The global Covid-19 pandemic caused a worldwide standstill that affected many businesses and individuals. Many businesses closed down entirely, and others are still recovering. When the pandemic first hit and lockdowns were issued, businesses had to quickly rethink how they conducted business and develop ways to allow employees to work from home. Despite being an extremely stressful event, many businesses did learn new ways that they can still continue their work without many of the expensive overheads of big offices – remote work.
In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the lasting effects that the pandemic had on businesses, how employees work, and the associated risks. Finally, we’ll share solutions to protect remote workers, such as password managers and using a location-specific France proxy. Click here to read more about these types of proxies. Keep reading to discover the risks and solutions for conducting business after Covid-19.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the following topics on how work has changed since the pandemic:
- Effects of Covid-19 on the way we work
- The role of cyber security in the new work model
- Ways to work from home safely
Covid-19 affected most businesses and even completely decimated others. But out of the ashes, many businesses have developed new ways to work that have allowed them to save money when it’s critical. Across the world, one-fourth of companies saw their sales fall by 50%. However, individual businesses that were able to respond quickly and adjust how they conducted business saw little effect on their sales.
Businesses that were able to adapt quickly started by setting a remote workforce in place. This allowed the employees who could do so to work from home. This came with its own challenges that IT departments had to navigate, such as setting up remote work tools, time trackers, virtual meeting platforms, etc. Many businesses have noticed that their employees are just as productive when working from home as they were in an office.
At this point, businesses had to cut expenses wherever they could to ensure the business’s survival. Having more employees work from home meant that businesses could cut back on expensive overhead costs such as large office space. Many businesses have started including remote or work from home even after the lockdowns have passed. However, this brought a new challenge to IT departments, ensuring the cyber security of the employees and the business when remote work is allowed.
Since more businesses are adopting a larger remote workforce, cyber security has become a big concern and something that IT departments have to address. Let’s look at some of the security risks facing businesses and employees as part of a remote workforce.
A home network connection that isn’t secure
One of the main causes of an increase in cyber security worries when working from home is unsecured personal networks. Employees may remember to update their devices and antivirus software, but they frequently forget to update their home router software. Personal routers that aren’t updated on a regular basis are vulnerable to security flaws, which can lead to data breaches.
Firewalls would also be installed on enterprise networks, which monitor traffic and block any harmful activities. Many home routers do not include a firewall, which might result in network security flaws.
Increased usage of internet tools
Businesses become considerably more vulnerable to cyber assaults as their reliance on technology and internet tools grows. From cloud storage to emails, attachments, instant messengers, and third-party services and platforms like Zoom, Teams, or Hangouts, more and more work is being accomplished online. This increases the chances for criminals to gain entry to business accounts.
Employees unable to detect scams
Unfortunately, one of the most frequent security risks related to remote work is posed by the workers themselves. Due to negligence, weariness, or a lack of knowledge, employees may unintentionally provide cybercriminals access to their devices or company files. Society of Human Resources Management carried out a research which revealed that 35% of employees who work from home say they are fatigued or have low energy.
Workers are usually far too distracted with their daily responsibilities to think about cyber security issues, especially if they haven’t been educated to do so. Because cybercriminals are always developing and upgrading their methods for defrauding individuals and stealing data, it should come as no surprise that employees will occasionally fall for these deceptions.
The amount of frauds and phishing emails has skyrocketed throughout the pandemic, making employee ignorance one of the most serious security dangers when working from home.
Passwords that are insecure
Even if your organization has VPNs, firewalls, and security software, employees that use weak passwords on their accounts may put your company at risk. Fraudsters will first try to break accounts with weak passwords rather than trying to attack a secure infrastructure. They achieve this by using a variety of tools, such as password generators and coding bots, to try and guess passwords and check accounts for repetitive passwords on a regular basis.
Ransomware and phishing
Phishing and ransomware assaults are another huge threat to remote employees and their employers respectively. Such schemes are being used by cybercriminals to trick people into revealing sensitive information or downloading malicious malware onto their devices. Workers should already be aware of this type of risk, but the epidemic has significantly increased the frequency of such attacks.
According to Databasix, recently there was a considerable increase (by 600%) in phishing emails as cybercriminals try to profit from the fear and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
They work by tricking the victim into revealing login data or sensitive information by impersonating a legitimate source, usually via email. The criminal will then take or lock this information and demand a ransom payment.
File sharing without encryption
While businesses may consider encrypting files stored on their network, they may overlook file encryption while sending data from one location to another. Organizations cannot afford for cybercriminals to intercept files that contain sensitive information (financial, custom data, etc.) as it could lead to cases of identity theft, ransomware, and theft.
When the epidemic hit, everyone started working from home, and some of the workers may have started utilizing their personal gadgets for work. One of the biggest problems this poses is a lack of IT security infrastructure, whether it’s using mobile phones instead of business phones, printers, tablets, or laptops.
Many employees had not considered encrypting voicemails in their inboxes, whether they were using mobiles to log into corporate accounts, take critical calls from clients, or have voicemails in their inbox that contain essential data.
Employee training is one of the essential ways to improve cyber security. Employees, especially those working remotely, must be aware of the risks and how to protect themselves and valuable company data, systems, and networks. Here are a few ways employees can do this:
Enable multi-factor authentication on business systems, files, and more. The more layers of security that can be added will make it difficult for unwanted characters to gain access to a company’s networks, systems, and files.
Having a secure password manager that can also produce unique and strong passwords is a great way to ensure that employees don’t rely on weak passwords to protect accounts that contain sensitive business information.
Proxies are a great way to add another layer of security as they protect users behind a different IP address. For example, using a France proxy will make it appear that the user is accessing the internet from within France. Location-specific proxies like a France proxy can be used to bypass geo-restrictions, but they also make you untraceable.
Businesses need to ensure that reliable antivirus and firewall software is installed on all employees, including remote workers and devices used for business. In this case, deploying MDM (Mobile Device Management) might be a good idea as this software can split a device’s workspace in two (containerization). One workspace can be used for work, and the other for private use. This separates the employee’s private data from business data. IT departments can also use MDM to install security software and updates remotely, and they’ll also be able to wipe business data from the device if it’s lost or stolen. This also ensures your businesses remain GDPR compliant and respect the employees’ privacy.
The pandemic devastated many businesses, but through resilience, many pulled through. These businesses also discovered that, in some cases, they could save on expenses by allowing certain employees to work remotely. This has its own risks, and IT departments have to start teaching employees how to keep themselves and the business safe when working from home.