data Backup so you never have to stress about losing critical data or documents
  • Computer, Security, Network/Server Best Practices to make sure you and your employees aren’t unknowingly putting your organization at risk

Feel peace of mind knowing that your organization is protected and in good hands and schedule your free network assessment now.

  1. https://www.keepersecurity.com/assets/pdf/Keeper-Mobile-Survey-Infographic.pdf 
  2. https://www.computerweekly.com/news/450425184/Security-professionals-name-top-causes-of-breaches
  3. https://www.technewsworld.com/story/young-adults-seniors-over-75-most-susceptible-to-cyber-fraud-report-87059.html

Written by Abbie Gatewod

Abbie Gatewood is a copywriter who partners with businesses to implement content marketing strategies.

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