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Remote Employees: Cyber Nightmares or Warriors?

Sep 17, 2020

Have employees who work from home? They have targets on their backs—their virtual ones, at least.

As the workforce was forced into a remote environment in March 2020, cyber crime rates exploded. The "bad actors" of the cyber world wasted no time in taking advantage of the COVID crisis to create new forms of virtual trickery.

Employees are presented with an average of 8.5 URLs to click per day. Benefit Advisors Network reported that, in March and April alone, tens of thousands of new COVID related domains were created daily, 90% of which were scams. More than 530,000 Zoom accounts were sold on the dark web. Malicious files with “Zoom” in the title increased by 2,000%, and there was a 105% increase in ransomware attacks. Specialist insurer Beazly reported that 60% of attacks were on the middle market (up 14%) in 2020’s second quarter. Healthcare, financial institutions, manufacturing, real estate and education were the industries affected the most.

Here’s the short version: cyber criminals are knocking on your door, and if you are not acting preventively, you are leaving that door wide open.

So what can you do?

Your best defense is at the front line. So train train train! Employees need to learn to spot trends of social engineering, phishing emails and ransomware tactics. Teach them to identify fake hyperlinks, inconsistent website domains, poor spelling and grammar, unusual requests... Don’t just teach them; test them. There are companies out there that will help you send fake phishing emails to your workforce to test where you are vulnerable and then provide additional training. Help your workforce increase their vigilance to stop cyber crime before it starts.

Have company policy on internet use and cyber security established, and train your employees on that, too. They should know your internet connection preferences, your password expectations and your attack-response procedures if they do fall subject to cyber crime.

Additionally, make sure you have appropriate hardware and software prevention in place. If you’re not utilizing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), antivirus software, spam filters, regular file backups, regular software updates and website security monitoring, you are at risk. If you think you have all the right hardware, but your remote employees are using antiquated modems at home to connect with unsecured remote desktop protocol, you might need to think again.

Need a refresher on what any of these things are? Want help assessing what you could do better? Interested in protecting yourself again cyber liability? Get out of disaster-response mode and contact your resident cyber security expert. You can make the targets on your employees’ backs much harder to hit.

 

This post is part of New World, New Strategy – a blog series to help your organization persist and thrive.  Check out the other posts here:

The Real Cost of Pandemic Fatigue
Surviving in Open Enrollment Pandemic
Remote Employees: Cyber Nightmares or Warriors?
End the Fire Drill and Move Your Organization Forward
Stop Buying Insurance by the Old Rules – "Best Practices" Aren't Helping You Now
To Return or Not Return to Work?