Guide to Cybersecurity in Remote Working Systems

The quick migration to remote work settings can be best compared with a defence force retreating to safer ground with scattered personnel in the face of the advancing epidemic. IT teams rushed to reestablish communication and reconnect workers to their respective organisations as companies began to learn the true meaning of business disruptions.

Solving problems and meeting tech demands in the early days of the Coronavirus crisis was burdensome to besieged IT functions, and most IT initiatives stalled, including cybersecurity.

Since then, organisations have been catching up on implementing practical security measures to safeguard remote work. As more organisations settle into long-term and permanent remote workstations, their IT functions have now shifted focus to what comes next.

What leaders need is a dual cybersecurity mentality. They must begin with securing remote work tech and address new risks resulting from digitisation, then anticipate the next normal and how they’ll run post-pandemic collaborations between personnel, clients, channel partners, supply chain, and industry peers.

Overview of the Cybersecurity Landscape in The New Cyber Normal

With more organisations allowing a significant fraction of their workforce – or the entire team – to work remotely, cybersecurity has become a major concern.

Cisco researchers recently conducted an eye-opening study dubbed The Future of Secure Remote Work, featuring 3,000 IT decision-makers in small and established entities globally. According to the survey, 85 per cent of those interviewed acknowledged that cybersecurity is extremely crucial or more crucial than before the Coronavirus situation.

This great emphasis on cybersecurity is a result of the recent upsurge of successful attacks. According to the report, 61 per cent of the respondents reported a 25% spike in cyber-alerts and threats since March 2020. This is a substantial number, consider the study was conducted just months after the first COVID-19 cases were reported.

Several key factors have brought about the risk implications in the new cyber normal, and organisations must pay attention to them as they redefine their cybersecurity risk programs. Here are the key factors that drive the risk environment of remote work structures:

Distracted Employees

Human error is a leading cause of successful attacks. In 2019, about 90 per cent of cyberattacks in the UK resulted from human error, and this was before the massive digital migration. Now that teams are working from home, workers are more vulnerable to social engineering tricks. If they’re less vigilant, the result could be a successful attack or breach.

Evolving Attack Surfaces

The migration to advanced teleworking processes and architectures may result in unnoticed vulnerability exploitation in your organisation’s remote work tech. UK and US organisations have been warned about cybercriminals who use the pandemic situation for their gain. Besides constant targets by criminals on organisations and individuals with malware, there are more risks when dealing with third parties and business partners. It’s even harder to verify vendor preparedness, from process outsourcing agencies to IT service providers and law firms.

Multi Stress Work Environments

Cybersecurity teams and professionals now operate in an extraordinary landscape with constantly arising emergencies that demand significant attention. Apart from the COVID-19 epidemic, organisations still have to push through stressful events and crises. The pandemic-related hurdles are the baseline for the foreseeable future.

Increased Successful Cyberattacks

The pandemic situation has brought with it soaring successful attacks as threat actors exploit vulnerable backdoors and human distraction into corporate systems. The banking and health sector are the most targeted as attackers flood staff inboxes with coronavirus-related phishing text messages trying to lure unsuspecting workers into malware execution.

Unexpected Staff Shortages

Teams are stretched thin as workers (including cybersecurity experts) go for sick leaves and breaks to care for dependents. This makes it even harder to respond to threats and attacks. Staff also have to juggle limited privacy, loneliness, isolation, and new homeschooling demands for their kids, making them less productive.

Preparing for The Next Phase

As they continue to address the pandemic, cybersecurity and IT leaders should evaluate how the above business conditions affect the organisation. To secure your organisation’s digital assets and create value, you must act on the following crucial areas.

New, Secure Work Approaches 

Organisations have substantially changed the way they work. To respond to the massive fundamental workflow transformations, you must consider securing your workforce using new working methods. Some of the crucial cybersecurity initiatives include:

  • Dynamic security solutions for business resources, assets, and users
  • Remote cybersecurity talent strategy and operating model
  • Workforce privacy involving staff consent
  • Cloud-based architecture and tools
  • People-centered defences to address fraud or any vulnerability resulting from staff anxiety

Secure Digital Environment for Customers

You must guarantee customer security as you shift to digital workflows. Your clients expect a seamless and secure digital experience that’s always available and offers more comprehensive choices. Pay attention to the following IT functions for the best results:

  • A frictionless and secure client experience across your mobile, web, and customer service channels
  • Privacy by design, encompassing controls on client data usage
  • Advanced analytics incorporating fraud controls and security
  • Scalable cybersecurity controls

Reevaluate Third Party and Supply Chain Risks

Organisations must reevaluate their third-party relationships and supply chain resilience when implementing new operation approaches. Here are the key recommendations:

  • Establish a broader assessment scope that reviews all potential third parties and vendors
  • Update your security controls to cover third parties’ remote operations
  • Secure your partner collaboration
  • Prepare for geopolitical hurdles with vital vendors

Maintain Increased Sector Collaboration

The final crucial facet of remote work cybersecurity involves strengthening your relationships with your industry sector, peers, and regulators. This will substantially simplify your shift to remote workspaces.

Apart from the four key focus areas above, it’s also essential to pay attention to the following remote work security best practices:

  • Keep your software updated
  • Always turn your VPN on
  • Create more secure passwords
  • Encrypt devices
  • Secure and lock devices
  • Use multi-factor authentication

The Bottom Line

Cybersecurity is a major concern in the new cyber normal. More companies are falling prey to threat actors, and even those with advanced security systems still end up breached due to human error. Staying ahead of the ever-advancing threat landscape isn’t as cut and dry, especially if your specialisation isn’t in IT.

Fortunately, Reliable Networks is your trusted IT partner with vast experience, dedicated cybersecurity experts, and advanced solutions to ensure a seamless migration to remote workspaces. Talk to us today if you have questions or to learn about our cybersecurity services.

Gregory Olczyk

Gregory Olczyk