Remote working and data protection have become hot topics since the beginning of the 2020 outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19.

Restaurants, department stores, movie theaters, and travel agencies have all stopped working until further notice. Most businesses that can still work are forced to have their employees work from home.

Huge corporations like JPMorgan, Twitter, Shopify, and Google have all been testing out remote work policies during this period. While most organizations have been able to adapt rather quickly, some factors have been disrupting the entire process.

We are, of course, talking about cyber-attacks.

What are the Potential Threats to Your Cybersecurity?

Although you’d think that cyber-attacks have slowed down since the outbreak started, you’d be wrong. New evidence shows that hackers are now praying on people’s fears and trying to take advantage of remote workers. This is problematic for several reasons.

It’s estimated that an average employee has access to more than 17 million sensitive files. If an employee manages to lose their credentials, they can give cyber criminals access to all of that data. Let’s see some of the tactics criminals use to steal data from employees during the time of the crisis.

1. Malicious Apps

Apps have been huge for more than a decade at this point. Apple’s App Store alone has more than 500 users weekly. Not surprisingly, hackers have been creating malicious mobile apps and deploying them to all of the app stores. As always, Android users are targeted at a higher level than iOS users.  

2. Phishing Emails

For the last two months, cybercriminals from all over the world have been sending emails mimicking trusted information sources like the WHO and CDC. Their goal is to trick email recipients into clicking the link or open the attachment contained in the email and to infect their device with malware.   

3. Fake Websites

As expected, people are constantly looking up coronavirus-related information, hoping that the pandemic will slow down. Cyber attackers have used this situation to create fake crisis websites and interactive maps that lead to ID theft, sensitive data leaks, and ransomware.

4. Ransomware

Ever since the pandemic started, hackers have been targeting members of various organizations with ransomware. Most noticeably, medical organizations have been hit with ransomware attacks. Despite what the movies tell us, there’s no honor among thieves and everyone is a potential target at all times.

5 Ways to Protect Your Remote Work Force Against Cyber Attacks

The biggest question on everyone’s mind is, what can you do to protect remote workers from cybercriminals? The biggest problem is, most companies don’t have any plans to prevent cyber-attacks from happening. IBM estimates that 77% of companies don’t have any security plans in place.

To ensure your employees’ new work environment is completely secure, you need to make sure to follow these five security standards.

1. Strengthen Your VPN Infrastructure

Now is the right time to implement a VPN infrastructure if you already don’t have one. Companies eBay and Cisco Systems have provided their workers with PCs to try and implement an infrastructure that will give them access to internal tools.  

2. Manage Employee Access

Keeping things safe sometimes means limiting the access of certain employees. Not all workers need to have access to all of the sensitive files you have in your database. When they need access, conduct a security check, and give them limited access for a certain amount of time.

3. Keep the Systems Updated

One of the most important things you can do is ensure that all of your employees have their systems updated. Security experts recommend that you should patch your work station at least every 30 days. This goes for operating systems, security software, as well as browsers.

4. Administer Authentication

Since your employees aren’t in the office, it’s even more important for managers to see if they’re who they say they are. For that reason, you should have multi-factor authentication in place. If possible use biometrics to identify your workers before giving them access to your system.

5. Educate Employees on Phishing

Your employees need to be aware of the common phishing techniques criminals use to steal business data. They should know to seek out data from well-known sites, ignore suspicious emails, etc. That way, they’ll be able to recognize high-risk content and will be more careful when dealing with it.

Signs That You Might be Experiencing a Security Breach

The biggest problem with data breaches is that they’re discovered too late. It takes more than 200 days to notice an average data breach. What’s worse, data breaches are often discovered by people outside of the company. Verizon Business estimates that 70% of all data breaches are discovered by third parties.

When your employees are working from home, detecting a data breach may take even more time. Luckily, their certain indications of a data breach that can help you detect it in a few days.

1. Strange Account Activities

When a cybercriminal gains access to your database, they will start nosing around. Monitoring your system for suspicious activities can help you detect a breach within hours.

2. Suspicious Files Being Dropped

Criminals sometimes drop dormant pieces of malware that remain dormant for a few days or weeks before infecting the system. Look for suspicious files and if you find any, analyze them right away.

3. Geo-location Anomalies

Even if you have employees all over the globe, you still know where they’re located. When you start noticing login attempts from unusual locations, it’s time to increase security measures.

What to Do Next

Remote working and data protection will continue to be a hotly debated issue for the foreseeable future. But now you know what to look out for and how to prepare.

Remote workers now have a presence in numerous industries. Some 50 million people now work at least a few hours from home every month, in the US alone. Even after the coronavirus outbreak is over, this trend will continue. That’s why you need to make sure that your company stays protected.

Building an internal infrastructure and keep protective measures at a high level isn’t easy, so you may have to look for outside help from a software company such as CoderTalent. We have 20 years of experience collectively, and a team of hand-picked software engineers can help you stay safe. 

Let us help you fill the gaps in your in-house team and provide you with the level of expertise you need to solve any challenges pertaining to remote working and data protection.

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