Preventing Cyberattacks on Remote Employees
The pandemic solidified remote work as a new operational standard. While exciting in many ways, remote work also comes with unique challenges—namely, cybersecurity. This article discusses some cybersecurity risks that remote employees face and offers potential solutions.
Cyber Threats to Monitor
Hackers have been assaulting businesses since the first computer was invented. Depending on the organization’s size, it may receive dozens or thousands of hacking attempts daily. IT security teams and firewalls typically defeat these attempts. However, those protections aren’t as guaranteed with employees working from home. Here are some of the common cyber threats:
- Phishing and vishing: Phishing is an attempt to gain personal information, such as computer passwords, Social Security numbers or other data. Hackers and scammers will impersonate a legitimate company and send fake emails to solicit this information, typically with a phony threat.
- Vishing, or voice phishing: This is when a scammer spoofs a legitimate phone number (from within the organization or otherwise) and poses as an IT help desk, using that alias to solicit personal information. These calls may even be routed to personal cell phones, making it harder for organizations to catch. Vishing attempts are increasingly prevalent.
- Malware: Malware is a computer virus typically disguised as an innocuous program, email attachment or link. These viruses infect computers and can do any number of tasks, normally hidden from the user. For instance, they might store password data, track website activity or download personal files.
- Brute force attacks: Brute force attacks are when hackers try logging into someone’s account many, many times. These attempts work most often when individuals reuse usernames and passwords across different accounts. A hacker may expose the information to one account, then use those credentials to access other accounts and information.
Cyber threats are made worse when employees work from home, especially if they conduct business on personal devices or don’t connect to a secure network. It’s essential for employers to address these threats proactively.
Protecting Remote Employees from Cyber Threats
There is no single solution to avoiding all types of cyberattacks. But there are vital steps organizations can take to protect their employees and critical data. Below are four.
1. Behavioral analytics tracking software: This software monitors each individual’s computer habits. Since hackers can impersonate an employee, it’s hard to detect when someone’s credentials have been compromised. With analytics tracking software, the program would be able to spot when a user is displaying abnormal computer usage.
2. Automated threat detection software: This software is like antivirus programs found on many computers by default. It can scan files and detect malicious programs automatically. Automated threat detection software often pairs with other efforts, such as behavioral analytics.
3. Comprehensive work-from-home guidelines: Using personal devices to conduct business is an easy way to compromise usernames and passwords. Employers should set clear guidelines regarding acceptable technology (often a work-provided laptop) and work locations. For instance, cafes may be offlimits because they often have unsecured networks.
4. Employee education: Education and training are perhaps the best protections against cyber threats. Employees should know basic cybersecurity tactics, such as how to spot a phishing email, recognize a scam caller, and report a potential security breach. They should also be instructed not to reuse login credentials, especially between work and personal accounts.
As the business world becomes more connected, cyber threats will become more sophisticated. Educate employees to better protect your organization.
To discuss your risk management and insurance needs, contact Jack Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org), Market President, Hylant–Detroit.