Wednesday 24 March 2021

Reducing Human Error Security Threats with a Remote Workforce

Article by Beau Peters

For better or worse, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we work and our corresponding cybersecurity needs. Now, millions of us across the world are adapting to remote work. And this requires securing our networks for the new normal of IT infrastructures.

Surprisingly, a large portion of cyberattacks can be best prevented by reducing the risks to a remote workforce created by human error. Lack of employee knowledge, distraction, and neglect all can leave remote networks vulnerable.

While there is no way to guarantee against data breaches, securing the human element can help mitigate security threats and improve the integrity of your remote work systems. This article will explore not only the cost of human error but the practices you can employ to prevent it.

The Cybersecurity Cost of Human Error
While many security executives agree that ransomware poses the greatest threat to security infrastructure, a majority believes that human error is the greatest risk to their business operations. In a survey of UK&I CISOs, 55% said that human error posed a risk no matter what protections are in place.

Damaging employee mistakes often come in the form of clicking or downloading malicious content, interacting with phishing emails, and unauthorized use of a device or app. In the shift to remote work, these risks can be even more damaging, as they have the potential to take down entire networks, increase downtime, and result in massive security costs.

With an estimated 900% increase in ransomware attacks during the first half of 2020 alone, hackers are stepping up their game to infiltrate vulnerable systems. On average, these attacks cost even smaller businesses as much as £520,000 ($713,000). This makes securing systems and employee behaviour against these attacks an important cost savings priority.

Fortunately, there are plenty of simple strategies you can employ in your tech processes to mitigate the risks of staff error, even while working remotely.
How to Reduce Human Error

Reducing human error to alleviate cybersecurity risk can be done through a few different approaches. From creating an employee education program to enhancing your application of modern tech, your remote workforce can interact more safely with your virtual workspace. These five strategies can help you reduce human error security threats:

1. Invest in Employee Education
Employee education is one of your best tools in combating the risks posed by human error. As technology changes, so do the phishing and social engineering methods of scammers and hackers. No matter how up-to-date on trends in cyber threats your workforce is, an employee education program can be a great way to increase employee awareness.

Create an employee cybersecurity education program or find a third-party course to provide your employees with some additional training. As a result, they can approach their remote work more cautiously.

2. Follow Cybersecurity Best Practices
Employee education is also a great place to instil a pattern of best practices surrounding cybersecurity. These will be a necessary foundation for ensuring that cybersecurity is considered in every aspect of the business. For remote workers, these best practices include:
  • Understand the resources and IT staff available to you.
  • Always use a virtual private network (VPN).
  • Build an authorization system that is secure and traceable.
  • Encrypt all sensitive materials.
  • Secure systems over cloud databases.
Build these practices into company culture to give your employees better methods to approach security.

3. Utilise Highly Secure Infrastructures
Cloud databases are a must-have with a remote workforce. These ecosystems make data communication and storage simple and functional outside of an office, and with the right security protocols, they can also make cybersecurity easy.

A decentralized system like blockchain, for example, provides access and communication from anywhere all in an environment secured by cryptographic links. At the same time, immutable data storage offers greater transparency into access and authorization tracking.

Employing secure infrastructures like blockchain can go a long way in reducing the risk of human error through better security overall.

4. Provide Security Tools and Understanding
The success of your team in securely handling data often comes down to the tools they have to work with. For remotely working teams, additional challenges and distractions add to the risk of human error. That risk, however, can be better reduced by the right communication tools and strategies. These include:
  • Collaboration software for check-ins and cybersecurity reviews
  • Project management tools to track workflow and system access
  • Video conferencing tools with multi-factor authentication and encryption potential
Choosing the right tools requires a review of how each platform allows for foolproof security measures. Then, reviewing these measures and how workers can support them will assist in reducing human error.

5. Constantly Stress Cybersecurity
Finally, review and stress cybersecurity concerns with your employees on a regular basis. Mention best practices in all your meetings, and even create metrics and incentive programs aimed at promoting better security.

With all the distractions surrounding remote workers, they need a reason to make cybersecurity a focus of their everyday efforts. Provide helpful tools like VPNs to all your remote workers and ensure they are supported by renewed education regarding best practices.

While human error can never be fully eliminated, these strategies can help you reduce the risk to your own systems. Stress the importance of thinking before you click in all your systems and practices, and choose the right tools to support these efforts. With cybersecurity best practices built into the culture of your remote workforce, you can better keep employees and their data protected.

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