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The COVID-19 pandemic drove a massive increase in remote work.  Post-pandemic, many organizations are planning to continue to support a remote workforce.  However, the telework infrastructure that many companies put in place during the pandemic is not enough to maintain a secure remote workforce in the long term.

Remote Work Introduces New Security Risks

Employees working remotely have all of the same security risks as on-site employees.  However, their unique work situation also creates new cybersecurity risks.  These are some of the biggest cyber threats that a company faces when they choose to support remote work without the appropriate cyber defenses.

1.     Compromised Accounts

With remote work comes the need for secure remote access.  Employees working from home need to be able to log into the company network or access their cloud-based email remotely.  This means that companies need to make these services publicly accessible.

During the pandemic, the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) and the remote desktop protocol (RDP) skyrocketed, and cybercriminals noticed.  Password security was already a problem for most companies, and the ability to log into a company’s network with a guessed or breached password and install malware was too good to resist.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, RDP and VPNs became the primary means by which ransomware was delivered to company networks.

2.     Infected Computers

When working from the office, employees’ computers were relatively well protected against cyberattacks.  Most companies have a firewall in place and potentially other cybersecurity solutions protecting the company network.

With remote work, employees are working from devices that are located outside of these secure perimeters.  With the increased use of personal devices for work, they’re also accessing company data and systems with computers that may not be running antivirus or have the latest updates installed.  This makes it much easier for cybercriminals to infect these devices with malware, providing access to corporate data and potentially access to the company network via the employee’s VPN connection.

3.     Lost and Stolen Devices

During the pandemic, no one wanted to work from a coffee shop or other public place.  However, this is going to change.  In the long run, allowing telework means that there is a good chance that a laptop or mobile device will be swiped from a coffee shop table or lost on the subway.

With the growth of remote work, the number of data breaches caused by lost and stolen devices is likely to increase.  Any device with access to company data that is not managed by the organization is a potential data breach waiting to happen.

Managing the Cybersecurity Risks of Telework

Allowing remote work can be beneficial for both your company and your employees.  Paying less for office space and having access to a wider talent pool can pay huge dividends for the business.  After having a taste of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees find that they liked the flexibility and are less than enthusiastic about returning to the office.

However, when designing a telework program, it is important to consider the security side as well. Remote work brings with it a number of security risks that companies need to be aware of and address. Kinetix can help with this. Our Security Essentials program ensures that companies have the necessary tools and processes in place to support a secure, efficient remote work program. Contact us today to learn how we can help your team!