Remote Working leads to New Cybersecurity Threats

As workers and businesses get more familiar with remote working, new threats are continuing to make headlines. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre announced a joint alert with the United States’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency regarding the rise in cyber attacks related to the COVID19 crisis

Malware on the rise

The frequency of malware attacks has tripled since the Coronavirus forced companies to turn to remote working practices. Many home office networks are 3.5 times more at risk than business networks to be infected by malware or ransomware. These risks can expose business systems and data, that typically sit behind a company firewall, to a world of network threats prevalent on residential networks.

Therefore, businesses and their people must understand the steps they need to take today to protect themselves from possible threats.

Some advice for protection

If users are working with company laptops, there is a very good chance that these devices will be protected with the same rigour as they are when used in the office. But there are several things to watch out for, depending on how they are used:

If the device requires a connection to the company network to apply updates or obtain anti-malware/virus licensing and especially if the user is not regularly connected via VPN, the state of these updates should be monitored to ensure machines are not “getting behind”, especially with the lockdown now exceeding one month.

If the devices anti-virus/malware protection is not being monitored, your IT team have no idea if it’s working or if it encounters a threat it cannot deal with.

A lot of software firewalls on laptops distrust public networks (quite rightly) but may have been set to trust a local network – for example to allow Wifi printing or scanning. With potentially more users of potentially insecure devices on your home network during the lockdown. If your kid’s laptop has been compromised, e.g. they downloaded a pirated game, then your work laptop on the same network is at threat.

Some home WiFi networks have “guest” features. As you’re unlikely to have guests at the moment, why not consider switching your work laptop to the Guest WiFi network leaving the other family members on their usual setting. If that interferes with things like printing, get the others to switch instead – at least while you’re working.

If you or your staff are using personally owned devices for accessing your systems (whether on-premise or in the cloud) then you need to be even more careful. We would advise AGAINST using a VPN from a device that hasn’t been checked over or protected in some way, as when the VPN is running, it can expose the entire businesses network, especially if the VPN is fairly permissive.

The Technologies Group has experience with home working and can make recommendations on its security. Enabling features like 2-Factor (also called 2FA or MultiFactor, MFA) Authentication – where a login then requires a pin code from a phone or some other device – will greatly protect the business if credentials are stolen or leaked.

2FA/MFA can be deployed across many services and even VPN’s, so if it’s available to you, turn it on in every app or website you use.

Social Vulnerabilities

Tools like Zoom have made work collaboration easier but they are not without risk. The threat of “Zoom bombing” has led many workplaces to switch from Zoom to other applications. If you do need to use these tools, password protecting meetings to avoid intruding users from gaining access to virtual meetings.

Researchers recently were able to find stolen credentials for more than 500,000 Zoom accounts on the dark web. If you use the same password for Zoom (or anywhere else for that matter) across different accounts, now is the time to start making each password unique. If the thought of remembering 100’s of different passwords fills you with dread, try using a password manager like Lastpass or Dashlane.

The Technologies Group is now offering free IT Support to business for the next three months (remote workers and on-premise) and existing TTG customers are now being offered free IT support for their homeworkers including remote monitoring and anti-virus/anti-malware support.

If you’d like us to assist you in anything discussed in this article or IT related, please get in touch. You can also email me [email protected]

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