Working from home the 'new normal', but be wary of cyber security threats

With many companies opting to let employees work from home as a measure to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, a cyber security expert has sounded a warning about the importance of data security.

“With many more workers outside the corporate boundaries, it is key to ensure compliance around data security. This includes issues like data encryption and remote backups,” said J2 Software CEO John McLoughlin.

“The process and need for improved cyber resilience is something that requires even greater vigilance as staff move out of the business and access corporate networks remotely.”

He said unsecured home networks, default passwords and excessive social media sharing were opening holes in business cyber security.

“With many employees working from home for the first time, there will be many new problems that might not have been addressed or maybe not even thought of,” said McLoughlin.

At work, employees were protected by secure Wi-Fi networks and operate behind company firewalls. However, the sudden move to home meant some employees are using laptops and desktops with no firewalls and accessing systems using open remote desktop sessions.

“The simple truth is that simply picking up and moving people home without looking at the risks of remote connectivity can result in even more business disruption,” he warned.

“There are simple steps to take and this could be an opportunity for a rapid and secure move to the new normal. Virtual work environments, collaboration and a remote workforce are now a reality. You can either do this safely and embrace the new normal or find yourself falling behind — or worse.”

McLoughlin said effective cyber risk management required a comprehensive approach employing risk assessment, measurement, mitigation, transfer and planning. The optimal programme would depend on each company’s unique risk profile and tolerance.

“There are tools to ensure security compliance and which allow you to confirm that the work is being done and completed within policy. These tools will assist management without infringing on the user’s ability to complete their work.”

 

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