Η remote work (work from home) is a way of working that allows employees to work outside the traditional office environment. The basic idea is that the work does not have to be done in one place to be successful.
In recent years, remote work has become more common, especially in the technology industry. However, since last year it has been the main way of working for most people around the world because of pandemic. Coronavirus has affected most countries and has created special conditions in all areas of everyday life.
In an effort to limit the spread of the virus, most companies have asked their employees to work from home, so that there are not too many people in the offices. In consultation with the company, employees can work remotely some or all days of the week.
This type of work has some advantages:
Initially, in most cases, there is a larger one flexibility. When employees are at home, they can steal some time and engage in other activities. Or they can use the time they would spend traveling to and from the office for other activities.
In addition, people are in their personal space, which automatically means that there is more άνεση, while research has shown that those who work from home feel less stress and often it is more productive.
But there are some disadvantages and the most important are related to cyber security.
Working from home has given criminals new opportunities to attack. With most projects running online and without the security provided in offices and corporate networks, employees and businesses are more vulnerable than ever.
Let's look at some of the key risks:
The first risk is related to insecure networks. In general, networks are one of the most important issues in cybersecurity. Employees can work using public Wifi or Wifi with weak security levels. This means that they access corporate accounts and gain access to sensitive data through insecure networks.
Because employees often share confidential information, hackers and malicious users in general may spy on and steal this data.
Companies usually have firewalls To monitor network traffic and prevent malicious activity, many people, however, do not have a firewall to protect their home network.
Use of personal devices
Most employees who work outside the office use their personal devices. Unlike corporate ones, which usually have many levels of security, Personal devices are vulnerable to viruses, malware, intrusions, etc..
Employees may not have taken care to protect their devices properly antivirus software, while it is possible to do not make system updates. Anyone working in cyber security knows the importance of regular software updates. On personal devices, however, it is difficult to monitor whether the latest software versions are installed or not.
Another problem with personal devices is that users use them for personal use. That is, they can use them to shop online, view their personal emails, watch movies and more.
Also, the same devices may used by other family members. This means that someone could accidentally delete important files or even worse infect the device with a virus, entering unsafe sites and doing various activities.
Finally, employees who leave the company can keep confidential information on their devices and sell it or share it with third parties. Especially in the event of dismissal, this is very likely because the former employee may want to take revenge on the employer.
Many employers have provided their employees with corporate devices, offering greater security to them and to the company itself, but research has shown that in both the United States and Europe, many employees still use their own devices.
Exchange of important data via Internet
Then another problem with remote work is the exchange of data via the Internet. In an office, employees typically use secure communication infrastructures to exchange important information or can talk to each other closely.
But when working from home are forced to use the internet to share information. This can be very dangerous, especially if employees use public networks, which can be easily compromised.
Finally, in addition to digital, there are physical threats that can jeopardize a company's data.
For example, an employee may is in a public place and speaks loudly for work-related issues. It may also have the screen exposed and a stranger spying on his activities.
These risks indicate that measures must be taken to enhance security.
Following some basic safety practices, organizations can protect their employees from threats and at the same time protect the companies themselves.
Let's look at some of these practices:
Specific remote work policy
First, it is important to have one specific work-from-home policy, which will give everything guidelines to be followed by employees. For example, it will give instructions on how they can access systems, information they may or may not share, and all the other details.
Implementing an appropriate policy can significantly reduce cyber security issues.
When remote workers know exactly the instructions, they are more likely to follow them and ensure that they meet the safety standards set for remote work.
Check the router settings
Once these things have been clarified, special attention must be paid to the network, which as we have said is one of the biggest risks. Employees need to be connected to one specific protected network.
Definitely a must avoid public Wifi, to which anyone has access.
However, attention is also needed in home network. Whether they work from home or not, users are good to change the default router password and yes control DNS settings.
Provision of corporate devices
Then, the provision of corporate devices, used exclusively for work, could also reduce potential safety issues. However, if personal devices are used, it must be ensured that they are used antivirus software and frequent updates. Thus, cyber criminals will not be able to exploit known vulnerabilities to access and infect the devices.
Encrypted devices and applications
The use of encrypted communication tools is extremely important for the security of employees and businesses. Home workers should always use encrypted communication devices and applications.
The company should suggest specific tools they offer secure communications.
In the context of secure communication and use of devices, the use of a VPN is included. VPN enables remote users to access a central organizational network.
Usually, it asks users for certification, and secures data with encryption technologies to prevent the dissemination of private information to unauthorized users.
Another useful safety practice that applies to all employees, remote and non-remote, is backup. Anything can happen in the data of a company and especially when someone works remotely.
A cyber criminal could break into the network and steal important data, or the device could be lost or stolen. Data theft is a major problem, but things can get a little better if the employee has backed up.
In many cases, the various attacks and violations are due to human error. Therefore, staff training is essential, to be able to recognize various threats, As the Phishing which is perhaps the most common threat to remote workers.
Useful information: Phishing emails: How to recognize them and how to protect yourself?
In the context of education it is important to give various device and network protection tips. It may even be necessary to require users to regularly update their systems, to apply two-factor authentication in their accounts, to use strong and unique passwords which they do not share with other users and others.
Although some things are taken for granted, companies should also give instructions for physical security, as it can be directly linked to cybersecurity. These instructions should remind employees that devices should never be left unattended, that working in a public place should be avoided and that confidential data transfer should be handled with care.
Such small actions make a big difference in terms of cyber security.
Working from home can still be a chore for many employees, so it must be done properly and safety must be taken into account, as is the case when people are at work.