The remote workforce has been growing for years, but the number of remote workers has recently spiked as entire workforces suddenly became remote. This dramatic change has left businesses and their workers vulnerable to security breaches and cybersecurity attacks.
In a March 2020 Public Service Announcement, the FBI raised an alert regarding a large increase in cybersecurity attacks specifically related to COVID-19.1 Although the focus of the warning addressed the stealing of personal information, businesses must be vigilant. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risk Report states cyberattacks are one of the greatest risks that businesses will face in the next decade.2
Today’s sudden shift to a remote workforce has only increased the risk.
It’s not that companies haven’t had remote workers. Many have. Some have had mixed workforces with some employees working in an office, some remote, and some remote some of the time.
But as many workforces are now entirely working remote, they have become vulnerable to security threats for several reasons:
1) The policies to ensure best practices for a fully remote work were not in place.
2) They do not have infrastructure in place for large remote workforces.
3) The change happened suddenly, combined with unexpected financial challenges.
This article will offer ways to address each challenge and best practices companies can implement to protect both their business and their employees. First, however, it’s important to know the types of cyberattacks your people are most likely to experience and where the gaps are that put you at risk.
Cybercriminals may have many ways they attack businesses but attacks on a business via its employees or on employees themselves take two main forms:
There are, of course, other cyberattacks including viruses, spyware, worms and others. Strong endpoint protection can catch most of these. Phishing and ransomware have a high degree of sophistication that require more than technology to stop them – it requires employee attention.
Despite the challenges, businesses can – and should – quickly address today’s challenges and protect themselves and their employees from cyber threats. This is especially true for small businesses who are at serious risk as cybercriminals view them as “low-hanging fruit” and for whom resources may be more limited.
Fortunately, with technology today, businesses of any size can affordably protect themselves with enterprise-level security. Here’s where to start.
You can, and probably should, approach this in two ways.
First, share articles and content with your team on data security and how to protect themselves. Your IT department or IT provider can likely provide you with useful, informative content. This is a quick way to build awareness.
Second, assemble your leadership and technology teams to define – in writing – policies and a plan to implement them. Policies should address both user behavior as well as company practices, technologies, and education to support users and protect your data.
While the specifics will vary from one company to another, they should include technologies like endpoint and network protection. Your policies should also address basic security measures including:
With a remote workforce, you have a lot of technology options to stay connected. To ensure secured connections, protect your data, and manage access, you should use the following technologies.
A sudden surge in remote workers presents both a technology and financial challenge for businesses. Fortunately, the technology is available and can, with a partner experienced in remote deployments, be implemented quickly.
In fact, working with a third-party IT services provider to deploy and manage your technology can help alleviate the burden on your limited or suddenly overwhelmed IT staff, while still ensuring your business stays connected. Plus, managed IT services typically create a more manageable and predictable budget.
Cybersecurity services are one of many offerings that most managed IT services provide. To learn more about advanced security measures and what to look for, please view this webinar and download our whitepaper.
To find out if our cybersecurity services can help you protect your remote workforce, please contact us.