Why Remote Workers Are Prone to Hacks

Author: 
Rilind Elezaj

When employees in a given organization work away from a physical office, the organization reaps tons of financial and administrative benefits. For example, workers become more productive because of the freedom that comes with remote working; bills such as furniture upgrade and electricity costs are significantly reduced; and the pool of talent from which an organization can hire from is no longer limited geographically. That explains why many organizations today are keen on hiring remote employees.

But even as you leverage these benefits, you need to be aware of the many risks that remote working precipitates. If a recent study from OpenVPN is anything to go by, about 36% of all organizations that are using remote workers today have suffered security breaches, one way or the other. This begs the question: Why are remote workers prone to hacks and what would be the best remedies for this? This post explores three probable reasons why this trend is gaining pace in recent times.

1. Security unpreparedness

With data thieves becoming wittier and more cunning by the day, employers are finding it hard to cope with the cybersecurity threat that remote working brings. Tons of data leaves the employer’s head office on a daily basis and is accessed by remote workers using their personal devices and public Wi-Fi networks. Under normal conditions, such data is protected by physical and electronic layers of security; every employee must be cleared first before accessing the data. Such high standards of cybersecurity are hard to enforce when you have people working from all corners of the globe.

So, how can you mitigate this risk?

Educating your remote workers about the importance of cybersecurity (and the dangers of the lack of it) would be a good place to start. Sensitize them to secure their browsing devices and to avoid unverified internet connections. If your budget allows, you can designate secured laptops to each worker and provide them with your approved security software or antivirus with clear instructions that they must only use that laptop to access confidential company files.

2. Unencrypted technology

Many employers are using outdated technology to share data with their remote employees, leaving them extremely vulnerable to data theft. It doesn’t matter how well you’ve encrypted tech devices in your office; your data will still be vulnerable if your remote access security is in jeopardy.

To conquer this security threat, you will need to setup a VPN to access your important company files remotely. You will need an expensive VPN server if you have a huge workforce but if you only have a few remote links, then you can setup your Virtual Private Network (VPN ) on Windows.

If you are wondering what is VPN; it is a network that allows remote computers to act as if they are directly connected with- and using the internet connection of- a centralized server. If you set up a VPN for your company, all the network traffic to and from your remote workers will be sent over an encrypted and secure connection to your VPN. The shared files on the network aren’t exposed directly to the Internet, neither can data thieves access information such as employee login details from a remote worker’s computer.

3. Unauthorized mixing up of personal and business data

Because remote workers work under minimal to zero supervision, some of them end up mixing up personal and business data and consequently expose vital information to hackers. Think of a case where a worker decides to use his designated work computer to download a pirated movie and, boom! A virus sneaks into the computer and starts mining data behind the scenes, undetected. You may not know how much you’ve been infiltrated even after discovering the malware, making the mitigation process even harder.

Is it possible to address this problem?

Well, this takes us back to the importance of sensitizing remote workers on why and how to be vigilant in practicing secure online behavior. But besides that, you may need a centralized data backup and recovery program where all remote workers send their data on a regular basis. If one of the laptops is infiltrated or stolen, you can easily destroy the data it contained because you already have backup.

Bottom Line

As technology continues to get deeply ingrained in business, we can only expect remote security concerns to increase. And because you need to develop a strong remote work culture for your company, you definitely should start rolling out stringent data security protocol for all your remote teams as early as today.

Rilind Elezaj is an experienced digital marketing specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry.