Maintaining cybersecurity while working from home is difficult but essential.
Do you have a development team that works remotely? It can be scary to think about all the confidential data that is left vulnerable through distributed teams.
Fortunately, security best practices are not secrets. You just have to know where to find the information.
Trio has the information right here! Stay tuned to learn more about cybersecurity procedures for work from home teams.
What Is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity refers to any measures and protocols that protect the digital well-being of a machine.
In practice, cybersecurity can look like employing a number of applications, programs, systems, networks, and more to decrease vulnerabilities and respond to cyber threats.
Unauthorized access is one of if not the greatest risk to secure networks and devices. The privacy of information is paramount to any business that relies on technical infrastructure.
Everything related to protecting these entities falls under the topic of cybersecurity.
Why Is Cybersecurity Important?
Also known as information technology (IT) security or electronic information security, cybersecurity is as much about those who use computers as it is about the computers themselves.
Though poor cybersecurity can put your personal data at risk, the stakes are just as high for businesses and government departments that face cyber threats.
Much of the information of the world is held digitally, and leaving this data vulnerable puts nearly everybody in danger.
Unfortunately, keeping machines and people secure is a painstaking task. Even as technology becomes more complex, so do the cyber threats putting cybersecurity at risk.
From 2018 to 2019, the number of data breaches almost doubled. With medical, finance, and retail sectors being the primary victims of such attacks.
Businesses, of course, suffer a great deal from cyber threats. Besides the loss of data, consumers can lose their trust in a business after a data breach occurs, damaging a company’s reputation.
Not to mention, in 2020, the average cost of a data breach was 3.86 million US dollars.
And it goes without saying that cybercriminals who access the confidential information of government institutions can almost single-handedly disrupt business as usual on a wide scale — for better or for worse.
In summary, neglecting the importance of cybersecurity can have a negative impact socially, economically, and even politically.
Types of Cybersecurity Threats
In general, there are three main types of cybersecurity threats:
- cybercrime — occurs when an individual or group targets a system for the purpose of disruption or financial gain
- cyber-attack — involves the gathering of information that is politically motivated
- cyberterrorism — when the undermining of information systems has the intent to spread fear
As you can see, cybersecurity threats are largely categorized by their objective. But within these three main categories, there are several technical descriptors for how a cyber threat operates. See below.
Malware is the umbrella term for malicious software. Cybercriminals and hackers typically create malware with the intention of damaging another user’s computer.
Even within this specific category, there are various subsets of malware including:
- viruses — a self-replicating program that infects clean code with its replicants, modifying other programs
- trojans — malicious code disguised as legitimate software
- spyware — software that aims to collect information from a person or organization for malicious purposes
- ransomware — software designed to blackmail users by encrypting important files
- adware — software that automatically displays unwanted advertisements on a user’s interface
- botnets — a network of connected computers that can send spam, steal data, or compromise confidential information, among other things
SQL injection is an attack consisting of an injection of malicious code into a structured query language (SQL) statement. It is one of the most common web hacking attacks and can damage your database.
Phishing / Social Engineering
Social engineering is the act of manipulating users into giving away private information.
Phishing is a type of social engineering where an attacker entices a user to reveal sensitive information by first sending a fraudulent message, usually through email.
Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks occur when a perpetrator shimmies themselves between the user and the web application when a new connection is made.
The man in the middle essentially interrupts a data transfer by inserting themselves into the middle of the process, pretending to be a participant and intercepting information.
Advanced Persistent Threats
Advanced persistent threats (APTs) describe intruders or a group of intruders who can remain undetected for an extended period of time.
APTs infiltrate systems leaving them intact, but steal sensitive data in the process. This poses a particular threat to government and state organizations.
In a denial-of-service attack, cybercriminals interrupt the fulfillment of user requests by overwhelming networks and servers with traffic.
This method usually occurs via multiple coordinated systems, therefore some called it a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.
Key Elements of Cybersecurity
Modern cybersecurity is a diverse subject area with many branches. It can extend from business infrastructures to mobile computing.
Here are the many layers of cybersecurity for a complex and sound protection plan against cybercrime:
- Application security — involves processes that help protect applications both in and out of the cloud; security is built in during the design stage
- Information security — securing data from unauthorized access and the protocols involved in doing so such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Critical infrastructure security — practices that protect computer systems, networks, and similar assets
- Cloud security — encrypting cloud data to support customer privacy and compliance standards along with business interests
- Network security — security measure for protecting computer networks, both wired and wireless
- Disaster recovery & business continuity — tools and procedures, mainly in the form of documentation, put in place to respond to unforeseen events like natural disasters, power outages, and similar circumstances
- Operational security — includes the logistical management of security protocols; related to decision-making
- End-user education — aims to educate users about common security threats in order to avoid them
5 Modern Cybersecurity Challenges to Watch Out For
Cybersecurity today is stronger than it ever was. But that does not mean that modern technology is without security challenges.
For example, there are romance schemes in which cybercriminals take advantage of new partners who do not live in the country.
These types of scams are especially easy to set up considering the popularity of online dating in the era.
