Remote working is not a new trend when it comes to the working patterns of modern employees and companies. And it is a mistake to think that its meteoric rise is due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it is the sheer efficiency and flexibility that remote working offers that has seen it become widespread. If anything, COVID-19 has only accelerated its progress. We have been living in the remote working world for some time now – and we are not going back.
But as the prevalence of remote working only increases, it hasn’t been an entirely smooth journey. Remote working has had to overcome a series of challenges in order to become viable across the many and diverse sectors where it is now the norm. Some of these barriers have been a matter of efficiency—specifically the efficiency of communication—but with telecommunication technology now where it is, it could finally be safe to say that these have been overcome. Video conferencing, instant messaging, and online working platforms are now more than wieldy enough to solve all the problems that used to be an issue in that area. But what about cyber security? Sure, remote working throws up new challenges here, not all of which are entirely worked out.
Kenneth Okereafor & Phil Manny wrote in their article that Despite their (WFH – work from home systems) numerous benefits, telecommuting and video conferencing systems have
inherent vulnerabilities which cybercriminals and internet spammers take advantage off to
Possible remote working attacks
The possibility for anyone to take advantage of the publicly advertised session login and join a zoom meeting, then begin to post improper content or use other types of offensive attack such as cyber bullying to interrupt the session is a vulnerability in the zoom app.
The attacker’s goal with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) is to interrupt the whole teleconferencing session by purposefully overwhelming the system with unneeded traffic to the point where it can no longer cope, resulting in a malfunction, a breakdown, or frequent reboots. A DDoS has a detrimental influence on system performance and might cause participant irritation.
Remote Working and Cyber Security
There is no doubt that, with the rise of remote working, certain cyber security threats have become more prevalent than before. Others pose more or less the same level of danger that they did before, but now require new solutions. With the increased use of apps—especially for mobile technologies that are now more important than ever before—API security is a vital concern. Just as API security for microservices and open banking are an issue because they connect disparate users over different networks, so too are all the old cyber security threats that would have previously affected a company’s office digital infrastructure.
Remote work necessitates the transfer of a large amount of potentially sensitive data across vast geographical spaces and different networks. That there could be many potential threats here is obvious.
Cybersecurity Tips for Remote Workers
Here then follow a handful of tips that can help combat the new threats that remote working has given rise to:
At home, use antivirus and internet security software.
This is something that cannot be left to the discretion of each individual employee. Antivirus and internet security software are essential investments for a company managing a team of remote workers. It is perfectly possible to purchase a package that can be used by each employee connected to the system.
Separate Work Devices from Personal Devices
This is something that is the responsibility of each individual employee. However, it can be made company policy as well. Employees working remotely should have distinct devices for this purpose or, at the very least, distinct accounts on devices specifically for working. These should then be sharply distinguished from any devices or accounts that are used recreationally or by other members of a particular household.
The value of VPNs where cyber security is concerned is that they can create a network devoted solely to work, keeping the transfer of sensitive data strictly to this network. There should be a company VPN for remote workers. However, that alone is not enough. They should also be made more secure by whatever methods are appropriate at the time. VPNs themselves are susceptible to being hacked, so a company should have a distinct cyber security policy for this too.
Ultimately, remote working gives rise to all sorts of new opportunities for employee efficiency. But there are risks too. These simply need to be accounted for.