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Remote worker at risk of causing a data breach
Posted on May 28, 2020 by in Breach Response, Business, Corporate ID Protection, Employee Benefits, ID Protection Tips & Awareness, Security Compliance

Securing a new remote workforce is just one of the many challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created, signaling the perfect storm for businesses and employees around data security. According to Owl Labs, 31 percent of companies indicate that  COVID-19 triggered a work-from-home policy for the first time, and only 23 percent of employees say their company had work-from-home protocols in place to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak. An increase of information being shared through home networks — and the ever-blurring lines between personal and work devices and environments — means sensitive personal and business information is more vulnerable than ever with an influx of coronavirus scams targeting consumers and employees.

Cyberthieves are tuned in, and they are taking advantage. In fact, there has been a 350% increase in active phishing websites this year alone. Scammers are using today’s unstable environment to their advantage, layering coronavirus themes into their tried and true methods to steal data and fool their victims — hook, line, and sinker. What’s even more telling, 80% of scam emails are using COVID-19 messages, and there were over 300,000 new suspicious COVID-19 websites created over a two week period in March.

The Pros & Cons of Remote Work

Whether it’s from a home office or within a coworking space, employees are able to work from outside of the corporate office’s four walls at any time. In fact, according to a survey of 18,000 professionals across 96 international companies, 70 percent of people were working remote at least one day a week prior to the coronavirus outbreak. This trend has afforded the flexibility employees need when they have a long commute or scheduling conflicts that require a remote option. It has also allowed companies to expand their recruiting capabilities. However, there are downsides to telecommuting that have caused some organizations to reevaluate remote working policies perhaps in the future, perhaps post COVID-19.

For large corporations especially, communication and collaboration can be difficult when some team members aren’t present in the office. A survey by Cyberlink reported that 41 percent of workers said misinterpreting electronic communications was a major concern of remote work. And, when key information and decisions get missed out on, productivity, morale, and profitability suffer.

Corporations like Yahoo, Bank of America, Aetna, and IBM have placed an emphasis on facetime and in-person teamwork by reducing or even terminating their telecommuting programs. However, again, that was pre-COVID-19.

Off-site Workers, Online Risk 

No matter where the office space is located or the devices being used to engage with work, the amount of data being transmitted across the web is overwhelming. From laptops to mobile phones, tablets, smartwatches, and beyond, every connected device that people use to work presents a potential new vulnerability. And, the number of devices connected to IP networks will be more than three times the global population by 2021.

Mobile devices and applications are a particular source of concern. Hackers often prey upon people who blindly trust the apps they download from the app stores, giving them access to Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and the ability to infiltrate the corporate networks. And, Cisco’s 2018 Annual Cybersecurity Report found that threats from mobile devices are the hardest to defend against.

As a result, the volume and velocity of cyberattacks have spurred IT and InfoSec professionals to seek new ways to mitigate the risks that may expose sensitive corporate data and PII. Our Chief Information Security Officer, Steve Turner, explains what steps employers can take to help avoid a data breach in one of his blogs: 5 Training Keys for Cyberattack Defense to Help Protect Your Employees.

Mitigate the Threat with ID Theft Protection for Your Employees

Not only are data breaches expensive, but they are also embarrassing and jeopardize the identity of employees, customers, and partners. It takes just two pieces of PII for fraudsters to commit synthetic identity theft – the fastest growing type of ID fraud. And, no organization can fully defend against cybercrime.

What they can do is be proactive about protecting their workforce with a high-value benefit that resonates with current and prospective employees. Identity theft protection is expected to be offered by 63 percent of employers by 2021.

I encourage you to try IdentityForce’s top-rated identity theft protection to learn more about how it can benefit your employees and ensure further protection of both confidential personal and business information. Get started with a Free Business Trial today.

Additionally, if you’d like to prepare now in case there is a future security incident within your organization, I recommend our Rapid Response Breach Program.

**Originally published November 9, 2018. Updated May 28, 2020.**