The COVID-19 pandemic drove a rapid, and unexpectedly high adoption of remote work for many organizations across the globe. In a matter of months, many companies transitioned much of their office-based workforce to working-from-home environments.

However, in the mad rush to secure the health and wellbeing of their employees and customers, multiple cyber security practices and protocols were missed.

For instance, many employees did not have adequate cyber security protections in their home offices creating more vulnerabilities for the company network. Understandably, the move was sudden and there wasn’t enough time to think strategically about possible cyber attacks.

As time went on, the benefits of remote work became apparent. Some you are probably already aware of, but here are the few prominent ones:

Improved work-life balance

Working from home gave employees a more flexible schedule where they can end their day as they choose. During their breaks, they can tend to their families or even work out.

Less commute anxiety

Commuting in traffic is a high-stress activity. In addition, many workers spend at least two hours driving to and from their offices five days per week. That’s a lot of time that could be spent working, and also no commutes means less wear and tear on their vehicles. There isn’t anything fun about sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, especially if it means you’ll arrive late to the office. Studies have also shown that commuting can lead to stress-related health issues, including:

  • Depression
  • Higher cholesterol levels
  • Elevated blood sugar

Without a commute to worry about, workers might have extra time to work out, get an extra hour of rest, eat a healthy breakfast, or focus on upskilling to land their dream position.

Location independent

In the past, many employees felt the pressure to move to a specific city to work for the company of their choice. Yet, the ideal is to live in the suburbs or even rural communities with more space to live and breathe. Still, cities are packed and stressful because they are hubs for most major companies.

One of the benefits of remote work is job seekers can apply to postings from anywhere. Also, companies can leverage the best in the field without paying for moving costs. People who move often, such as nurse or military spouses may also benefit from a remote working environment.

Moreover, it helps to avoid some of the pitfalls of living in major cities such as high rents and higher cost of living.

Bolstered inclusivity

Companies can hire a more diverse workforce since they’re not bound by physical location. It’s also a boon when employees can work from the communities where they feel most supported.

Cost savings

Gas savings can add up to around $5,000 annually without a daily commute. Added to the savings of remote work include car maintenance, going out to eat, parking fees, transportation or bus tickets, and spending on an office wardrobe. However, employers can also realize long-term savings on real estate, electricity, operational continuity, and transit subsidies.

Positive environmental effects

Over 600,000 cars were taken off the road for about a year. Therefore, millions of tons of greenhouse gases (GHG) were offset. Also, employees used less paper, air conditioning, heating, and lighting. The potential impact is similar to planting a new forest full of trees.

Surge in productivity and performance

Remote work may also have fewer interruptions, fewer discussions at the water fountain, less commute time, fewer impromptu celebrations, and fewer unplanned meetings so employees can spend more time on what they were hired to do.

How can we protect our remote working environment from cyber attack trends?

While there are so many advantages to retaining a remote workforce, it also drives unanticipated digital risks. How can you protect your remote working environment from unanticipated data breaches?

Consider the implications of a phishing scam where an email promises a COVID-19 solution or perhaps information about where to get a vaccine by opening up an email attachment. Further, the email is designed to look legitimate. It may also prey on recipients' desires to help those affected by the pandemic by claiming a donation portal. What if the email was engineered to look like it came from the company help desk? How could your organization protect your employees from a well-designed email that includes malware that can collect customer data, employee records, login credentials, intellectual property, and more?

Unfortunately, cyber security requires more thoughtful consideration during a crisis. Cyber criminals never let a crisis go to waste and often take advantage of the situation by sending messages that look like they come from the World Health Organization but really contain malware.

In some instances, recipients were sent links to fake sites that promised to share updated pandemic information. Instead, they installed malware that worked in the background of every infected device. In fact, cyber criminals used it to collect credentials and passwords. There are many other examples similar to this one, and they happen more frequently than most organizations realize.

