As originally published in Techopedia, April 7, 2020
Cybersecurity Concerns Rise for Remote Work
Technological advances have enabled more people to work remotely, and there was a clear trend in place that was noted at the beginning of 2020.
Those numbers would have multiplied in the wake of COVID-19, which prompted many businesses to shift to a remote work model.
There are clear benefits to empowering employees to work remotely that may make more businesses embrace this model for the future.
However, the vulnerabilities of collaboration platforms that have come to light as people working from home increasingly use it to connect and the increase in cyberattacks recorded this month make it clear that remote work situations call for extra vigilance.
We put together tips from experts on securing communication and data transmission with remote employees.
What are Remote Work Challenges?
James Stickland, CEO of Veridium, observed: ”You used to just have to protect the four walls in which you sat.” But with the shift to remote work, Stickland said you have to think about the weakest link in the chain, which typically comes down to the human user and the remote collaboration tools available to them.
Ideally, he said, you’d want to have a plan in place ahead of setting up remote teams with “seamless strategies and user-driven processes” that enable people to work intuitively without putting a strain on IT for setup and explanation.
That is why users need to be properly prepared and trained in using the tools of choice for the business.
Otherwise, users will find their own workarounds, which results in security gaps. Stickland acknowledged that many fall short on providing the necessary “education and reference points” for security awareness on the part of remote workers.
Passwords are Passe in this Environment
All the experts agreed that relying on passwords alone for remote workers’ security is asking for trouble. They generally favor multi-factor authentication (MFA), as well as secure alternatives to passwords like biometrics.
Ryan Thompson, CEO of the home security company Smith Thompson recommended: “Finding the right way to securely connect to your network is critical.
The BYOD Question
When working from home, many people end up using their own computers, laptops, and mobile phones. Some embrace BYOD, though others consider it a potential security gap.
Heinan Landa, CEO and Founder of Optimal Networks believes it’s safer to use firm-provided equipment. He explains that is “because most companies have antivirus and filtering already in place” and “maintain their machines pretty well.”
He also recommends keeping the devices used for work exclusively for that, which means: “Keep kids and family off of it.” The concern is that if other users go on , they may end up on sites that can compromise the security of the device, and: “Keeping work data safe has to be top priority.”
One the other hand, Stickland considers BYOD “very viable.” He said there are many options for software that will enable you to create applications for a secure environment or toggling to create access to specific content to maintain a segregated environment.
He explained that the solutions emerged six or seven years ago when people started bringing their iPhones into work, and then got extended to laptops and other devices.
“Your phone may be jailbroken, and your laptop can have viruses,” Stickland conceded. “But that shouldn’t affect access to content.”
It’s also sometimes necessary to enable people to use their own devices because it is sometimes not possible for the organization to provide all who have to work remotely equipment to use at home.
Accordingly, Stickland believes the solution lies in the right software rather than exclusive devices.