Cyber risks and threats of remote work

The recent explosion of remote work, that accelerated the digital transformation of many organizations, also brought new cyber risks and threats. As consequence, we are witnessing a significant increase in ransomware, data breaches and other cyber-attacks.

In this context, is your company secure?

 

To help answering this question, we are launching a special collection of articles to highlight remote work cyber risks and threats and present the best strategies to mitigate them. This is the first one and it’s focuses on the key cyber risks that your business on remote work is exposed, and why you must protect against them.

Several companies started adopting remote work and new ways of working some time ago. However, the vast majority, just now and very quickly and naturally without much planning, are trying to make this transformation.

 

At this fast pace, it is easy to underestimate the importance of some aspects, and cybersecurity is one of them. But for your company’s future, don’t!

 

In a remote work environment, your company’s traditional perimeter tends to disappear and new points and attack surfaces emerge:

 

  • Digital collaboration tools: accessible from anywhere, these tools make it easy to access and share corporate data. However, a simple mistake by just one employee can silently lead to the improper sharing of a lot of confidential information;

 

  • Business applications: access to business applications is mainly done within the controlled environment of the offices, and therefore, security mechanisms are designed to protect mainly against external threats. In remote work, more applications are accessible remotely and traditional security controls have limited effectiveness, making it easier to exploit potential application vulnerabilities;

 

  • Authentication and Authorization: the username and password are the most used means of authentication, but also a relatively weak mechanism and very prone to simple attacks. In a remote environment, weak passwords and stolen credentials are much easier to exploit, as there are limited controls over who is actually accessing your data and applications;

 

  • Software updates: the main cause of systems compromise is the lack of software updates to mitigate known vulnerabilities. In a remote work environment, it becomes more challenging to impose software updates, and many systems and PCs can go a long time without installing critical software patches;

 

  • Personal PCs and other devices: the use of personal equipment to access corporate applications and data in remote work has skyrocketed. These devices do not have the same enterprise-level security controls, so they are easier to compromise and an open door to attackers.

 

With all these new attack points, there is a huge increase in malicious activities and cyber incidents, from non-targeted attacks that search the internet for vulnerable systems and PCs, to tailored and targeted attacks aimed at compromising specific companies.

 

In particular, ransomware is booming, exploiting known vulnerabilities in systems connected to the internet, such as PCs and other remote workers’ devices, and then compromising corporate systems. Ransomware attacks rapidly expand between systems and PCs linked together, and encrypt systems and data, making them unusable, unless a ransom is paid. Victims of such incidents see their operation partially or totally compromised, depending on the state of the latest backups.

 

In remote work, any PC or equipment, corporate or personal, that connects to the corporate environment is a possible entry point for an attack on your company!

 

In this context, and at a time when remote work is a necessity for most companies, we hope that this article has contributed to the awareness of the importance of cybersecurity in the implementation of remote work.

 

Stay tuned for upcoming articles in our special collection of articles on cybersecurity for remote work and be notified of new specialized content by sending us your email in the form below.

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