The security breach is an obvious consequence with the expanding Digitalization. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, many organizations were having employees stationed at various parts of the world, far away from the employer’s premises. Remote working or work from home is not a new concept. It has been in practice since the inception of the Internet and Globalization. While many organizations are already accustomed to the process of remote working, to some of them the concept is new. While some are well prepared with the required technical intelligence, some are still struggling. To the companies who are not so well acquainted with remote working, the COVID-19 or Coronavirus has come as a massive blow. The pandemic has triggered the waves of uncertainty to raise newer heights. The companies have understood the importance of flexibility and adaptability amid this pandemic.
When employees are working outside the office premises, in their homes or coffee shops, using personal or public wifi, chances of security breach rise exponentially. The Internet explosion has made it simple for us to carry out our daily professional duties from the comfort of our couch. On one hand, this mode of work can be beneficial for checking the transmission of the deadly virus. On the other hand, this remote working can be potent security threats, to our personal and also official data. The system is more prone to encounter a security breach, hacking sensitive information. Let us have a look towards some of the possible security breaches.
- Phishing attacks: Hackers can inject malware via seemingly legitimate links, attachments and spam emails. With just one click on these attachments or links, hackers can get easy access in your device. They can get hold of the sensitive data about the company, and everything present in your device. Phishing scams are one of the deadliest attacks under the Cybersecurity breach. According to Senior Vice President of McAfee, Steve Grobman, “McAfee has detected thousands of covid-19-themed spam emails and websites scamming victims seeking to purchase medical supplies such as testing kits, face masks and other protective gear. Over the first 13 weeks of the pandemic, McAfee saw the number of bogus websites increase from 1,600 a few weeks ago to over 39,000.”
- Weak Home Wifi Security: The technical facilities available in the offices, are not there at home. The wifi connections at offices are much more protected and stronger. Thus making it difficult for hackers to encroach in the network. But, at home, the situation is not that simple. The home Wifi, generally, has weaker protocols, helping the hackers to get easy access. In case, you are working on your personal device, then obtaining the data security can be more challenging. The home wifi is used by all the members of the family, and if one member has clicked a malicious link, then the security is breached. “Remote employees are not trained on data privacy regulation and risk exposing sensitive information to a data breach. Without proper IT asset management, there are major dangers that must be mitigated.”
- Passwords easy to hack: Hackers are very strong programmers. They can hack weak passwords easily to gain access in any device, be it your personal laptop or that of office. There are many people who use the same password for various sites, for the ease of remembering. But doing so can be very harmful. The hacker can obtain unauthorized access to several sites within a very short period of time. It is advisable to keep a strong password and have a different password for different sites. Many employees reuse home passwords across multiple sites, and that is surely malpractice. In 2012, the Dropbox breach was caused because one employee was reusing the password, and that lead to the leaking of sensitive data of 68 million users, sold and stolen to the dark web. “Recent analysis by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the UK found that Millions of people are using passwords on sensitive accounts that are easy to guess. The analysis also includes breached accounts and found that ‘123456’ is the most widely used password. Which is not far off from default passwords on many payment terminals at ‘1234’.”
There are innumerable ways in which hackers can get access easily. We, may not be aware of all the ways that a hacker can use, but what we can do is take certain steps. While working remotely, employees must take precautions for preventing the security breach.
- Use Strong Passwords: As mentioned above, using strong passwords and avoiding reusing passwords can prevent a security breach. The hackers use the leaked username and password to extract information from all other sites, this process is known as credential stuffing. The passwords must be starkly different from the ones used in other sites. The passwords must be a mixture of upper case, lower case, numbers, special characters etc. To manage the varieties of passwords used in innumerable sites, there are tools like password managers. You can also create a 2 step verification method that can be an extra layer of protection. Setting a message or email confirmation, or biometric method like facial recognition can help you to prevent a security breach.
- Using a VPN to prevent security breach: The employees use Virtual Private Network to enhance online privacy. A VPN can encrypt the data under your internet traffic so that no one can read it. A VPN even restricts your sensitive data from hackers, Internet Service Provider (ISP), or government agencies. VPN has got a minor drawback, that is, it can slow down your internet speed. In case you need to participate in a video conference, teleconference, then select a VPN with high bandwidth. “When you use a virtual private network, in essence, you are using a proxy to make requests on your behalf. With a “privacy focused” VPN, your connection to the proxy is encrypted which makes it impossible for someone snooping on your traffic to determine what kind of messages you’re exchanging with the VPN server. Typically, the VPN server’s role is to make web requests on your behalf, instead of having you make them directly.”
- Work using your official laptops: It is advisable to work using your official laptops or desktops. The organizations have their own IT teams who install strong antivirus, VPN, update regularly etc, and all these processes are transparent to you. Using the work laptops is safer as they have the required precautions to block hackers and virus. This provision will not be there with personal laptops. You might feel like checking the emails at the end of the day, from your mobile or personal laptop. But, that one step can cause a massive security breach. Adding your personal devices into the corporate network is a violation of the company protocols and policies. Your personal laptop or desktop can be hacked easily as it has got the protection that is enabled in your official devices.
- Enable Device Protection: The majority of malware or viruses that can infect the devices come from the web or internet services. Being a compliant employee of the organization, you must not open your personal emails and browse websites for personal use on your official devices, be it a laptop, desktop or tablets. Organizations invest a fortune in technical development, providing the employees with needed infrastructure and efficient IT services at home. The remote workers must ensure that the applications or software that they are suing must have latest updates. The regular automatic updates should be enabled in the devices that are used by the remote workers.
- Essential Employee Awareness: Besides abiding by all the necessary protocols and incorporating all the technical protocols, the organizations must focus on employee awareness. Most of the times, it is seen that the employees are not aware of the nitty-gritty of the security breach. They are unaware of the precautions that must be taken and the dangers of the breach. The companies must train their employees about the concepts pertaining to corporate security. The remote workers must pay close attention and check whether the software and apps are updated, whether the VPN is used efficiently. Privacy tools and browser add-ons must be updated regularly. During security breach or malware attack or virus, the entire contents present in the device can be erased. So, having a back up of the data is crucial. The remote workers must backup the data regularly for avoiding any data loss.
During the pandemic outbreak, remote working has become a mandatory working. All the important business operations are being carried out remotely, by the employees. In such a scenario, the risks of the security breach have increased by many folds. It has been observed that “an 81% increase in “unapproved” online file sharing on major sites like Google Docs and Dropbox, and a 14% decrease in Microsoft Office usage, despite most organizations reporting an increase in overall user internet activity, further indicating that employees are bypassing their organization’s security protocols. This experience is reflected across the private and public sectors alike.”
Potent security breach and cyber fraud can take place when there is a lack of employee awareness and data protection. The above steps can help you to avoid security breach and protect the sensitive corporate information from being leaked to the hackers into the dark web. Several steps can be taken, and if you are wondering where to get the right advice, you can consult with our experts. At Vedak, we have an exclusive community of pre-vetted expert professionals hailing from 20+ industries. Reach us today to know about industry best practices, changing market landscape, profitable investment options and many more.