Just like every other crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the boats of most businesses. The fact that it has discouraged physical interactions has forced enterprises to embrace work from home initiatives. Most companies have had to increase their reliance on collaborative technology to keep their business operations afloat.
Sadly, while businesses are busy adapting to the new normal, hackers and threat actors have been taking advantage of the security loophole introduced by working from home. Most of these loopholes have been around for a long time, but the pandemic aggravates the threats they pose. If your business fails to look for solutions to these threats, you stand to lose a lot.
Here are five cybersecurity threats that have been made worse by the pandemic:
1. Phishing Attacks
Contrary to the norm, employees now have to communicate heavily through phone calls, emails, and social platforms. As such, it is easier for cybercriminals to send out phishing scams. A hacker could easily send out emails to an unknowing employee in the façade of a trusted authority in your business. If your employee isn't careful enough, they could click on the email and end up downloading malware.
In other cases, these attacks result in the employees offering threat actors private information about the company or even sending out unwarranted payments. Aside from these direct attacks, hackers have also been preying on the need to know for all things COVID-19-related.
There has been a spike in the number of fraudulent links being shared on social media that claim to provide COVID-19-related information. Something as simple as an employee clicking on these links could be detrimental to your data security. The best way to tackle this threat would be to hire security experts to educate employees on how to spot and avoid current and emerging phishing attacks.
2. The Use of Unsecured Devices
It is easier for a business to control its cybersecurity posture when employees are working in-house. Since most of the devices they use are provided by your company, implementing the necessary cybersecurity control measures is straightforward. Also, you could send out updates anytime with little friction.
In the case of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, most businesses have implemented practices that have ensured that employee's devices have the latest security updates. Sadly, controlling all of this isn't as easy when employees are working from home.
It can be tough to send updates to all devices employees could use when logging into corporate networks. Even worse, some employees may connect to corporate accounts through Wi-Fi networks that aren't secure enough. As soon as a hacker identifies such threats, your business is in trouble.
Business leaders can keep this threat at bay by creating and implementing policies that outline the kind of devices employees should use to access corporate data. These policies can also contain security best practices and outline how to handle software updates. Another valid option would be to implement data masking techniques like encryption.
3. Shadow IT
Shadow IT has always been an issue even before the pandemic hit. Employees who are always looking for more effortless ways to do their job are known to use unsanctioned apps from time to time. Sure, not all apps pose security risks, but a data breach might need only having a single employee use a malware-infested application.
What's even worse is that IT departments might not know that employees are using these unsanctioned apps. When employees were working in the office, it was easier to spot the use of unsanctioned apps.
However, with more employees working remotely, they have the freedom to design their work environment, and this includes the apps they can use. Sure, IT departments might offer a list of sanctioned apps, but most employees will use other alternatives if the sanctioned ones can't make their work easier.
IT departments can tame this menace by containerizing their corporate data on employee's devices and involving employees in picking the ideal organizational tools for their jobs. Besides giving you more control over what employees can do with corporate data, containerization un-complicates most security complexities that come with remote work.
4. Poor Physical Security
It is tough to predict who your employees interact and live with at home. In some cases, the threat actors could also be neighbors. In the office environment, it is pretty easy to achieve physical security. Employees can store sensitive documents under lock and key. Your office environment is a sanctuary for your business operations, with little to no intrusion from the outside world.
The situation can be reversed when working from home. Employees who aren't aware of common cybersecurity threats could leave sensitive documents lying around anywhere. They could also forget to turn off their computer screens when interacting with friends and neighbors. As for the disposal of confidential documents, employees may lack shredders at home to make the data unrecognizable. All these factors make it easier for threat actors to gain access to your corporate data.
Corporate leaders can implement cloud storage solutions to limit the amount of data employees store physically. Training employees on the best practices for physical security will also ensure that corporate data is safe, even while working remotely.
5. Insider Threats
Insider threats occur when employees expose sensitive corporate data either intentionally or unintentionally. With the stress levels brought about by COVID-19 and its effects on most employees' finances, most people could be looking for additional income sources. Employees who have had to take a pay cut or were laid off might be disgruntled to the point of selling your data.
In other cases, the lack of a nearby IT department to approach security concerns also increases the chances that employees will make costly mistakes. While IT departments might be reached through a phone call, there are instances where the responsible people might be out of reach. Having employees sign, NDAs could help mitigate common insider threats from disgruntled staff members. As for common security errors employees can commit, solving them can be as easy as educating employees and ramping up your IT team's availability.
Businesses that want to survive through the pandemic will need to find ways to deal with the threats above. One great way to start is by educating employees on cybersecurity best practices. Business leaders will also need to continually monitor their businesses to identify security loopholes that pose the most significant threats.