There are also organized cybercriminal groups with malicious intent. In December of 2019, such a group took part in the Dridex malware attack which compromised governments and businesses worldwide.
These are just a few illustrations of the nuanced ways in which cyber threats present themselves.
Take a look at the top 5 cyber threats to watch out for.
1. Cyberattacks via Compromised IoT Devices
The 21st century has prompted the innovation of unique application development trends that are impressive beyond measure.
Still, cyber threats exist even when it comes to things that are shiny and new. For instance, internet of things (IoT) categorizes a genre of devices that are connected digitally over a network.
A smart fridge or FitBit are good examples of where you can find IoT in everyday life. Of course, this brand of tech comes with particular vulnerabilities.
When networks are insecure, hackers can easily target IoT devices and access and control them remotely. Smart hubs like Google Home and Alexa are among the most hackable devices.
2. Cloud Security Risks with Data and Applications
Cloud technology is another booming industry with much to offer. Whether its off-premise servers or a popular cloud app like Slack, cloud computing plays a big part in daily business operations.
Unfortunately, there are a few worrisome risks to think about where the cloud and cybersecurity are concerned, including cloud misconfiguration, insecure APIs, and the exposure of sensitive data.
Cloud misconfiguration describes an occurrence where a company has not configured cloud systems correctly. In a figurative sense, this leaves the door wide open for potential hackers.
Given the prevalence of cloud technology, this is not at all uncommon when software as a service (SaaS) providers make regular updates to their applications.
Alternatively, app interconnectivity with SaaS applications often calls for the use of APIs. APIs enable applications and services to communicate with one another and share information.
What’s more, there’s always the risk of insider intrusion. Cloud-based businesses tend to allow employees extensive access to millions of files. It’s easy enough to compromise a file without even knowing it but someone with the ill will could do even more damage.
3. Machine Learning and AI-Based Attacks
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are two related technological concepts that encompass much of the digital transformation of the past decade or so.
Through ML and AI, complex algorithms can train machines to think for themselves, absorb new data, and essentially mimic human abilities.
There are both positive and negative effects of AI and ML for cybersecurity. Though artificial intelligence can improve threat detection and vulnerability management, there are some downfalls to this transformative technology.
System manipulation, for one, is a commonplace attack where a hacker uses malicious inputs to cause the machine to make false predictions.
Transfer learning attacks are just as threatening. Since ML relies on pre-trained learning models for optimization, an attacker who gets their hands on a model can then launch specific attacks against it.
4. Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Systems Cyberthreats
Cryptocurrency is a digital currency with encryption capabilities that far surpass the average paper bill.
The potential of cryptocurrency has led many businesses and individuals to invest in different types of cryptocurrency in order to generate revenue as this relatively modern financial system grows.
Blockchain is the most popular form of cryptocurrency. It is a form of decentralized cryptocurrency where each transaction is encapsulated in a virtual block that cannot be modified.
Bitcoin, probably the most familiar word you’ve heard related to this topic, uses blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is applied in a number of industries, from healthcare to education.
Of course, the reality of digital currency means that cyber risks are imminent. To elaborate, an eclipse attack is a special cryptocurrency cyberattack where an attacker infiltrates and monopolizes a network connection.
In this attack, the hacker isolates a blockchain node and floods the network with false information.
A Sybil attack also occurs on a network level. Sybil attacks involve the attacker forging pseudonymous identities to gain a large influence.
5. Adopting and Scaling DevOps
DevOps is shorthand for developer operations and refers to a combination of practices and tools that play into software development and information technology (IT) as a whole.
Many of the cybersecurity risks DevOps team face intersect with cloud security risks. This is because modern tooling for DevOps often relies on cloud solutions.
Thus, security misconfigurations still remain a large concern. Similarly, migrating to serverless computing poses data vulnerabilities like the exposure of sensitive data.
The interconnectedness of DevOps is also worrisome and shares the same risks as established with cloud computing.
Cybersecurity Risks While Working from Home
If your company is working with sensitive data, has a large user database, or is involved in financial operations, you should pay extra attention to ensure your security measures are properly in place.
Keeping information safe while everyone is working in the same office is easier than working with distributed remote employee networks. With work from home jobs, cybersecurity threats stem from unprotected home and public network access.
Endpoint security is another factor influencing data breaches. This includes updating operating systems and software, using anti-virus programs, and network firewalls.
According to the 2022 State of Endpoint Security Report, it takes 102 days on average to patch critical software and operating systems, leaving sensitive data vulnerable.
But more than anything, cyber threats thrive off lack of awareness. Numerous companies don’t educate their employees about cybersecurity in work-from-home environments. An uninformed approach or no approach at all is often the result.
10 Steps To Guarantee Work From Home Cyber Security
Forewarned is forearmed. Once you know that there are threats out there that can compromise cybersecurity when you work from home, you can make sure that risks are minimized.
You can’t totally eliminate the possibility of a cyberattack, but you can do your best to reduce the likelihood of it happening.
1. Raise Awareness
Start with the obvious: Educate both onsite and offsite employees about cybersecurity best practices and procedures.
