It’s no surprise that cybersecurity risks escalated with the work-from-home movement. Ever since COVID-19 resulted in millions of workers moving to a home office environment, employees are growing accustomed to working off the network, and more sensitive data is being stored locally than ever before.
While IT departments have been scrambling since 2020 to rectify the situation, many at-home workers have become comfortable not logging in to the VPN prior to accessing sensitive data. And this simple oversight can put your business at tremendous risk.
A plethora of issues rise up when no one is watching and employee policies are either ignored or nonexistent for this workforce shift. Here’s just a few to watch out for.
With millions of unsecured personal laptops and smartphones accessing important data at the start of the pandemic, attack surfaces expanded. For those employees who had never worked from home, and whose security experience is limited to making sure their antivirus software hasn’t lapsed, their mission was simply to get their jobs done. But outdated home routers and personal laptops without the right security opened the door to data breaches, ransomware attacks and various other cybercrimes.
Software in the cloud became a lifesaver for many at-home workers during the pandemic, and the trend continues. But when cloud access is misconfigured, giving employees too much access or access to areas not needed to do their job, vulnerabilities are introduced. According to Check Point Software Technologies’ “2022 Cloud Security Report,” 25% of the IT professionals surveyed noted cloud misconfigurations as the cause of a recent security breach.
When videoconferencing replaced in-person meetings as a means of social distancing, zoombombing took hold. This term, which was introduced at the start of the pandemic, describes when uninvited participants, typically hackers, break into a zoom call. This seems highly unlikely, but anyone with a zoom link to a public meeting can join. And now, links to public meetings are traded on Facebook and Discord, giving anyone access to your confidential discussions.
As remote workers get tired of the “remote” portion of their workday, many are migrating to their local library or coffee shop, where public Wi-Fis are accessed. Hackers can setup fictious hotspots that look like the public Wi-Fi, and when workers login, data is stolen. Even more alarming is when the employee’s identity is stolen—name, title, email, passwords—which can then be used to impersonate the employee to other coworkers.
Shadow IT is a term that describes the use of software, applications, devices and various other technology systems that have not been approved by the IT department. Even before the pandemic, Shadow IT was an issue. Now, it’s rampant.
When the IT department is unaware of a certain technology being used, they can’t secure it or support it. This practice can often lead to security issues and vulnerabilities, opening yet another door for hackers.
How to Secure a Remote Workforce
- Mandate VPN Usage. When employees are required to login to a virtual private network prior to conducting any work, all activity is performed behind the firewall, thus securing data and any interactions the employees have with systems, devices, and coworkers. This mandate should also apply to any third-party vendors that have access to sensitive data or secure systems.
- Password Management. Develop policies and procedures around password usage, forcing employees to use multi-factor authentication when available, different passwords for different logins, and strong passwords that can’t be easily hacked.
- Configure the Cloud Properly. Limit employee access only to those areas deemed necessary to accomplish a job. Never give any employee full access just for the sake of ease of use, and always revoke rights immediately upon termination.
- Use Attack Surface Management Software. Every policy and procedure can still introduce vulnerabilities, especially if remote workers refuse to follow them. Attack surface management software can run 24/7 in the background, monitoring systems and notifying your IT department immediately if unauthorized access is detected. Often, this early detection can save millions of dollars by thwarting hackers before a ransomware attack can be fully executed.
Schedule a Demo of ProcessBolt
ProcessBolt’s 4-in-1 platform can help eliminate vulnerabilities introduced by a remote workforce. Let us show you how quickly and easily you can detect threats with ThreatScape—our attack surface management software, built around our vendor risk management program. Fill out the below form to see a demo and receive ThreatScape free for 30 days.