The modern business environment is dynamic and ever evolving. What was once best practice can become irrelevant in a hurry as the latest and greatest developments swoop in to shift the tide of progress. These progressions are often cutting-edge innovations and technological advancements meant to improve the working world while offering new and improved ways for organizations of all sizes to conduct business as usual.
It’s an exciting time to be in business, but the same dynamics also present a world full of possibilities for scammers and thieves. Evolution cuts both ways, and right alongside growth comes a plethora of new cyberthreats that can impact organizations as they adapt to meet any prevailing workflow patterns of the times. The rise of work from home models, cloud-based services, and ongoing email threats all come with inherent issues and possible problems relating to business-centric cyber fraud.
Work from Home is Here to Stay
The work from home model (also known as “WFH”) was an immerging trend throughout the last decade, but the events of 2020 have solidified that trend moving forward. The many adaptations that organizations across the world have implemented to meet the needs of a virtual workplace leads to this becoming more the norm than the exception for employers and employees of all kinds.
A cyber workplace results in an obvious rise in cybersecurity threats. Remote working environments rarely have the same level of safeguards in place as does an in-office environment. This can make it easier for criminals and threat actors to infiltrate a system because there simply isn’t as much security in place when an employee is working from home. A single employee falling victim to a cyber threat can have a trickle effect back up the chain and into the rest of the organization.
Proper knowledge, training, and education are critical with this threat in mind. Employees may not take work-related security issues as seriously as they do their own personal safeguards and protections. By stressing a few areas of importance, it’s possible to keep WFH security measures more in mind.
- Instruct employees to avoid public Wi-Fi when possible as its usage can increase potential security problems. A public network will have multiple users without a firewall, and there is always the potential for localized hacking or traffic monitoring issues. Using a personal hotspot or VPN can limit some of this risk, but work from home should be taken literally and not as “work from café.”
- Use a work computer if possible. Using a different device strictly for work, an employee can limit the potential risks of using a personal computer for work. If an employee has access to sensitive or critical data, this is even more important. Oftentimes this isn’t an option, so make sure to stress the importance of secure Wi-Fi, encryption, anti-virus software, and VPN use.
Cloud-Based Security Issues
Another matter closely related to virtual work environments is increased use of and reliance on cloud-based systems. Cloud services are highly convenient for a remote workplace or team, and many organizations rely nearly entirely on these services to conduct everyday business and communications. Unfortunately, these systems are also a prime target for threat actors to gain access to personal and organizational data.
Microsoft 365 is one of the most commonly used business-related cloud-based services. It provides many tools that organizations can use to boost efficiency, productivity, and communication in a virtual environment. 365 has seen widespread use over the last year but it has also generated headlines as a result of security issues with the program. According to one report, 85% of organizations that use the software have experienced an email data breach in the last year. The report also states that Microsoft 365 users have an increased likelihood of “incidents caused by an employee sharing data in error via email,” which is another inherent problem with cloud-based virtual business software.
While Microsoft disputes some of the findings in this report, the security issues surrounding the 365 Program are well-documented and fairly widespread. This isn’t the only cloud-based service with security issues, and every organization should be aware of the risks that come with using any similar service or program. Adobe Creative Cloud, Slack, and Evernote have all experienced recent data breaches, as well.
Cloud based services will continue to grow in use, with the cloud computing industry is expected to approach nearly $1 trillion by 2025. It has never been more critical to have data breach defenses in place for businesses, and if your organization deals with cloud computing or storage services, some common risks include:
- Malware infections. These can lead to a targeted attack on your organization or your customers, ranging from simple attacks to gain access to personal information or more extreme incidents of ransomware that can cripple business activities.
- Intellectual property theft or loss. Valuable information is often stored in the cloud knowingly and unknowingly. If your organization stores sensitive data in the cloud, a breach can result in total or partial compromise of valuable trade information.
- Compliance and regulatory issues. There is an increasing number of rules and regulations surrounding data security. If you have a business that stores any private customer personal information, you are probably subject to certain rules meant to keep that data safe. A lack of compliance can lead to hefty fines and other penalties.
Ongoing Email Threats
One of the older scams in the book is still alive and well in the virtual work environment. Email cyberthreats in many forms affect businesses of all sizes every day. From phony links and SPAM to Phishing attacks, email threats may seem somewhat benign but can lead to more significant data breaches and other issues.
Many of these email threats look to gain access to personal information through infectious malware. Serious ransomware attacks can also occur through work email scams and security issues. Every company should back up its data regularly to get a leg up on any potential ransomware issues.
Working from home and the cloud-based services that facilitate that increasingly prevalent work trend is here to stay, and so are the security issues that come with them. By understanding the inherent risks involved with this new model and the software that makes the virtual workplace tick, you can give your organization an advantage in its cyber defenses.
LibertyID is the leader in identity theft restoration, having restored the identities of tens of thousands of individuals without fail. If you retain personal information on your customers, now is the time to get data breach planning and a response program in place with our LibertyID for Small Business data breach preparation program. With LibertyID Enterprise you can now add value to existing products, services, or relationships by covering your customers, employees, or members with LibertyID’s fully managed identity theft restoration service – at a fraction of our retail price – with no enrollment and no file sharing. We have no direct communication with your group members – until they need us.
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