The first thing to understand here is the term “WFH.” This isn’t a technical term, it just stands for “work from home.” Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID pandemic, there are a lot more people working from home these days. As such, there are new security questions and challenges to be overcome. In this article, we will explore what constitutes a work-from-home security risk.
Most home networks are not particularly secure. even if the user has taken a few basic precautions, it is unlikely that their home network has the same security as an enterprise network. Thus, when you have large numbers of people connecting to your business network through their home networks, you have a plethora of potential entry points through which a hacker might barge. This might be the biggest WFH security risk because it is very hard to address.
The only realistic way to address this problem is for companies to begin extending their security services to home-based workers. By doing this, it is theoretically possible for their home network to be just as secure as the one that your in-house workers use. The use of endpoint protection software and endpoint detection/response software is very common and effective in business environments, and these applications can definitely be utilized remotely.
Lack Of Physical Control
When your employees are using proprietary devices at the office (or some other physical location), you can maintain a certain amount of physical control. You can inspect those end-user devices at any time because they are on-site and they all technically belong to the company. The same goes for software resources and access to the network itself. However, when all of this is available from home, that physical control is removed.
This isn’t always a problem, but it certainly can be. However, even remote workers can be limited to accessing the network through a proprietary issued device. Such a device can be monitored from afar, ensuring that no unauthorized activities are done. While you can’t control everybody’s home network, you can definitely control the device that they use to access your network.
Out-Of-Date Hardware Or Software
Some of the biggest hacking attacks of all time have been accomplished through the exploitation of outdated hardware or software. All computerized devices are based on the use of code, and that code will pretty much always have a few potential exploits. When one is fixed, that will sometimes create a new exploit. As a result of this, companies are constantly updating and patching software to keep it as secure as possible.
This is another good argument for the use of issued devices. If your remote workers are using proprietary devices, you can update these devices remotely. As such, you always know that their direct link to your network is secure. Again, you can’t guarantee that everyone’s home network is secure, but you can secure one particular “gate.”
Lack Of Multi-Factor Authentication
When you have people accessing sensitive records from afar, authentication is highly crucial. In many cases, a username and password simply aren’t enough. These things can be compromised in a number of ways, so something more extensive is needed for high-security applications.
Multi-factor authentication is one of the best available ways to strengthen your identity verification setup. While it isn’t too hard to “spoof” one set of credentials, it gets a lot harder when they have to falsify multiple identifiers. Phone verification is a good way to go, and everyone should be using at least three security questions. If you really want to go all-out, you could opt for some sort of biometric ID. However, that is a lot more expensive and isn’t necessary for most purposes.
Risk Of Theft
When your workers are using remote devices to access the company network, whether that be through private or proprietary devices, there is always a risk of theft. If the thief is technologically inclined, it is possible that they could use that stolen device to gain access. Even if the device is merely lost, there is no telling who could find it and how they might use its data.
The best way to counter this is through quick reporting. The quicker an access device is reported stolen, the more quickly it can be remotely disabled. Good network monitoring is also very helpful here, as it can allow IT professionals to detect an unauthorized user through anomalous or suspicious activity.
Non-Secure File Sharing
Even if you can completely secure the gateway through which your remote workers access the company network, there is still another risk: Non-secure file sharing. Remote workers will often have to communicate with each other, particularly if they are working on the same project. While doing this, they will often need to share files with each other.
While there is nothing wrong with this practice, you need to make sure that those files are being sent in an encrypted form. The most secure way would be through the use of a PGP/GPG email client, with the files being included as attachments. PGP/GPG is probably the only type of encryption that is never known to have been cracked. Veracrypt is another great tool that can be used to securely encrypt files, even if it might add an extra step or two to the process.
As a final note, we would mention that VPN networks are a perfect choice for remote work applications. They are well-suited for a situation in which you have a large number of remote users. In fact, that’s the business model used by all VPN providers. The encrypted nature of these networks will also provide some of the best available security for the network itself and everyone that connects.
It is possible to utilize remote workers in a way that is both safe and effective. If you need help in doing so, feel free to call PCH Technologies at (856) 754-7500.