Eliminating Weak Security Links in the Chain of Remote Work with Secure Collaboration Tools

Anurag Lal Anurag Lal, President and CEO of Infinite Convergence.

Accessing business data from unsecure WiFi, using personal devices to conduct work and turning to unsecure collaboration apps for business communication are all security weak links in the era of remote work. These practices elevate the risk of cybersecurity issues, increase the threat landscape and provide entry points for data theft and cyberattacks. Using these entry points, threat actors may be able to intercept passwords and access sensitive business data, emails and messages.

As working from home and hybrid working arrangements become the post-pandemic norm for many enterprises, operationalizing security-first policies and tools is critical to protecting organizational data and assets. Deploying technology that can make secure collaboration simple and secure should be part of a holistic approach to addressing the modern threat landscape.

With the rapid shift to remote work many enterprises relied on employees to help secure their remote working environment. Home WiFi networks, in effect, became the corporate network. This won’t change anytime soon as one in four employees will continue to work from home through 2021, according to a December 2020 Upwork study.

This poses particular challenges as employees do not always know whether they are connected to a secure home network nor do they always check that their Wi-Fi connection is private and secure before accessing company data and systems. The shift to “work from anywhere” also opens up the risk exposure of employees connecting through open networks that are not password-protected, such as those hotspots found at cafes, coffee shops, hotels and airports. A global report from Tessian found that “over half (53%) of IT leaders are worried that employees will connect to public WiFi when working remotely. It appears these concerns are justified as the same study found that 58% of employees say they have either considered connecting to public WiFi or have already done so.”

The rise of the virtual workplace coupled with the use of home and public WiFi that leaves enterprises susceptible to cyberattacks creates a more complex and challenging environment for IT leaders working to keep enterprise data safe. A 2020 Remote Workforce Cybersecurity Report by Fortinet revealed that “32% of respondents found secure connectivity to be the most challenging aspect of telework.”

The increased security gaps created by remote working are also being exacerbated by employee bring your own device (BYOD) practices and use of unsecure collaboration tools - both of which increase security risk exposure. Research by Malwarebytes found that 20% of respondents faced a security breach as a result of a remote worker.

A recent study by LogMeIn conducted by IDG noted that there's room for improvement when it comes to cybersecurity and the effectiveness of remote work tools. The study revealed that the surge in remote work exposed 66% of respondents to cyber risks and that IT help desks are struggling to securely support workers as 31% of employees expect to use vulnerable devices when working remotely and 45% indicate they will rely exclusively on unsecured home Wi-Fi networks in 2021.

Commenting on this study, Barbara Call, Senior Director of Content Strategy and Operations at IDG Communications, Inc. said: “the study shows that IT leaders should prioritize remote access and support tools that minimize disruptions for remote workers and make users feel supported wherever and however they work.”

Secure collaboration platforms can play a key role in helping IT leaders do just that. Mobile messaging platforms like NetSfere ensure enterprises have the right collaboration infrastructure in place to protect data security and reliably support work from everywhere at scale.

Considering that global cybercrime costs are projected to grow by 15% over the next five years, reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, investing in a secure collaboration platform like NetSfere will go a long way in helping organizations eliminate a significant weak link in the chain of enterprise security.

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