5 Data Security Risks When Working Remote and How You Can Defend Against Them

Mar 23, 2021 | Blog

In a study of business leaders performed by Accenture, 68 percent feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing – and rightfully so! Based on data provided by Cisco, cybercrimes are on track to surpass all the global trade of all major drugs combined. That begs the question, how do we maintain our business’s data security, especially with the global shift to remote work? In this article, you’ll learn the risks that accompany a digital presence, and how you can prepare your team for optimizing work from home security.

Risk #1 – Using public or unsecured networks.

With employees having more freedom to select their work environment, many choose to trade in their home offices or kitchen tables for a local coffee shop or co-workspace. While the change in scenery can help boost morale, it’s a serious data security risk to consider for businesses. When employees access company information from unsecure networks and public Wi-Fi, they create an open door for potential hackers to gain entry.

The Solution:

Having an external network for remote access is one solution that can help improve business privacy and data security. External networks create a degree of separation to isolate data breaches and protect your private network. Another solution is to set up a virtual private network (VPN) to act as a private network gateway. A VPN extends your business’s private network across a public one. This allows for added work from home security because it grants employees secure access from any device and a safe space for them to perform daily work. And as a rule of thumb, only use SSL connections (“HTTPS”) when accessing anything on the Internet.

Risk #2 – Easy access points through personal devices.

Another risk to public and personal devices is the ease of penetration hackers have through them into sensitive company materials. According to a survey by Google in 2019, 65 percent of people reuse the same password across multiple platforms. This explains why the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that compromised passwords directly cause 81 percent of hacking-related breaches. In addition, personal devices cannot be controlled and audited for frequent updates, security software and access to potentially harmful content.

The Solution:

Having access to devices utilized through the provision of company-owned devices is a guaranteed way to mitigate risk and improve private information security. If you’re also in an industry that relies on mobile devices to accomplish work-related tasks on the go, it’s advisable to implement a mobile device management solution to prevent data breaches should a smartphone or tablet ever be lost or stolen.

If these options are not feasible for your company, providing clear instructions regarding password best practices and which devices and software are permitted can add an extra layer of security. By ensuring employees are not installing potentially malicious software and maintaining strong, unique passwords that are updated over time, you can create an extra line of defense against cyberthreats.

Additional security measures include the use of multi-factor authentication, data encryption and session locking mechanisms. These actions will help detect suspicious behavior and deter hackers from breaching your system.

Risk #3 – Using outmoded software and technology.

The 2020 Kaspersky Global Corporate IT Security Risks Survey found that businesses utilizing outdated technology suffered far more frequent data breaches (65%) than counterparts who kept their technology up to date (29%). Not only does it pose a security risk, but outdated technology works against your team’s efforts to collaborate, utilize their time efficiently and communicate key information effectively. This can bottle-neck your projects and waste valuable time and money spent on each deliverable.

The Solution:

Choosing cloud-based collaboration tools provides a dual benefit for your team with the ability to keep software and technology updated and an extra layer of protection via cloud security. Cloud-based technology and software ensure that every user on the platform maintains updates, as it is managed by an overarching administrator, and it ensures the highest level of security cyberthreats. The company-protected cloud will give your business peace of mind through the ability to backup data, monitor and control data security, and maintain necessary defenses against lurking threats. Just be sure that your employees maintain business privacy by not storing cloud-based company data on their personal devices.

Risk #4 – Slow responses to suspected or known data breaches.

Based on a study by the University of Maryland, every 39 seconds a hacker strikes. Yet, for the prevalence of hacker attacks, it can take nearly 197 days to identify and 69 days to contain a breach according to IBM. Those numbers don’t bode well for businesses! So, how can organizations protect their data privacy and ward off threats?

The Solution:

The best offense is a great defense. And much like on the field, it’s key that everyone involved on the team understands the plan. By training your entire staff about current data security risks and signs of potential cyberthreats and data breaches, you’ll have more eyes watching for potentially suspicious activity. These trainings don’t require team members to be IT experts, but it will help your IT experts stay ahead of weak spots, areas of concern and instances of private information security being compromised.

Coupled with a vigilant team, data loss prevention (DLP) strategies are measures that can be set in place to preserve your data in the event of a natural or manmade disaster striking. These plans work to prioritize data, learn risks, closely monitor data movement and ensure that backups are regularly implemented to swiftly restore order back to your business.

Risk #5 – Not staying on top of software updates.

If you had a hole in the side of your house, odds are, you wouldn’t leave it exposed for long. The same mentality should be transposed in cyberspace. By not updating software regularly, your technology won’t be dexterous against active hackers and digital threats. As tempting as the remind me later button may be on update notifications, the time and money that companies would have to spend after data breaches is far too precious to risk.

The Solution:

This is, again, where cloud-based collaboration tools can be wisely implemented. The ability to control your entire network’s technology updates and regularly update company-wide hardware and software through patching updates will keep your ahead of cyber vulnerabilities. It’s important to have an expert overseeing these updates to ensure that updates don’t disrupt function and compatibility of your technology and create a blind spot in your defenses.

Have an expert on top of your data security.

When it comes to the costs of your business and data privacy, you can never be too safe. That’s where we come in. We provide top-tier, customizable managed IT services to help keep your business secure and your focus on your goals. Our team of experts will ensure your private information security is up to date, maintained, and preventative against data breaches and losses. To discover more about how we can support your business, contact us today!


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