Remote Work Brings Increased Opportunity for Cyber Threats

Know what to watch for in order to stay cyber-safe

April 07, 2020 | By Milena Kodde
Remote worker using secure laptop to work from home

Teleworking is a concept that has been around for years. However, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has forced nearly everyone around the world to stay in their homes, as many governments and businesses have adopted social distancing techniques to limit or slowdown the spread of the virus, increasing the number of telecommuters to unparalleled levels worldwide in a matter of weeks.

Even though many companies already have remote work policies in place and are well equipped for this type of work environment, cybersecurity risks are swelling as the number of employees working from the comfort of their homes continues to rise.

“As an organization, you face the same cybersecurity threats whether you have 10 employees telecommuting or 10,000. What changes is the scale and the probability of a security breach, especially if you are in a rush to implement a remote work policy,” states Raheem Beyah, executive program director of Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity. “Many of the top cybersecurity threats that we currently face have been around for years, it’s just that teleworking at such a large scale has brought them to light today.”

Here are three common threats to cybersecurity to be aware of:

  1. Connecting to unsecure network and using personal devices
    Having to quickly move their workforce from the office to teleworking, many employees may have to use their personal devices and home wi-fi networks for work. Both often lack the protection systems that are built into businesses’ networks such as firewalls and antivirus software, leaving devices more vulnerable to a cyber threat.
  2. Phishing campaigns and fraudulent calls
    Working from home means that many employees will rely on email and phone communications from their organizations. This increases the risk of receiving a fraudulent email or phone call to get information such as login details (called “phishing”), which can lead to a security breach.
  3. Ransomware and spyware
    Working on a personal network or device coupled with the possibility of receiving a fraudulent email increases the chances of ransomware or spyware being uploaded onto the IT systems of organizations.

In such an unprecedented time of uncertainty and isolation, awareness of the circumstances and potential threats is the first step to avoiding any further complications. But what else can you do to minimize these risks and avoid a breach? Read our article on Staying Cyber-Safe while Teleworking for eight helpful tips.