This might entail regular security meetings where you inform your employees about new cybersecurity technologies and developments. Having this knowledge will significantly lower the impact of a cybersecurity attack.
2. Monitor Company-Issued Devices
While privacy and trust are important things to consider here, monitoring company-issued devices can help prevent cybersecurity issues at work from home stations. Remember these tips when working with digital internet-ready devices:
- Keep them up to date with anti-virus software
- Analyze the potential point of exposure to security threats
- Find out whether or not employees are honoring the security protocols imposed by the company.
3. Establish Company Security Protocols
Having a centralized strategy for dealing with security issues will ascertain that everyone is following protocol and not exposing sensitive information to cyber risks.
A policy of this sort may include:
- Case studies and examples
- Suggestions on how to respond if you suspect a cyber threat,
- The programs that the employees need to use to create strong passwords
- Whatever other tips you can offer
There should also be clear documentation for how to handle cybersecurity threats when they arise in work-from-home environments so workers can follow along whenever they are in need.
4. Use Cloud Applications
Opting to use cloud service providers is one way to maintain a high level of cybersecurity in remote work. Cloud services use data encryption technology to transfer confidential information.
Now that blockchain is also being used in cloud software, transactions will be even more secure and your budget will be happy as well.
5. Utilize VPNs
A virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to sustain work-from-home cybersecurity.
No matter where they are located, a VPN helps to increase the security of a web session, transferred data, financial transactions, and personal information.
With a VPN, your employees can create a private connection to your business network from a public internet connection. This way, they’ll be enabled with online privacy and anonymity.
6. Be Prepared
Adversarial attacks come in the form of intentionally malicious security breaches. Proper password management is one way to extend cybersecurity in work-from-home environments.
Often this requires the likes of a password-generating software so your employees can avoid creating passwords that are easy to guess. This software is called a password manager.
7. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Login credentials are sometimes not good enough to prevent cyber attacks. Multi-factor authentication asks users to provide more than one form of authentication to prove who they are.
There are a few different ways to do this. Some apps use security questions in addition to login credentials. These tend to ask questions related to the user’s childhood or other personal details.
Other apps use text or email authentication. They send you a code to your phone or email address and you enter this code in addition to your login information.
Note that SMS codes are usually not the best factor for authentication. Even a stranger looking over your shoulder can put your information at risk.
Time-based one-time passwords (TOTP) can be useful for mitigating such risks. These passwords only work once and they are active for only a short period of time.
Another method is biological authentication. This is when the app uses physical data, such as fingerprint or facial recognition.
Using multi-factor authentication decreases the likelihood that an attacker can access your business network.
8. Limit Access
Trust is everything. But for that very same reason, you should limit how much access employees have to sensitive business information. By giving more people access, you open more avenues for security breaches.
Only give employees access to the apps and data they absolutely need. You can always give someone more privileges if and when the need arises. This is a much safer model than giving everyone open access.
9. Turn On Firewalls
Firewalls are a basic line of defense on a computer system. But something as simple as turning off firewalls while working can leave you and your employees vulnerable.
Make it a required policy that all developers have firewalls on at all times for their work devices. Really, this might be the simplest way to guarantee some level of work from home cybersecurity, even at the smallest degree.
10. Encrypt Everything
There are a couple of ways to go about encrypting your information. The first is through employee devices. By requesting that your employees encrypt their devices when an employee device is lost or stolen, no one will be able to access its data.
Secondly, you should encrypt the backups of any software and hardware you have that is connected to your business. Whether your business is managing an app, website, or hard drive, these things do fail or otherwise get infected by malware.
Your work-from-home cybersecurity plan should include a data backup plan. But even your backups are not always safe. Encrypt backups as well to avoid a data breach.
What To Do If a Breach Happens
When you’re working with distributed teams, having security measures can help you prevent a data breach. But sometimes a breach happens anyway, and when it does, you’ll need a response plan.
Here are a few of the scenarios where you should plan for breaches for work from home cybersecurity:
- A developer loses a device.
- An unauthorized party accesses your infrastructure.
- A team member is ‘let go’ under unfriendly circumstances.
These scenarios can result in negative consequences for your business and it’s your responsibility to respond to them appropriately.
Sometimes this means being ready to disable user accounts, take a server offline, or shut down production entirely.
In essence, you’ll want to do whatever is necessary to contain the breach and make certain further information isn’t put in jeopardy.
These procedures should be documented in clear company policy.
Preventive and containment measures should give you a leg up on any security issues you face with your remote development team.
Some of these measures include:
- Raising awareness of security issues through documentation and meetings dedicated to the topic
- Using new and clever software like a VPN, cloud services, and/or multi-factor authentication to increase security
- Being prepared for common attacks, not only by preventing them but by having a plan in effect to respond to them
Hopefully, these guidelines will be advantageous in meeting that objective. Trio is committed to helping you with your business needs.
While getting your software built is our main concern, we also care that your software is secure.
Contact us today to talk more about your project! We guarantee you that we can fulfill your needs — from work from home cybersecurity to completing your next software development project.