Cybersecurity Concerns for Your Remote Workforce

April 19, 2022 | Antique Nguyen

With the increase in volume of remote employees for many employers during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies may be putting themselves at risk for data and security breaches. Employees that work remotely and were onboarded remotely may not get the same level of data security training and the use of personal devices to access company networks can make it easier for hackers to breach online security parameters.

Remote-access technologies are simply exposed to more external threats. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, organizations “should assume that malicious parties will gain control of telework client devices and attempt to recover sensitive data from them or leverage the devices to gain access to the enterprise network.”


Specific Areas of Weakness for Cybersecurity Threats

A commissioned study of more than 1,300 security leaders, business executives and remote employees conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Tenable, Beyond Boundaries: The Future of Cybersecurity in the New World of Work, found that 74% of organizations attribute recent business-impacting cyberattacks to remote work tech vulnerabilities.

According to the report, cloud services and apps, personal devices and remote access tools have essentially eliminated organizations’ security perimeters, resulting in more cyberattacks and compromise as IT departments struggle to manage the new technologies. Additionally, over half of remote workers use a personal device to access work data, and 71% of security leaders lack sufficient visibility into remote employee home networks, leading to a large portion of cyber attacks (67%) targeting remote employees.

Cloud solutions are common for dispersed teams, but 80% of security and business leaders believe moving business-critical functions to the cloud elevated their risk; 62% of organizations suffered business-impacting attacks involving cloud assets. Third-party software has also been a source of cybersecurity gaps; 65% of security and business leaders attribute recent cyberattacks to a third-party software compromise; 61% report increased risk due to their expanded software supply chain.


How to Protect Company Networks in a New Era of Remote Work

Protecting your company from cyberattacks is an ongoing process, whether your employees are home or in the office. As quickly as third-party software providers and cloud storage solutions can roll out new security measures, hackers are already looking for new ways to infiltrate company networks.

The most important feature of your security policy: All employees should be made aware of and trained to detect potential cybersecurity threats, especially since phishing attacks (malware delivered through a link in a seemingly innocuous email) have dramatically increased during the past two years. Training should occur during the remote onboarding phase as well as at regular intervals for your entire organization. Some companies even do simulation training or regularly create fake phishing attempts internally to keep employees on their toes about these threats.

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) recommends focusing on the following areas to enhance security for your remote workforce:

    • Setting up and communicating remote-work security policies.
    • Ensure remote employees are using work computers to access company networks rather than their own devices.
    • Securing virtual private networks (VPNs) to have encrypted, secure connections to company servers.
    • Regulating personal-device use.
    • Addressing authorization and authentication.
    • Training employees on how to avoid phishing and malware campaigns.
    • Securing communication and collaboration channels.
    • Providing vigilant IT support.


Data protection is one of the highest stakes areas of compliance for any company. According to SHRM, state laws are the primary source of potential identity-theft liability for employers. “State laws in this area are a patchwork collection and are neither uniform nor completely consistent,” said Patrick Fowler, an attorney with Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix, in an interview with SHRM Online. California and Massachusetts have been more active than other states in passing data privacy legislation, but virtually all of the states have data breach notification laws. Employers should make sure they know what is required under relevant state laws.

When selecting a vendor that manages data, such as candidate and employee data collected during a background screen or criminal background check, it’s important to work with a verified company with certification in the industry and a pristine reputation. Because your third-party vendors are collecting data on behalf of your company, they must be as vigilant (if not more so) in protecting that data. Companies like Cisive not only ensure data security, they can also help with recruiting database integration best practices to advise your company on best practices for maintaining secure transmission and exchange of data.

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