An outstanding increase in employees of small businesses telecommuting has created more vulnerabilities in the business network, with workers relying on their home network and sometimes personal devices to complete tasks. Without the cybersecurity measures offered by the business environment to its in-house workers, such as firewalls and blocked IP addresses, the risks associated with remote team tasks being conducted online will always leave remote employees vulnerable to various cyber-attacks on the internet. According to Cyber News, 95% of cybersecurity attacks are confirmed to result from human errors, and working from home has been seen to increase the frequency of cyber-attacks.  Fortunately, there are certain ways to mitigate the cyber risks that come with telecommuting in small businesses.  This article highlights the telecommuting risks encountered by small businesses and how best they can mitigate these risks effectively and enlist the necessary IT services to get the desired cybersecurity

What are the Telecommuting Cyber Risks Encountered by Small Businesses

Here are five common telecommuting cyber risks small business remote teams encounter

Insecure Wi-Fi networks

Employees working remotely often connect to Wi-Fi networks outside the company’s secure environment. For instance, the Wi-Fi networks used in most homes are an easier target for cybercriminals than the typical business network These networks may lack encryption, firewalls, weak security protocols, or other cybersecurity measures, making them susceptible to hacking and allowing cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to the data, files, or network.

Infected Personal Devices

By telecommuting, employees of small businesses are unrestricted from using personal devices for work purposes. These devices may be pre-exposed to malware infection, spyware, or other malicious software which may get into the company’s network. Also, business accounts and passwords can be hacked and stolen, as home devices are used to surf the web unhindered, making them open to cyber-attacks. Therefore, using the same computer for work and personal purposes can be problematic. If these devices are not adequately protected, they can become an entry point for cyberattacks.

Unencrypted File Sharing

Many remote workers use insecure file-sharing methods, such as sending sensitive files through unencrypted email attachments or using unauthorized cloud storage services.  If a cybercriminal intercepts sensitive data while in transit, it can lead to a variety of issues, such as data breaches, identity fraud, unauthorized access to confidential information, theft, and other cyber-attacks.

Business E-mail Compromise (BEC)

Business e-mail compromise cyber-attack is one of the most dangerous and financially damaging types of cyber-attack. Telecommuting leaves employees at risk of various cyber risks like the business e-mail compromise (BEC) scam. Remote employees are susceptible to this cyber-attack as they depend heavily on email compared to in-house employees. Cybercriminals may impersonate company executives or employees through phishing emails to trick remote workers into disclosing sensitive information or making fraudulent transactions. Since they are not present in the office, remote workers in a hurry tend to skip verifying the e-mails because they believe it is from a superior. Once the BEC scam is successful, it can lead to reputational damage and financial loss.

Insider Threats

Telecommuting may increase the risk of insider threats, where employees intentionally or unintentionally misuse company data, share sensitive information, or compromise security protocols. This can arise from factors like disgruntlement, lack of awareness, or insufficient security measures on personal devices.

How Can Small Businesses Mitigate Telecommuting Risk?

Below are some ways for small businesses to ensure adequate cybersecurity in a telecommuting environment:

Enforce Multi-factor authentication

Apart from the security layers on telecommuting employees’ accounts, enforce the need for multi-factor authentication to be added to access company systems and applications.  Multi-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security by combining something they possess (mobile device or token) with something the user knows (password). Therefore, implement strong authentication methods, such as biometrics or hardware tokens, in addition to passwords. Also, regularly review and update authentication protocols. This extra form of cybersecurity lowers the risk of cyber criminals accessing sensitive information.

Use Password Managers

First, educate employees about the importance of using unique and complex passwords. Then, encourage them to use password managers to generate strong, unique passwords for each online account. Password managers securely store and auto-fill passwords, reducing the risk of weak or reused passwords. It also eases the need to remember passwords for their work-related accounts.

Use a VPN

VPN connections are necessary if an employee connects to an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot at home or outside the house. Therefore, implement a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt communication between remote employees’ devices and the company’s internal network.  It is suggested that remote employees use the business VPN while working from home, as data is encrypted from end to end and unreadable even when intercepted by cybercriminals. As a result, ensure your company’s VPN infrastructure is properly configured, patched, and up-to-date. Establish policies and procedures for VPN usage and provide clear instructions to employees on how to connect to the VPN securely.

Deploy a Firewall

A firewall prevents unapproved access to the network, further enhancing the security of your employee’s devices. Firewalls act as a monitor for network traffic, as well as discovering and blocking irrelevant traffic. These make them important tools to protect employees’ endpoints from cyber-attacks. Therefore, install and configure firewalls to enforce network security policies, block unauthorized access attempts, and monitor network traffic. Also, regularly update firewall rules and firmware to address emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

Create a Telecommuting Cybersecurity Policy

A telecommuting policy is a written strategy specifying the principles for all employees who work away from the business’s physical environment. These policies often contain all significant aspects and guidelines of online cybersecurity. Therefore, develop a comprehensive policy covering telecommuting security requirements, including using personal devices, secure access protocols, password management, data handling, encryption, incident reporting, and consequences for policy violations. Also, conduct regular training sessions to educate employees about the policy and reinforce cybersecurity best practices.

Secure Your Remote Team Today

Telecommuting is part of our evolving world of technology, and as a result, it is time to protect your small business remote teams from countless cyber risks. Managed IT Asia provides advanced cybersecurity solutions every business needs to safeguard its systems and employees, both in-house and remotely.  Contact us today and have a chat with our IT team. 

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