The main concern for businesses is around the best ways to protect workers, data and equipment. Despite the best of intentions, businesses without a security framework run a higher risk of falling prey to the risks of remote working. 

Biggest remote work cybersecurity risks.

Not surprisingly, working from home is less secure than the office. IT professionals work hard to ensure their organisations have robust and secure networks that fight attacks and protect valuable data. But when your staff need to be working from home, those protections can’t always cover your staff from accessing external sources.

As observed in the 2020-21 financial year by ACSC, over 1,500 cybercrime reports of malicious cyber activity related to the coronavirus pandemic. That is approximately 4 cyber crime reports per day. With more users working remotely the digital attack surface expands. 

Attack vectors include:

1. Phishing Schemes
A scammer contacts you pretending to be from a legitimate business such as a bank, telephone or internet service provider. You may be contacted by email, social media, phone call, or text message.

2. Weak Passwords
A password that is easy to detect both by humans and by computer. People often use obvious passwords such as the names of their children or their house number in order not to forget them. However, the simpler the password, the easier to detect.

3. Unencrypted File Sharing
Encrypted file transfer is the process of encrypting a file before transmitting it over a network, Internet and/or remote server. It is done to secure a file and hide its content from being viewed or extracted by anyone except the receiver or sender.  When files are sent without encryption, they can be read by anyone.

4. Home Wi-Fi
Today, our home WIFI networks are password-protected, but that doesn’t make it secure. That only means other’s can’t enjoy your internet for free.  Encryption isn’t necessary for personal use at home, but with staff working remotely and using their home WIFI it’s introduced this new risk for businesses to manage. This is because information transferred through this type of network will be unencrypted, meaning that logins, passwords, messages, and other sensitive information can be intercepted.

5. Working from Personal Devices
Using personal devices for work introduces a host of issues like; unregulated apps that don’t meet business security standards, risk of infection from viruses, accidental data leakage and staff being less vigilant on vetting suspicious emails.

Most organisations  have developed a cyber security capability that includes VPN complete with strong password policies, for occasional use. However, these can have limitations and can be costly to scale for the entire company, so there is a growing movement for businesses to adopt Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) as an easier and more holistic way to combat the challenges of remote working.

What is SASE?

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) combines networking and security functions in the cloud to deliver seamless, secure access to applications, anywhere users work.

It is a cloud architecture model that combines network and security functions into a single cloud service, saving external traffic loads from routing back through the data centre.

Essentially, SASE creates an environment that has the security benefits of an on-site network, but still allows for simple access for remote workers. Being designed as a cloud security product, it provides security at multiple levels to ensure data is protected within the environment, not just at the initial access point, like a virtual private network (VPN).

The true value of SASE comes from its simplicity to the end-user. If you’re trying to juggle multiple methods of security, taking the time to find a simple and secure setup is worth the time. With 53% of organisations admitting they have too many tools or applications to manage, the reasons for moving to SASE are clear.

Ways SASE combats the risks of remote work

Using a SASE model makes staying on top of security that much easier. It allows you to consolidate network and security features and functions like:

  • firewall as a service;
  • malware protection;
  • data loss prevention;
  • intrusion detection and intrusion prevention;
  • software as a service;
  • secure web gateways;
  • cloud access security brokers (CASBs); and
  • zero-trust network access.

Having these included in your SASE solution means you don’t have to worry about the remote working security risks because:

  • home networks have less of an impact because data is kept secure within the environment.
  • The company environment is protected from personal devices that don’t have antivirus software installed.
  • Data leakage becomes less of a risk because all work is done within a secure environment.

It looks like remote working will be a part of our future, thankfully the associated risks don’t have to be. By adopting a SASE model, you’ll provide your staff with a secure environment that is simple to manage, and designed to scale with your business needs.