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The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted daily life, restricting people to their homes and preventing them from going into the office to work. In response, many companies are hurriedly changing over to a remote-capable workforce and having their employees work from home. This strategy can be highly effective, but if a company and its team isn’t careful, it can also be risky.
Many businesses have had no choice but to shut down as “non-essential” businesses are closed. While the definition of an “essential” business varies from place to place, the Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have provided some general guidelines describing what kind of services should be seen as essential.
This list includes many businesses who could conceivably operate on a remote basis, if they had the internal capabilities. Unfortunately, this often isn’t the most secure option. Let’s review why working from home can be less secure than working in the office, and what you can do to help minimize these effects.
As you would expect, there are a lot of factors that can serve as a detriment to remote work’s inherent security. This is exacerbated by the fact that there is currently a global health disaster that cybercriminals can use to their advantage:
Therefore, cybercriminals have the opportunity to use many of their favorite tactics to their advantage. Researchers and cybersecurity professionals have seen an uptick in ransomware attacks, remote access tools, and trojans, thanks to cybercriminals using COVID-19 as bait during their phishing attacks by playing off the stress that the coronavirus is causing in many people. It doesn’t help that many remote workers will check their personal emails alongside their professional ones, adding to the chances of a successful attack via their email. Others will pose as the hiring organization itself to swindle remote employees.
To be fair, attackers are also seeing more success in targeting businesses directly, while security is put on the back burner as they focus on their COVID-19 preparedness.
As we mentioned earlier, businesses are also generally ill-prepared for this kind of event, especially those who operate in industries that aren’t commonly associated with remote operations, and whose systems are often outdated and poorly maintained, and/or proprietary in nature and not conducive to remote capabilities. Industries that face particular regulations and certification requirements have another hurdle to clear.
While it is unfortunately going to be a reactive response at this point instead of a proactive measure, businesses can adopt certain solutions that will assist them in securing their remote workers from attack.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may be providing businesses with the motivation to put these measures into place now, these measures and other recommended best practices should always be followed. Digital Seattle can help you put them into place whether you’re an essential business or not. Give us a call at (206) 709-9556 to learn more.