Your I.T. team may have no problem managing your network when everyone is centralized in an office, but an entire workforce commuting virtually introduces a number of complications -- cyberattacks chief among them.
Work-from-home setups are generally less secure than those in the office, creating easy prey for hackers. According to a survey conducted by email security firm Tessian, nearly one half of all businesses experienced some kind of digital disruption between March and July 2020 during the height of remote work. Disruptions that frequent are bound to lead to leaks in revenue if you're not careful.
1. Worker Productivity Losses
A cyberattack at an employee's home may not necessarily hit your business directly (i.e., leading to a security breach of your company's data), but the impacts can still be felt. Cybercriminals may, for example, steal the identity of one of your workers.
According to data from the Identity Theft Resource Center, one third of workers who have their identity stolen experience workplace problems in the aftermath -- trouble focusing, subsequent financial issues, and time spent re-securing their identity all impact how well an employee performs on the job. That means an indirect attack on your business can lead to direct security and productivity losses.
If your workers' home networks are vulnerable or under attack, they're not going to be able to do their best work. Your revenue stream has the potential to become smaller each time a security breach stifles productivity through lost clients, missed deadlines, and squandered leads -- not to mention the fact that every cyberattack on an employee of yours working from home represents a possible cyberattack on your business writ large.
2. IoT Infiltrations
The growing popularity of the Internet of Things amplifies these risks even further. Everything from doorbells to lights to garage-door openers can now be consolidated onto a central network. Since these devices have no built-in security of their own, this gives potential hackers ample opportunities for infiltration. Wi-Fi solutions and A.I. security provider Plume reports that there has been a 73 percent increase in home-network activity during workday hours compared to before the pandemic -- and more activity means a greater chance of a network breach. A network breach could do anything from halt work processes to intercept confidential company data, two phenomena that do not bode well for a business's balance sheet.
This doesn't mean that there aren't protections available. A.I.-powered security systems that were once reserved for enterprise solutions are now becoming available for homes. OpenSync, for example, is an open-source services delivery platform that connects in-home hardware to the cloud, which enables service providers to offer cutting-edge cybersecurity directly to residential subscribers. With the recent explosion in work-from-home policies, though, more and more competitors will be entering the secure Wi-Fi space in the coming months.
3. Ransomware Attacks
Recent ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and Invenergy have shone a spotlight on how big businesses can take huge hits if they're unprepared, but it's not just the blue chips that hackers have in their sights. In 2019, insurance provider Hiscox found that the average losses resulting from a cyberattack clocked in at $369,000, up 61 percent from the year prior, with medium-sized businesses targeted alongside big ones.
Losses in that range could spell doom for mid-sized companies running on tight budgets, but advanced cybersecurity solutions may not look too friendly to your balance sheet either -- especially if it's a number of different homes that need protecting. Ransomware infiltrations will always be easier to pull off on home networks than they will be on well-protected office networks. Unfortunately, there's no simple fix here.
Your business can't afford to go completely undefended, so some cybersecurity software is necessary for your teams, whether they're remote or not. Select one or more cybersecurity systems for your employees to install in their homes and fully reimburse them for doing so. Consider asking your I.T. team to have "office hours" where employees can talk to them one-on-one for help installing and updating their systems. The easier you make it and the more incentives you offer, the more likely it is that your entire workforce will opt for strong protection.
Even the best cybersecurity software, though, can't neutralize every possible threat. It's on company leadership to emphasize and reemphasize best practices to your team: Don't freely reveal company information, don't open emails from suspicious accounts, and keep networks as secure as possible. The less you expose yourself to risks, the less likely it is that you'll need expensive software to protect you from them.
Economies may be reopening, but remote work is staying put. If you don't want your business to be a sitting duck, roll with the punches and start thinking about how to do cybersecurity remotely -- your revenue will thank you for it.