The Effects of Remote Work on Cybersecurity

Businesses everywhere scrambled to ramp up their security efforts almost overnight before employees were fully transitioned into remote work. Unfortunately, for many enterprises, those efforts were not strong enough to combat the increase in cyber attacks that are typical of societal hardship. In fact, the cost of a data breach increased, on average, by over $100,000 with the rise of remote work.

Phishing and ransomware attacks seemed to run rampant on business as they tried to implement changes to people, processes, and infrastructure. Many IT professionals have become exhausted and overwhelmed by the influx of breaches, and cybercriminals continue to exploit those hardships. That exploitation has lead to severe economic and business consequences worldwide. The core operations of how businesses function has changed from their strategies to operations, and enterprise risk assessment.

Company Policies

Many companies did not have existing policies in place for working from home. There were little if any, security guidelines for workers, which means the lines between work-life and home-life blurred significantly. At a minimum, companies who survived with the least amount of attacks had policies in place to police how workers accessed information, especially in regards to clients. Infosec departments must now implement structure in the following areas:

  • Cybersecurity awareness: employees must be aware of the risks and potential mechanisms hackers use to infiltrate devices. Awareness could also include, access to public WiFi, designated devices, and VPN technology.
  • Incident management: while many companies had incident management in place, many employees were unsure of where to go to access the next steps in reporting a breach. IT departments retrained and reinformed management of these policies from the top-down as a result of remote work.

IT Infrastructure

Companies often outsourced IT contractors for small projects. In the wake of the stay-at-home orders, a more rigorous infrastructure took over. With the increased access to databases on personal devices, businesses were tasked with finding solutions for security with the increase of users, oftentimes in the form of new hires within IT departments to manage the high capacity of work.

Video Conferencing & Security

We all heard of the zoom crashers. As everyone took to their computers and at-home offices, the need for video conferencing boomed. And with the boom, came hackers infiltrating these important digital meetings. In came the trade-off between the ease of use for employees, and the actual security of the platform.

The response that organizations have had to the pandemic has played a role in how corporate America will look in the future. Cybersecurity professionals are being perceived in a new light, perhaps a better one, where they are recognized as part of the overarching strategy instead of a roadblock. Although slated budgets have still yet to reflect those changes, as enterprise security budgets are estimated to decrease by 8% in 2021, according to Statista.