When COVID first hit, the exodus of workers to home offices was one of the most dramatic solutions devised to try and keep people safer. Safer, that is, when it came to people’s health. The safety of cybersecurity infrastructures was another matter.
Months later, millions of people continue to work from home, connected to their company and processes via ephemeral electronic lines. It feels dangerous. But is it? How has this mass move to long-distance working affected the processes that companies previously had in place to keep cybersecurity tight?
Increased Focus on the Remote Worker
Working from home leaves workers vulnerable to cybercrime in a number of ways. They are, at least figuratively, disconnected from the people they work with. This leads to an increase in electronic communication between workers. This in turns leads to more unfamiliar emails and, possibly, compromising the integrity of a cybersecurity program by clicking on what looks like an official link. And if they use personal devices or shared networks, that can be a wide-open door for hackers to gain access.
When people were first instructed to work from home, some businesses were better prepared than others when it came to cybersecurity. They offered workers dedicated devices and secure networks on which they could work. They had IT and cybersecurity professionals available on speed-dial 24/7.
But others did not, at least, not right away. They underestimated the number and intensity of the attacks that hackers and scammers would make on workers outside the office.
And boy, did they! In March, the number of email scams jumped 667%. Ransomware attacks are up at least 72%. And malicious files with the word “zoom” in them increased 2000%.
Improving Insufficient Cybersecurity Protocols
Many businesses may have caught up with essential cybersecurity needs. However, they still may not be as well-prepared as they should be to handle the ever-evolving techniques of cybercriminals. This puts them on the cybersecurity defensive.
More prepared cybersecurity professionals prefer to take a more proactive approach. They aim to manage the added challenge of long-distance employees with increasingly sophisticated hacking approaches.
To do so, cybersecurity professionals should be prepared to:
- Continuously monitor their network
- Update their protections as needed
- Stay in the loop with what’s happening in cyberspace by confabbing with other cybersecurity professionals
- Make sure that, no matter where they are, other company employees are also doing their part to slow down cyber crime
Counteracting Instances of Human Error
Human error accounts for a very high proportion of cybersecurity slip-ups. That’s why, in addition to technological protections, many cybersecurity experts believe that one of the greatest ways to ensure cybersecurity is through continual cybersecurity training for employees.
Even before COVID, human errors were a primary cybersecurity threat. But with COVID, the number of errors appears to have increased. This trend is attributed in part to COVID fatigue, which tends to make people tired and unable to focus on things in general.
Ongoing training can help to counteract that fatigue by continually keeping cybersecurity in employees’ faces. Regular tutorials never give employees a chance to forget that they shouldn’t click on odd links in emails or wire funds to a suspicious-looking bank account.
Just how long remote working will continue en masse remains to be seen. But what we do know is that diligence and focus will always be needed when it comes to cybersecurity matters, no matter where employees are.
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