Cybersecurity for Remote Work
The Global Pandemic has altered life around us in every way possible, one such way being remote working. Although some people have been working from home for a while now, most businesses and corporations would be hesitant to allow that before COVID-19 due to concerns related to cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity or Information Technology security refers to the practices that allow for the protection of electronic devices, most commonly computers, against information disclosure, data theft, corruption of files, and unauthorized access. Many businesses and individuals feared the possibility of data breaches, phishing scams, and ransom ware; however, a surprising news report that “the number of data breaches decreased during the first nine months of the year”. This only points towards one thing and that is an improvement in cybersecurity overall. The Identity Theft Resource Center reported a 30% decrease in data breaches in 2020 and a 60% drop in the number of identities that have been affected compared to 2019. The part most people were and still are worried about tough is the increase in cyber-attacks.
“_Organizations are on high alert, looking for the signs of a cyber-attack_,” says Eva Velasquez, president, and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, in a conversation with CNBC. “_Companies are also making sure their teams are hyper-focused on phishing and other forms of attacks and scams that can lead to a data breach_.”
More organizations are setting up a cybersecurity department to overlook the concerns about data privacy and cybersecurity which have become so integral to our work lives.
“_Cybersecurity relies on specialists of every kind — CISOs, network systems administrators, cloud experts, and more — to achieve success. It takes a true team in order to avoid the pitfalls of cyber vulnerabilities and attacks_,” reports the Center for Internet Security.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19, working from home has given employees as well as business owners the flexibility to continue their business operations while the world was in lockdown. This has only been possible due to the advancements in technology over the years. Remote working allows employees to save up on transport costs and enables more agility and flexibility while maintaining the same levels of productivity as there would be in an office setting.
While making the shift from working from the office to working from home, many organizations faced difficulty in providing virtual private network (VPN) connections to their networks. This allowed people to join in using unknown devices and unknown networks which raised the possibility of cyber-attacks. The question, however, remains, how were the IT departments able to handle challenges related to cybersecurity in a way that allowed working from home?
The answer is short and simple, most organizations created awareness around cybersecurity and ensured adequate training programs to be held for the employees. This allowed the team to understand the importance and necessity of practicing good security habits in the age of digitization. An example of these training programs could be taken from the SANS Institute, which developed a Security Awareness work from home Deployment Kit that “provides a step-by-step plan to quickly execute an awareness initiative to secure your remote workforce, including how to identify what to teach your workforce, the top three risks to focus on, what department to coordinate with and how to effectively engage and communicate to your workforce.”
In order to protect the integrity of a computer’s internet-connected system as well as save data from the threat of being stolen, companies can take up necessary measures such as employing a contingency plan in case of an attack on the critical infrastructure security. Organizations can make application security an essential measure to protect important data. Application security includes antivirus programs, firewalls, and encryption programs. These ensure that only authorized devices have access to data sets.
In addition to that, organizations can inhibit access to important data from outside threats by managing network security and monitoring it closely. These could include asking for extra login details, verification codes, and security questions. Network security allows organizations to track the usual devices and normal traffic on the portals. Any abnormal activity is flagged, and alerts of threat are sent out to avoid possible exploitation of data.
Another way of ensuring and maintaining cybersecurity is using the cloud. Cloud security is a software-based security system that allows organizations to protect sensitive data by allowing an individual to save files and data sets online, on more than one device. This means that the physical location of the data is of less value. Clouds help to maintain backups as well, which makes it easy for people to work from home, using their personal devices instead of depending on the organization’s devices. Companies that do not have strong security systems can rely on Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP) which act as a third-party security provider that allows for a secure environment to work from the comfort of one’s own home.
Third-party apps like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet became increasingly important in the transition to remote work as many people were reliant on keeping their employees and clients linked using these apps. This did however mean sharing all kinds of information with a third-party service provider, which would mean that security and confidentiality also becomes the responsibility of the service provider. However, many service providers allow people working in an organization to have some level of control when it comes to ensuring security, especially while working from home by allowing them to set up strong passwords and MFA (multi-factor authentication).
With the rapid advancements in technology, and the cyber security risks being addressed by a number of security systems now available, it has become very easy for companies to hire Virtual Assistants. Hiring Virtual Assistants from Savvital, is not only the most cost-effective decision to take but also, one of the best decisions because of our highly trained virtual professionals who are familiar with most of the data security systems.
By Maleeha Aslam