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Cyber security and remote working: Managing the risk

Whatever approach is taken in exiting the lockdowns now in place across the world, some form of social distancing and limitations to commuter travel will mean that for many, remote working will remain the norm for the foreseeable future. Oaklin Consultant Sam Engineer discusses how major organisations can manage the cyber risks presented by a distributed workforce.

"Where new systems and tools have been rolled out, new policies and procedures along with clear guidance to employees may not yet have caught up."

Organisations have adapted well thus far, with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noting that many had undertaken “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two weeks”. However, as with all crises there is also an increased risk to security as we have never before operated in an environment like this and attackers will look to exploit uncertainties by praying on insecurities.

Trend data shows an increase in not only the amount of attacks since COVID-19 spread across the world but also the increased likelihood of attack success. Essentially, the success rate has gone up as risks are exposed and people panic.

Organisations need to make sure all end points and data are secure, and deal with the additional security requirements and protections required from the use of new tools - as well as managing pre-existing threats and issues that may not have been resolved. All whilst potentially battling squeezed budgets and stretched human resources and access limitations.

Where new systems and tools have been rolled out, new policies and procedures along with clear guidance to employees may not yet have caught up. Equally, existing policies may not have been followed to the letter given the constraints and need for rapid deployments, exposing risks that need to be minimised.

This has heightened the need to keep access and security measures up to date, issuing clear guidance to all employees on the heightened risks to security as data is accessed through home networks and on new devices.

Remote working has been a growing trend in all industries for several years but the speed and scale recently experienced was not anticipated. Whilst this change in working pattern may bring some long-term benefits, many organisations simply don’t have the infrastructure in place to support and maintain it at present, putting real strain on existing security measures. 

The tools, technologies, processes and procedures needed to meet this challenge and mitigate the threats are out there. Oaklin has proven experience of helping our clients to implement remote working approaches and can help you maintain organisational security and resilience in this changed operating environment.

Author: Sam Engineer, Consultant