The Cybersecurity Risks of Remote Employees Working From Home

The Cybersecurity Risks of Remote Employees Working From Home

Posted on March 17, 2020 0 Comments

The latest news and lockdowns around the world may seem drastic to some managers, but the reality is that working from home is the future for all office workers.

For years, companies have been gravitating towards new policies on the acceptance of remote employees. In light of the recent news surrounding the novel coronavirus, many businesses realize that they may not have a choice regarding remote work.

The Challenge and Benefits of Remote Employees

There are many challenges to providing a business infrastructure that can support remote workers. Cybersecurity is, of course, on top of that list of problems. There is also the issue of stress on business VPNs and concerns over business continuity when a large percentage of employees are forced to work from home due to sickness or even natural disasters.

Then there are the benefits of working from home. Many employees, especially in the tech sector, have jobs that don’t require them to be in a specific physical location like an office all the time. Working from home is not for everyone, but there should be a choice. Long commutes and traffic congestion are a prominent symptom of forcing employees to go to the office. Shouldn’t we leave the roads more clear for those who are required to be somewhere, whether that be hospital workers or those in manufacturing? But I digress.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, is that there will be times that businesses will need to make sure employees can work from home securely and efficiently. Especially since we see many new laws regarding data protection. Remote employees can make data security that much more daunting to IT teams who are on the hook for data compliance.

Secure Collaboration and Staying Compliant

Peer to peer collaboration is even more crucial when employees are in isolation. IT teams will need to ensure that employees have the same tools and services available to them that they would have if they were in the office. Collaboration is business-critical. However, it does pose security risks that need to be mitigated. When remote work is happening, employees may choose to use their own apps or services to send and receive sensitive data. EFSS tools like Dropbox and Google Drive are of utmost concern for IT since they do not provide the proper insight into where sensitive data resides at rest and in motion.

Many companies are opting to use managed file transfer (MFT), such as Progress MOVEit, which gives IT the security controls necessary to stay compliant without hindering workflows or P2P collaboration. Email is always there, but with strict limits on the size of attachments to avoid overloading email servers, having managed file transfer in place allows your end-users to have other secure and compliant options if needed.

Another critical aspect of data security to consider is that just because employees opt to work from home doesn’t change the fact that you need to know where your business data is at any given point. You will need to provide audit logs and reporting to auditors to stay compliant. Reporting and tamper-evident logging have always been a requirement in the healthcare and finance industries. Still, with the enacting of the GDPR, CCPA, and other data protection laws around the world, this is cause for concern for businesses in all industries. Managed file transfer can also help with these regulatory requirements.

Authentication and Working From Home

Then there is authentication. Since many of the apps and services are now in the cloud rather than on-premise, employees can now work remotely without losing their ability to get their job done. Single sign-on (SSO) has been an excellent way for businesses to ensure proper authentication of remote employees. SSO allows employees to authenticate from their personal devices if they choose. 

In conclusion, an entire company working from home is a very stressful situation for IT, but with the right tools in place, some of those issues can be addressed, security being the most critical. With tools such as MFT providing multi-factor authentication, SSO functionality, tamper-evident logging, and automation, IT can enforce compliant data security practices while also enabling employees to collaborate efficiently.

Greg Mooney

Greg is a technologist and data geek with over 10 years in tech. He has worked in a variety of industries as an IT manager and software tester. Greg is an avid writer on everything IT related, from cyber security to troubleshooting.


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