Did you know businesses that offer remote work are far more susceptible to devastating cyberattacks? Yet, only 9% of remote companies use remote security solutions to secure their businesses.
Cyberthreats are constantly evolving, and attackers have now become particularly good at targeting remote businesses. While you’re being a considerate employer by letting your staff work from home, you need to be aware of the risks involved.
Without the proper tools and policies in place, your remote business is exposed to many security risks, which could result in:
❌ A damaged reputation—especially if an attack results in customer information being stolen. It damages the relationship you have worked so hard to build with your customers.
❌ Spending a significant amount of money trying to restore and repair your systems. If you fall victim to a ransomware attack, you may also have to pay attackers to release your data.
❌ Downtime and lost productivity as you recover from the attack, which could take weeks or even months.
❌ Having to file for bankruptcy. A company called Code Spaces had to shut down the company for good after a cyberattack in 2014.
In this article, we will explain what remote working security is and what tools you can use to secure your remote business against cybercrimes.
Table of contents
What Is Remote Work Security?
There is no doubt that business owners have taken data security seriously in the past. However, securing your business has now become more complicated with your workforce working remotely.
Before, your main concern was probably implementing security procedures to secure your local area network (LAN). Now you have to think about going beyond traditional security measures to protect your business.
What Is a LAN? 🤔
A local area network (LAN) is a community of interconnected devices in a set location, such as an office building or school.
What makes remote work a security risk?
Remote working presents an entirely different set of security risks than working on-site. These include:
- Unsecured Wi-Fi or Internet access: Your remote workers need to access your company data, but they may be doing so over public or home Wi-Fi networks, leaves your data vulnerable to interception by attackers lurking on that network..
- Personal devices: Your remote workforce may access your business using their own devices. You have no control over these devices, and they may not align with your security protocols.
- Unsecure passwords: Your employees are likely to recycle the same weak passwords across all their accounts, which could expose your business to a cyberattack—even if just one login is compromised.
- Untrained staff: It is possible that your employees are not sufficiently trained on your specific remote working security protocols, so they may unwittingly open up your business to cyberthreats.
- Decreased visibility: Since your employees work outside the office, you have less control over their online activity and the devices or endpoints they use. This is where endpoint security becomes important.
What are the biggest security risks for remote employees?
We recently spoke about some of the biggest cybersecurity risks to small businesses. However, some of these risks are made even greater by remote work.
❌ Customer Data Leaked in a Phishing Attack
Cloud storage giant Dropbox fell victim to a phishing attack recently where some of its customer data were breached when attackers got hold of customer login credentials.
Dropbox users received emails that directed them to a login page where they were asked for their username and password.
Once attackers got hold of these credentials, they were able to log into customers’ accounts and steal their data.
Although Dropbox is a large corporation, smaller businesses are no less vulnerable to phishing attacks.
Phishing attacks happen via common communication channels like email or instant messaging.
A phishing email might get sent to one of your remote employees who innocently follows a link that requests their login credentials.
And just like that, attackers can get into your company network.
❌ Phishing Emails Stealing Google Account Logins
In one case, a sophisticated phishing email claiming to link to a Google Docs file has been doing the rounds. The email encourages recipients to click on the link supposedly leading to the document, and takes them to a login page that is identical to that of a Google account.
When you enter your login credentials into this fake website, you are giving hackers access to your Google account.
Phishing is not a new cyberthreat and was certainly present before working from home became so popular. But it is now harder for your business to manage these types of attacks as you have less control over how your remote workforce accesses your business data.
Installing ransomware—a kind of malware—is how hackers take control of your data until you pay them a ransom fee.
❌ A Fake Windows Update Leads to Malware Infections
A recent example of a wave of malware infections took place when workers received emails telling them to install an urgent operating system update.
The “update” is actually malware which then becomes installed on the device and can grab hold of your data.
Microsoft stated that they will never send emails asking for updates to be downloaded; however, your employees could still fall victim to this type of scam.
Your remote workers are likely using their own devices to access your corporate network remotely. An employee’s device is known as an endpoint.
Without the right endpoint solutions or DNS filters in place to secure an employee’s device, this becomes the perfect way for malware to infect the devices connected to your network and infiltrate your resources.
❌ A Password Attack Leads to an 8.3 Million User Data Leak
A quiz website called DailyQuiz suffered a password attack where hackers stole the passwords, email addresses, and IP addresses of over eight million users.
DailyQuiz allows its users to register accounts and then build custom quizzes that can be shared with others.
The security breach involved a pop-up message that requested additional login details from users, which is how hackers stole their details.
This data was then publically leaked by putting it up for sale on hacking forums and Telegram for $2,000 in cryptocurrency.
It is possible that your company stores important customer information—such as usernames and passwords—on your corporate network.
Hackers can crack a password using sophisticated tools, allowing them to gain access to your entire business network.
If your remote workers are irresponsible about their passwords, or the passcodes they use are weak, a password attack becomes a risk.
❌ An Employee Selling Data on the Web
An employee at a company called Bupa stole the data of 547,000 customers via an in-house relationship management system. He copied the data, deleted it from the database, and then sold it online.
Bupa was fined over $200,000 for this data breach.
You may think all your employees are happy to work for you, but a disgruntled remote employee can steal sensitive information and damage your systems.
This is known as an insider attack, as the person attacking your business is someone who actually works for you.
As you have less control over your employees’ personal devices and their online activity when they work remotely, it can be challenging to prevent insider attacks.
