5 Reasons Remote Workers Are Driving Network Security Professionals Crazy
By Anna Johansson
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The hardest part of being a security professional is thwarting preventable attacks caused by user error. Remote workers are especially prone to making these mistakes, and they’re driving security professionals crazy.
1. Remote workers struggle to understand their role
Everyone in the tech world understands the advantage IoT systems provide to businesses looking to make data-driven decisions. However, few understand the importance of cybersecurity regarding the collection and storage of that data. Many believe cybersecurity is reserved for network professionals – not business owners and employees. Unfortunately, that’s a dangerous belief to hold.
The general consensus in society is that software developers and networks specialists are responsible for data security – not the end user. In a perfect world that would be true, but unfortunately, it’s not.
Software developers and network professionals can’t do everything. There will always be points of vulnerability that only users can protect. For example, a secure network doesn’t matter when a user’s laptop filled with company data is stolen. Likewise, a secure laptop won’t protect unencrypted data from being stolen off a public Wi-Fi network.
Although remote workers have responsibilities, security teams are ultimately responsible for enforcing policies and creating new systems if policies can’t be enforced. This is frustrating for security professionals because it requires the development of complex security features that limit access based on IP address, device, and role.
2. Remote employees love using public Wi-Fi
Some remote workers don’t know that they play a role in protecting company data, and regularly put that data at risk by using public Wi-Fi. Users get away with using public Wi-Fi because it’s unenforceable for the most part.
The only way to enforce the prohibition of public Wi-Fi use is to lock down access to all company assets, servers, and email accounts by restricting logins to a list of approved IP addresses. Users can submit an IP address for review, and if the company approves, it will be added to the “allowed” list. This way, nobody can log in to any company asset from public Wi-Fi. An employee can perform work locally on their machine, but they can’t access or upload documents to any part of the company’s network until they log on from an approved IP address.
3. Remote workers opt for convenience
It’s hard work to follow a security protocol outside of the office. With 3.7 million employees working from home, that’s over three-and-a-half million people potentially putting their employer’s business at risk every day. Most remote workers are unaware they’re putting company data at risk in the first place. They’re simply working as conveniently as possible.
Using public Wi-Fi sacrifices security for convenience. However, the convenience only lasts for a while. Remote employees who work from coffee shops quickly become distracted by chaotic public environments. Instead of working from coffee shops, many remote employees have transitioned to coworking. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for companies to promote, reward, or even pay for coworking spaces for remote employees.
Coworking provides the convenience of Wi-Fi outside the home, but it’s usually a secured network shared by other working professionals. If you’re a remote worker or a company looking for a quiet workspace for your employees, check out Expansive to find a coworking space near you.
4. Many remote employees don’t understand network threats
Working in a casual environment can lower some people’s guards when it comes to network security. Most people understand the danger of downloading unknown files, but there are plenty more security threats to watch out for — such as phishing, rootkit, and SQL injection.
If remote employees understood all potential threats, they’d be more careful when handling company data on public Wi-Fi, and they probably wouldn’t be so quick to download free software programs without thorough research.
5. Encryption is secure but inconvenient
The bad news is it’s virtually impossible to protect yourself from hackers. The good news is, encrypting your data makes it impossible for hackers to access the information they steal. The only problem is making the effort to encrypt everything.
While ensuring end-to-end encryption should be the standard for all remote workers, it’s not. If an employee won’t go out of their way to encrypt company emails while using public Wi-Fi, the company’s network security specialist will need to install (and pay for) third-party software that automatically encrypts all emails sent and received over the company server.
Network security is a thankless job
Nobody envies the job of a cybersecurity expert. It’s never-ending and often thankless. Today’s workforce doesn’t have time to worry about taking more than basic security precautions. Although users need to be diligent, businesses will still need to rely on the perpetual task of upgrading and enforcing security protocols to keep their data safe.