How Online Security Threats Hurt Work-From-Home Businesses

The pandemic has brought upon a remote work boom. Unfortunately, online security threats have made that a bit risky.
Conor Cawley

Online security threats are on the rise, as the remote work policy boom has afforded hackers and cyber criminals the opportunity to exploit some serious loop holes.

We can all admit that working from home certainly has its perks. Whether it be the flexible schedule or the comfortable clothes, employees around the world are basking in the glory of not having to commute into the office everyday.

Unfortunately, these COVID-19 safety measures are getting in the way of online security, as threats from malware to ransomware are becoming more and more prevalent amidst the pandemic. Here are a few online security threats to look out for when you and your employees are working from home.

Malware

Simply put, malware is one of the biggest problems when it comes to online security. Between the innocuous way it can enter your computer to the detrimental effect it can have on your online privacy, malware represents the most common issue facing businesses today, with 78% of IT heads citing it as the number one problem.

One of the most alarming instances of malware is the Trickbot botnet, a sophisticated cybercrime network that uses email spam campaigns to infect computers, downloads malware to the infected computer, and subsequently steals data from the user to be sold to nefarious third parties. Fortunately, Microsoft has thwarted future attacks by Trickbot with a court order, but users should stay on alert when online, as nothing is final when it comes to cybersecurity.

“It didn't stop the problem,” says Heather Stratford, CEO of Stronger International. “But it certainly crippled the opponent in the short term.”

How to Mitigate the Threat

Malware is as much a part of the online world as cat videos, which means it can be pretty tough to avoid from day to day. Perhaps the most effective means of halting malware in its tracks is antivirus software. With the right software, you'll be able to consistently scan your computer to protect it from malware, ransomware, and any other type of online security threat that could rear its ugly head.

Insecure Networks for Remote Access

From an online security perspective, the influx of employees working from home is an absolute dream for cyber criminals. Not working in the office may have its perks as far as comfortable clothes are concerned, but the loss of a robust security infrastructure that comes with it can have a seriously negative impact on the safety of your personal data.

The problem is becoming the bane of many IT departments around the world, with 61% insisting that it is their most common issue. To make matters worse, 41% of IT heads agreed that they often don't know how to “discover, identify, or respond to unknown, unmanaged, or insecure devices accessing network and cloud resources.”

How to Mitigate the Threat

The reality is that business-level work was not meant to be done at home, and most businesses aren't set up to manage this kind of shift. Fortunately, technology is here to save the day. A good VPN, for example, could help businesses to protect individual employee devices while still at home. It hides everything from your IP address to your online activity from onlookers, so you can be sure your company's data is safe and sound.

If you're looking for a more comprehensive means of securely having your employees work from home though, remote access software will allow you to securely link your employees to company data without all those loopholes and security breaches. You'll be able to actually access company data directly, rather than have it sent to you, improving security from top to bottom.

Phishing

You might be asking yourself, “how do these businesses fall victim to malware attacks, hacks, and remote access scams?” The answer: phishing.

Phishing scams are designed to trick users into believing a site is legitimate, subsequently getting them to input personal or company information into a form that will likely be sold to a third party or used for other nefarious reasons, like ransomware or malware.

Considering 88% of organizations endured phishing attempts in 2019 and 65% experienced successful phishing attacks, it's safe to say employees need to be on the look up for this kind of behavior. Fortunately, there is something you can do about it, and it won't cost a dime.

How to Mitigate the Threat

The best way to avoid phishing scams is to be vigilant. There's no software or online tool that can help you spot phishing scams accurately, but the fact is that phishing scams are pretty easy to spot if you're paying attention. Security experts even hold that human intelligence is one of the most effective means of halting phishing scams in their tracks.

Yes, antivirus software can protect you from the results of phishing scams, while VPNs and remote access software can keep you secure at home. But if you really want to be as safe as possible when you're working from home, the best thing you can do for your company is promote awareness and vigilance when it comes to online security threats.

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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last five years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.

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