Data breaches caused by cyberattacks were common before the pandemic began –– affecting over 25 percent of businesses with an average fraud loss of $38,000 ­­–– but when companies began sending workers home due to COVID-19, that risk increased exponentially. Let’s dig into why.

First, remote workers commonly access the internet through shared cable networks. Cable-based internet is akin to an old-fashioned party line on which residents within a certain area share the same telephone line. (This is why the internet slows down at certain parts of the day –– you know, when the neighbors’ kids are all in Zoom school and you’re trying to watch a webinar or stream that new Netflix show.) And while most internet users are innocent, there’s a high likelihood that there are hackers on the same network as you. This is very different than when you’re in the office and you have your own dedicated internet and a corporate network connected to each device. With distributed workforces, most people are sitting at home with a residential quality firewall on a shared network. Any hacker worth their salt can access those devices. Think about it this way: Hackers are already trying to get through businesses’ corporate firewalls. With remote workers on a shared cable network, it’s like opening your office door, pulling up a chair, and daring them to do their worst.

Think about it this way: Hackers are already trying to get through businesses’ corporate firewalls. With remote workers on a shared cable network, it’s like opening your office door, pulling up a chair, and daring them to do their worst.

Second, there’s a common misconception that if remote employees access files through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection, they’re safe. But what happens when they use that device for anything other than connecting to the company network? If connection to the internet is through a home quality firewall and the device is used for anything other than connecting to the company network through the VPN, the device is directly at risk. Even leaving the VPN to check last night’s football scores increases your risk. The bottom line: Most companies are still blissfully unaware of how unsafe their company data is when employees are on a cable modem (even with a VPN connection on a company device).

The bottom line: Most companies are still blissfully unaware of how unsafe their company data is when employees are on a cable modem (even with a VPN connection on a company device).

The good news is, there are many ways to use advanced technology to enhance your company’s security practices and keep your sensitive data safe.

1) The first step to securing your remote employees’ devices is engaging with a trusted partner to install a monitored antivirus system. This is different from downloading a standard antivirus software to a device. A monitored system means that a trained IT professional will be alerted every time the antivirus isn’t working, isn’t up to date, or there is an attempted breach –– meaning, every time there is even potential for a breach, your company receives an alert and the device is locked until the risk is neutralized.

2) Next, you must encrypt all data on company devices. Encryption, or translating data to an unbreakable code, guarantees that even if a file or device is compromised, the hackers won’t be able to translate it into anything that makes sense. Savvy, no?

Once you have these two steps in place, it’s important to have a system that tells you if your company devices are up-to-date with regular back-ups, data encryption, security patches, and antivirus software. This is an extra security step to make sure none of your security systems falter or are outdated. Normally, this is performed by an outside firm. (Psst, like us. Contact us now to get a free quote.)

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’ll be digging into even more ways protect your company from cyber-attacks. Follow along on our blog and attend our free webinar on Tuesday, March 23 at noon to get the information you need to avoid cyber threats.

Until then, if you’d like to speak to an expert, please feel free to schedule a free, no-pressure call. 

Sources:

https://www.business.com/articles/7-security-practices-for-your-business-data/

https://global.wf.com/hub_article/remote-workers-increase-the-risk-of-cyber-attacks-tm3252/#:~:text=The%20sudden%20shift%20to%20working,criminals%20are%20eager%20to%20exploit

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