The importance of network security has never been more vital.
A flexible information risk management program is critical as the risks your organization faces continually evolve. But the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a security vector often overlooked by many businesses: the cybersecurity risks of remote work.
Companies are requiring staff to work from home in record numbers in an attempt to weather the pandemic and comply with lockdown orders and social distancing guidelines. But the virus isn’t the only threat they’re facing.
With so many employees working from home, business networks are being tested in entirely new (and often unexpected) ways. Traffic loads are different and people are accessing shared files in new ways and communicating using untested tools. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but all these novel tools and strategies increase the cybersecurity risks of remote work. Your organization must be prepared to address new threats and vulnerabilities if you want to come out of the pandemic unscathed.
Cybersecurity Risks of Remote Work
What kind of information security risks are associated with remote work? The specific threats and vulnerabilities your organization faces will vary based on the nature of your business, your systems, and what kinds of data you collect.
Let’s look at some of the most common cybersecurity risks of remote work.
Unsecured Network Access
In your offices, you can maintain full control over your company’s networking and wifi to prevent unauthorized parties from accessing your business-critical systems or data. Working from home means your employees are using their personal wifi networks, which are unlikely to include such stringent security measures.
Unsecured Devices and Programs
While company-owned devices can be regularly inspected and updated to ensure your security standards are maintained, one of the cybersecurity risks of remote work appears when your team uses devices, programs, or platforms not officially sanctioned by your IT department. “Shadow IT” — when your employees solve new problems on their own by adopting untested solutions — can dramatically increase the risk of your data or systems being compromised.
Scams in which online criminals pose as people or organizations your employees might trust with sensitive data have skyrocketed since the pandemic began. When regular in-person meetings or conversations can’t happen, your staff may not question an email request that appears to come from within the company.
What Is “Mature” Security?
When the COIVID-19 pandemic forced millions of organizations around the world to change their way of doing business almost overnight, a great many found themselves without the appropriate anticipatory cybersecurity plans in place.
They were ill-prepared for the new attack vectors that remote work would create and lacked the employee training, processes, policies, infrastructure and staff they needed to protect themselves. Many organizations are struggling to catch up and breaches are happening every day, leading to loss of time, money and reputation.
Mature security not only includes countermeasures you need today, but also ensures the flexibility to counteract new situations as they arise. Companies that are ready for abrupt changes in their regular IT risk assessments — even if they don’t know what those changes might be — have a significant edge over those who only have a locked-down plan to deal with their known attack vectors.
Assessing Security Maturity
The information security threats your organization faces are continually evolving. And experts predict that working from home won’t automatically disappear from most industries when the pandemic ends. That’s why the cybersecurity risks of remote work are something you should prepare for in the long term.
A security maturity assessment isn’t just a list of items you can check off once and be done with them. It’s an ongoing system of internal checks, attack vector and response research, regulatory maintenance, and standards updates. Done right, it can provide your management team with valuable insight into your strengths and weaknesses and illustrate the value of current and future investments in information security.
Make sure your assessment of security maturity includes:
Concerned About Information Security?
The experts at AISN can help you develop, implement and adapt information security programs to ensure that your organization is protected against the cybersecurity risks of remote work. Talk to us today about assessing your risk, understanding your security maturity and developing an information security program that meets your needs.