Christopher Nicak of Kentucky is a technology industry entrepreneur with a focus on cybersecurity. In the following article, Chris Nicak discusses how working from home increases the risk of data breeches, and how businesses can prevent them.
Flexibility increases, productivity improvements, and enhanced work-life balance is the hallmark of the pandemic-sparked work from home (WFH) movement. However, it’s highlighted an important issue for businesses — the increased cybersecurity risk.
Nicak explains that companies around the world are realizing they must take steps toward advanced security measures to protect their employees and data.
The Impact of Remote Work on Cybersecurity
Numerous digital security specialists state that remote work environments increase the risk of data breaches and other cyber attacks due to the increased surface requiring protection. The changes in work practices combined with larger public cloud usage, connected supply chains, and cyber-physical systems are exposing vulnerabilities left right and center.
Christopher Nicak says that even the workers themselves expand such risks. By following the worst cybersecurity practices and buying unsanctioned technology, employees can be the ones allowing threat actors through networks.
Moreover, the traditional defenses adopted by companies to protect information are no longer useful. Employees have moved from the physical “hub” of the company, where perimeter security measures aren’t helping them stay safe.
Christopher Nicak also notes that organizations that have spent the last three decades concocting impenetrable barriers now need to shift their focuses to limit the major risks presented by at-home workforces.
Most Common WFH Cybersecurity Risks
Remote-work-related cybersecurity risks are plentiful. But the most common include:
Phishing isn’t new, but it remains one of the most devastating cyber threats to remote employees.
Christopher Nicak explains that they involve an entity or individual masquerading as a reliable, legitimate source to fool individuals into readily offering private login details or confidential information. Upon receiving the details, scammers then break into accounts, conduct identity fraud, steal more private data, and other company-ruining activities.
Such emails have grown incredibly sophisticated, so much so that it’s becoming harder for employees to spot them, especially when they bypass spam filters.
Public Cloud Misconfigurations
Christopher Nicak of Kentucky says that remote work couldn’t exist without the cloud. However, the risks must be acknowledged to secure company data. And misconfiguration is one of the most prominent risks with this technology.
Organizations may unknowingly provider uses with too much access or fail to adopt effective access controls.
The 2022 Cloud Security Report published by Check Point Software Technologies showed that over 25% of the surveyed security professionals said their companies had a security incident relating to public cloud infrastructure over the past 12 months, with misconfigurations being the main cause explains Christopher Nicak of Kentucky.
VPNs and firewalls work wonders to protect remote employees. However, it won’t negate the common human error of utilizing weak passwords.
Cybercriminals are notorious for exploiting human error. After all, it’s easier than trying to battle past advanced measures.
Christopher Nicak of Kentucky says that alongside weak passwords, repeated passwords are another area often exploited by cybercriminals. Workers utilizing the same password across multiple accounts are more likely to become victims of breaches.
The nature of remote work boosts the likelihood of employees using vulnerable networks (i.e., public WiFi). Home networks are also prone to attacks since people don’t have the expertise to secure their environment.
Security Staff Shortages
Christopher Nicak of Kentucky reports that organizations suffering staffing challenges experience delays in sufficiently securing remote employees. In a 2022 study, 60% of the 1,223 surveyed firms said they struggle to recruit cybersecurity talent, with 52% having difficulty retaining their security-savvy team members.
Preventing Remote Workforce’s Cybersecurity Risks
Considering the common (and potentially devastating) risks of remote workforces, companies should work to adopt advanced methods to prevent breaches and other attacks from surfacing.
Christopher Nicak of Kentucky also suggests that employee training on recognizing phishing emails and the risks of utilizing unsecured networks is one of the best lines of defense. Human error causes a surprisingly large percentage of data breaches, which can be diminished by offering adequate training to off-site staff.
Furthermore, enforcing zero trust network access (ZTNA) comes in handy. The strategy assumes each connection is malicious until proven otherwise. Thus, nothing outside or inside the network can gain access without authentication and verification.
By following the best prevention tactics, organizations can reduce the serious risk to company data of the relatively new remote workforce, keeping employee information and other sensitive data safe.