Approximately 60% of Americans work from home all or most of the time. While many employees prefer to work remotely to experience an improved work-life balance, remote work is not without its challenges. One of the most significant threats to remote work is that of cybercriminals.
Organizations of all sizes are at an increased risk of experiencing a data breach when workers are accessing sensitive data and networks via their own devices. Even small and medium-sized companies face a significant risk by having remote employees, with 43% of cyberattacks targeting small businesses. However, only 14% of companies have taken adequate cybersecurity measures.
As remote and hybrid work models come to dominate the corporate landscape, both large and small organizations must understand the loss that a cyberattack can incur if there are insufficient preventative measures in place. Let’s discuss the implications of a cyberattack for remote workers and how your organization can work to circumvent cybercriminals.
What Are the Implications of Cyberattacks on Remote Workers?
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued a warning which states that all U.S. businesses should remain aware of the drastic increase in phishing and social engineering scams since the pandemic began. If your organization has employees that work from home all the time, or even a few days of the week, your entire company is at risk of a costly data breach. Cybersecurity experts have noted a 500% increase in cyberattacks affecting remote employees since the onset of COVID-19 and the uptick in remote work models.
Phishing attacks are a method of extracting data from a company by sending fraudulent emails that may appear reputable. Cybercriminals send these phishing attacks via mass email that requests confidential information or includes malicious malware. In addition, cybercriminals may also pose as business associates and convince employees to send them money, data, or other highly confidential information. Remote workers may be particularly vulnerable to these attacks, as their interpersonal communications rely on online channels and may mask messages that would seem odd in an in-office setting.
If your staff doesn’t know how to identify a phishing attack, it could cost your company a significant amount of money. Current research shows that phishing attacks have quadrupled in the past six years, and large U.S. companies lose an average of $14.8 million annually.
The costs of mitigating a data breach are not the only issues that a cyberattack can cause for an organization. A cyberattack on the remote workforce drastically decreases productivity and compromises your company’s reputation. Employee work can be directly affected by a cyberattack; as routine, IT support is disrupted while IT staff determine what caused the attack and address vulnerabilities in your organization’s system. As these changes occur, employees may be unable to complete routine tasks and may find their workflows impacted by hasty protective measures applied to forestall further damage to the network.
Along with the loss of productivity comes extensive reputation damage. Clients and partners rely on organizations to safeguard their sensitive information, whether that comes in the form of financial transactions, medical records, or personally identifiable information (PII) like social security numbers. News of a data leak can undermine public trust and make them hesitant to work with your brand in the future.
Although some organizations attempt to prevent this by concealing the instance of a cyberattack, this can quickly backfire. If and when the incident is eventually exposed, when clients and customers learn that your organization attempted to hide the cyberattack, it can further damage your reputation and diminish credibility. When clients, consumers, and employees trust your organization with highly sensitive information, it’s not only your responsibility to ensure that remote workers are taking every measure necessary to handle this information safely but to respond with swiftness and integrity if a breach occurs.
How Can Your Company Stay Prepared?
While companies cannot prevent their organizations from being targeted by cybercriminals, they can deter cyberattackers from accessing highly sensitive information. This can be accomplished by implementing controlled access to information, adequate employee training, and cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions.
When organizations control who can access their systems and applications, it ensures that employees can safely complete their tasks. Essentially, this entails segmenting permissions to certain systems and blocking websites and apps that appear malicious. In terms of modern technology, even basic access control goes far beyond password security. Systems should now utilize additional measures such as two-factor authentication to meet a bare minimum of data defense.
Cybersecurity training is crucial in a remote work environment. However, surveys reveal that about 73% of workers have yet to receive training from their employers. To ensure data assets are being accessed appropriately, employees must undergo extensive training detailing your company’s policies for cybersecurity. The training should also educate employees regarding current cyberattack tactics and employee responsibilities to prevent a cyberattack.
Many employers overestimate their ability to mitigate a cyberattack, and cybercriminals are keenly aware of this. Training employees about using cybersecurity software and preventing an attack decreases the likelihood that your organization’s data will be compromised.
Implement Advanced Security Solutions
When weighing your options for protection against cyberattacks, you must ensure that you are using innovative software that has been proven to prevent cybercriminals from accessing data. Modern data protection solutions, such as those provided by Sertainty UXP, are ideal for remote workers.
Many traditional security systems function by forming a perimeter around the data and preventing criminals from accessing the data. However, this presents two challenges in a remote work environment. Firstly, perimeter-based measures like typical firewalls cease to safeguard data once a breach has occurred, leaving your company’s data exposed and vulnerable. Secondly, some firewalls make it difficult for remote workers to access necessary information, delaying our outright disrupting their essential tasks.
In the evolving, work-anywhere corporate environment, a new approach is required. Sertainty UXP differs from other solutions because this software ensures that your organization’s sensitive data is self-aware and self-protecting. With Sertainty UXP, the data owner can set rules and permissions that allow authorized personnel to access them anytime and anywhere. However, the data itself will immediately know if someone is attempting to access files at an unauthorized place or time and will prevent them from proceeding. Even if a breach occurs, data files are empowered to limit other access across the network and, if necessary, self-destruct before damage is done.
For businesses with a remote or hybrid work model, the intelligence built into self-protecting data is the best option to allow a seamless workflow while protecting employees, clients, and the business itself from the effects of a data breach.
Protect Your Remote Systems with Sertainty
Information is the most valuable asset of any business. With Sertainty, organizations of all sizes can rest assured that their data privacy is specific, provable, and manageable by building privacy intelligence directly into their data. The Sertainty data privacy platform empowers data to defend, govern, and track itself, so privacy isn’t lost when the traditional measures of application, network, and infrastructure security fails.
Data breaches are inevitable. But with Sertainty, privacy loss doesn’t have to be.