The Cyber Security Risks of Working From Home

In modern times, a huge amount of people are working for their employers or their own business from home, or if not, this pandemic has certainly forced an unprecedented sum of people to do so.

This situation has left no boundary between our private lives and work-life as homes have become our workstations, further leading us to adopt new but somehow spotty ways of conduct. It is hard to believe but the cybersecurity risks of working from home are becoming far more severe than expected.

When working from home, there is a high chance for remote employees to unknowingly put valuable chunks of information at stake while they fulfill their chores via unreliable home ISPs with unrestrained modems and peripherals. Even your Zoom discussions pose dozens of security and privacy risks.

Keep reading to get aware of a few major means by which working from home can render potential cyber threats to the company as well as tricks to help mitigate these risks. 

Phishing Attempts 

A phishing attack is when you unknowingly end up giving your personal information to hackers and cybercriminals who act like they are legitimate but aren’t. For instance, a legit-looking bank email asks you to enter your account details which are then sent to an unauthorized source.

In the same way, hackers might cleverly take your company’s sensitive data to carry out identity thefts, gain authorized access to the company’s main server and eventually, make further attacks. 

In times of Covid, thousands of businesses were forced to suddenly and temporarily shift their systems to remote work, causing employees to get confused in settling with the online mechanism without compromising security. 

The rapid pace at which phishing is evolving to become almost unrecognizable is making remote work even more vulnerable.

Training remote workers on how to detect scam emails or avoid receiving one are by far the most significant measures to reduce the risk posed by phishing. To incorporate every worker into your company’s cyber-secure bubble, we suggest you train all your employees the day they join you.

Weak Passwords

Even if you have equipped your remote network with powerful firewalls, VPNs, or other cybersecurity software, human negligence might come into play when workers protect their accounts via poor passwords

For hackers, getting in by exploiting human errors is far easier than breaching sophisticated security systems, which is why they’ll attempt to crack into accounts to reach the company’s sensitive information.

Such cybercriminals will make use of multiple techniques to crack one’s password. For instance, they’ll write a specially designed code that continuously attempts to put in a password by reorganizing the code in different forms. Another way is to use a precompiled list of possible passwords. 

By regulating users with strict password policies, companies can help promote a sense of individual responsibility amongst all their employees. Also, refraining from using your common information as a password like your birthday, nickname, or pet’s name is another vital step to strengthen your locks. 

Additionally, it is recommended to use passphrases, a string of random words, rather than repeat passwords. Strong passphrases can be of any length comprising 4 to 12 words or even more. The longer the password, the harder it is to crack.

Defenseless Sharing of Files

Everyone thinks of encrypting data that is stored on their systems. However, what people don’t realize is the importance of securing data while it is transferred from one location to another. 

Imagine if the tons of sensitive information, account credentials, client account information, and much more that is transferred regularly from your system to another location gets intercepted in its way by hackers? 

If you are afraid of thinking about the consequences then it’s better to start securing the transfer of files as soon as possible. Make sure to encrypt every single file that contains valuable chunks of data before it is transmitted over the phone or email. 

You can take help from multiple email encryption platforms or better use Outlook that provides its user a unique feature to convert plain text into cipher text which later on can be deciphered but only by the recipient.

Home Wi-Fi

Securing your remote workers’ laptops is undoubtedly essential but what’s even more crucial is to consider the amount of risk posed by the home Wi-Fi networks that your workers are operating on. 

For instance, while many are aware of the importance to update devices regularly, updating your home modems is often ignored.

Just like computers, routers that aren’t updated as early as possible won’t get their security vulnerabilities fixed. Eventually posing a greater cybersecurity threat than unsecured laptops do. Thus, it is recommended to check for router updates regularly as well as enable its built-in encryption feature if it possesses one. 

Also, companies should consider providing employees, especially the ones tackling more sensitive company data, with an efficient firewall. A firewall is what makes a company’s main internet router far more secure than an ordinary home router.  

Personal Devices  

Of course, working from home doesn’t mean you pack up your entire office, bringing in all the technology like printers or monitors to your residence. Instead, remote work made everyone resort to using their home devices.

Unlike office devices, most people don’t recognize the importance of encrypting their smartphone or personal laptops, even though they have now unofficially become office-use devices. This is when the data becomes vulnerable and potentially can be accessed by hackers. 

Furthermore, home printers, that offer you nifty features, sometimes fall short of enough security measures posing more than a few potential cybersecurity issues. To minimize the risk, it is recommended to turn off such dangerous features such as the ‘Print From Anywhere’ feature. 

Conclusion

As work from home becomes the only possible option to keep many businesses functional, amidst the Covid pandemic, the security of valuable data has become more crucial than ever. Unfortunately, this situation has also sparked innovative hackers and rapidly evolving cybersecurity threats to make the most out of it. 

Now that you know all the cybersecurity risks of working at home, ensuring your organization’s capabilities of fending off hacking attempts and preventing data breaches is the most crucial need of the time. 

PKI-Security Engineer & security blogger at gbhackers.com. She is passionate about covering cybersecurity and Technology.

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