How to Secure Your Remote Work Environments
Now that you know more about the types of unique security challenges that remote companies face, let’s look at some remote work security solutions.
These tools will help you strengthen your data protection and allow secure remote access.
Secure your tools and processes
Use virtual private networks
Virtual private networks (VPNs) create a private connection—-known as a tunnel—-between your employee’s device and a particular network, such as your LAN.
A VPN is a technology that connects users or devices to:
- Cloud systems or applications.
- An on-site system.
All the information that travels from the connected device to a virtual private network goes through this encrypted tunnel, which means it is made invisible to outsiders.
When a remote employee’s device connects to a virtual private network, it behaves the same way it would if it were physically connected to your private network.
A VPN gives your remote workers access to your business systems and resources securely, and hides all your sensitive data from hackers and prying eyes.
Using a cloud business VPN like GoodAccess allows for secure remote access between your remote workers and your corporate network. Everyone in your business that is connected to GoodAccess gets their own private tunnel to your business systems, no matter where they are located.
What to Look for in a Good Business VPN:
- Zero trust network access.
- Cloud functionality.
- User-friendly web-based dashboard.
- Software-defined perimeter.
➡️ GoodAccess has all these features and more for remote businesses that want to secure their networks.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security measure where your remote workforce will need to provide two or more forms of credentials to log into an account.
For example, when your banking app prompts you to enter a one-time PIN that has been sent to you via SMS, this is MFA.
If an employee needs remote access to your financial records, for example, MFA would require them to identify themselves twice before letting them get to your records.
Microsoft recently found that using MFA blocked over 99% of account attacks. This makes using MFA as a remote work security measure a no-brainer.
This security solution involves scrambling your sensitive data while it is traveling from your remote employee’s device to your business network and back.
As the data is scrambled, it cannot be seen by anyone outside your network—unless they have a special key that decrypts it.
How to Encrypt Your Business Data:
You can use Bitlocker for Windows or Firevault for iOS for remote users to encrypt and decrypt your business data.
The device an employee uses to work on is called an endpoint. As remote employees often own these devices, there is the risk that hackers can access your network through these endpoint devices.
Endpoint security involves remote companies having proper visibility and oversight of their employees' devices when they work from home and other locations.
For example, if a remote worker uses a personal computer to connect to your network, it should comply with your security protocols.
Endpoint management can include monitoring and authenticating endpoint devices so that only authorized users can access your network.
Tips for Endpoint Management:
- You need to capture information about each device that is connecting to your business network.
- You can give these endpoint devices special access to your network by installing security certificates or using a VPN.
- Using a cloud business VPN like GoodAccess is best practice for endpoint management, as it means your business network is safe no matter the device your employee uses.
Monitoring and testing
It is important that you constantly monitor and test your remote work environment to ensure that it is secure.
Monitoring your remote work environment can help you detect unusual activity or potential threats before they become a problem. It is also important to test your security regularly to make sure it provides a solid enough defense against cyber-risks.
The Best Remote Work Security Monitoring Tools:
- Teramind: This tool can be used by any business in any environment, making it one of the best on the market.
- Veriato Cerebral: Best for complex threat protection.
- ActivTrak: Best for monitoring and activity tracking.
- Controlio: Best for small businesses with a distributed workforce.
- Hubstaff: Best for tracking time and monitoring employees.
Secure your teams
Tools and data security measures alone are not enough to protect your business. It is also up to you as a company and your remote workforce to take proactive steps to maintain security.
Remote working security tips for employers
✅ Use cloud applications: These usually come with extra security features.
✅ VPNs: Make it a requirement that your remote workforce can only get network access if they are connected to your VPN.
✅ Multi-factor or two-factor authentication: This is a simple and (typically) free practice to secure your corporate network.
✅ Personal device policies: Work with your employees to develop security policies that cover their personal devices.
✅ Use a password manager: You can have your employees use a password manager which encrypts passwords, keeps them safe, and eliminates the need to remember very complex passwords.
✅ Educate your employees: Spend time training your remote team on your security protocols so that they can understand how to protect themselves and your sensitive data while working remotely.
Remote working security tips for remote workers
✅ Run software updates regularly: Software applications often release updates with special patches or enhanced features to protect against newly discovered cyberthreats. This includes keeping your antivirus software updated.
✅ Be aware of potential phishing attacks: Do not open suspicious emails or click on links unless you know they are legitimate. Never share your login credentials through email, instant message, or text message.
✅ Use strong passwords: Passwords like “1234” are easy to guess and can allow a hacker access to infiltrate business networks without much effort.
✅ Be careful when connecting to wireless networks: Unsecured networks, like the Wi-Fi at a coworking space, can make it easier for hackers to steal your login credentials and other information.
Protect Your Business with GoodAccess
A cloud business VPN—which has specifically been designed with remote access in mind—is by far one of the best investments you can make when it comes to remote work security.
Some reasons why GoodAccess is the best option for your business are:
➡️ You can get set up in three quick steps.
➡️ Enables you to create a resilient network with identity-based access control in just 10 minutes.
➡️ Our software is affordable and effective, with the best pricing on the market.
➡️ You do not need to add hardware or build your own infrastructure. Everything is done through the cloud.
➡️ Your data compliance responsibilities are completely taken care of.
By using GoodAccess, you are providing a way for your remote workforce to access your corporate resources safely by creating a secure tunnel where data gets encrypted.
This protects both your employees and your business from harmful security threats that could cripple your company altogether.
Start out with a free trial of GoodAccess, and let us show you why thousands of companies are choosing us to secure their remote teams.