Therefore, it’s crucial to implement the right cyber security technologies. And if this seems an insurmountable task, then partner with a managed cyber security services vendor to take care of every cyber security risk for your organization and to protect your corporate assets. Some ways a cyber security services provider can help your company from falling victim to cyber attack trends is by executing the following activities.

Assessment of remote work environment

To work remotely, many employees used their laptops or desktops and connected to their company networks using their home-based Wi-Fi network. It’s crucial to take an overall assessment to protect the network by securing the following:

  1. Endpoints. All applications and tools should be approved and secured. A complete inventory of authorized devices should be noted. Further, special attention is paid to Ethernet MAC addresses.
  2. Connectivity. Ensure that network connections are secure with two-factor authentication and protected hosting solutions.
  3. Remote network infrastructure. A cyber security managed services vendor will configure networks, firewalls, servers, and collaboration tools to accommodate fluctuating traffic while keeping it protected from the many cyber attack trends proliferating networks today.

Remote work is accelerating, and a managed cyber security services vendor will make sure all technologies are scalable and tested for security even when there is a rapid clip in overall demand.

Secure mobile devices and applications

By partnering with a cyber security vendor, you can rely on encryption and firewalls for all devices, including application control, antivirus protection, personal firewalls, and antispyware. Your IT infrastructure at the office cannot guarantee a safe remote work infrastructure without these types of protocols.

It’s essential to have systems in place that prevent cyber criminals from hacking into external hard drives, USB drives, and also to protect against stolen or even lost devices. It’s all about data loss prevention (DLP). You also want to ensure secure access to business systems by having all your remote-access logs monitored for unusual behavior.

Further, it’s critical to deploy robust cyber breach response processes. A cyber security vendor will test all procedures and processes to ensure your response chains are integrated and work seamlessly for your remote personnel. They will also test your backup and recovery systems so they won’t falter during an unexpected event.

There are also remote collaboration tools to consider. They should be secure, and remote workers should only use company-and-vendor-approved tools. One small compromise can lead to a breach that impacts the entire network and infects multiple devices.

Undoubtedly, it’s essential to incorporate flexible plans because the threats evolve rapidly. With the right partner, you will always be prepared for anything and respond proactively.

Why is this important?

It’s vital to quickly identify and respond to threats. Many companies don’t have adequate infrastructure to manage cyber security without a partner. It’s not a one-and-done strategy. Effective cyber security requires active monitoring, analysis, and power response to address cyber security threats today and in the future.

As such, many organizations engage cyber security services vendors to monitor their cyber threats on an ongoing basis and to send real-time alerts when an issue becomes pervasive.

Frequently, incidents happen at night, during holidays, and on the weekends when companies are less likely to have IT staff on hand. Yet, every minute a threat invades your system costs money.

Further, a distributed remote workforce can expand the threat surface. Home-based workers may use various devices to connect to the corporate network. Perhaps endpoint protection is limited, if there is any at all. Cyber criminals find this as an opportunity to exploit the unprotected endpoints and creep into company networks undetected.

On the other hand, a managed cyber security services vendor will protect your endpoints and use data to make more intelligent decisions around threats. They can perform context-aware analysis to keep cyber criminals away. They can set up authentication systems to allow or deny access based on user need and hierarchy. And they can ensure all company-approved devices are always updated with the most recent security updates.

Last, but not least, protecting your remote working environment from cyber attacks lowers liability. It’s critical to have compliant IT systems in place, and this isn’t always easy to do without an experienced vendor to help. Therefore, you might save on insurance premiums because you have better cyber security controls in place. It can also reduce the costs associated with regulatory fines because you have a partner who can help your organization with due diligence.

Unquestionably, cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated every day and they attack at faster rates. As a result, a growing number of organizations are turning to managed cyber security services to keep their systems protected in an unpredictable environment.

Key takeaway

Let the experts at SSI monitor your network and endpoints. By having a technology partner like SSI, you can make better cyber security decisions.