Remote Work in 2021: Preparing for the Risks

One of the most significant outcomes of COVID-19 was the acceleration of the digital business shift. All indications were that remote work would be the future, but nobody planned on the transitioning happening so fast. 

The speed to transition was impressive, but it left some open doors for criminals looking for soft spots like anything rushed. With the mass remote work migration came a significant increase in cyber threats, from phishing attempts and a 128% increase in malware activity in Q3. 

In the U.S., nearly 5 million employees are now working from home at least half the week. 62% of employees between ages 22 and 65 work remotely on occasion. 44% say that part of their team is working remotely full-time. 

The migration to the cloud will continue, and so will the cloud-based security threats. We’re seeing record cyber insurance purchases in response to the rise in cyberattacks. Organizations that want to mitigate financial risks from cyberattacks are buying cyber insurance policies without hesitation. Artificial intelligence (AI) is stepping up to the plate to help with the massive cybersecurity skills shortage.​​​​​​ 

With remote access being the new normal, critical employees and companies exercise all available options to mitigate cyber-attacks.  

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How to manage cybersecurity risks for your remote teams

In the context of security risks from your remote teams, there are some common ways it happens. Educating your employees on how cybercriminals operate is the first layer of protection from a cyber-attack. 

Phishing attacks

Scams from phishing attacks are one of the leading causes of company data breaches. It’s not an overly sophisticated attack and only works with the help of an employee. Typically, an employee unknowingly clicks on an email that seems legitimate but, in reality, is a hacker’s email link or attachment. It results in giving the hacker access to important data.  

File transfers

Employees often transfer files between work and personal devices. This can lead to sensitive information being stored on a device that the company does not have access to.

Weak passwords

We hear this one all the time, and it persists. Employees using weak passwords is one of the most common ways cybercriminals breach a network. Make sure your company has a password policy that requires multi-factor authentication. Several “password vault” security programs create and store strong passwords, so employees don’t need to worry about having a long list of complicated passwords to remember.

Remote-collaboration tools

Zoom, Google Hangouts, and other video conferencing software are pretty much mandatory now. But they come with a risk that needs to be addressed. Hangouts have experienced privacy issues and a problem known as “Zoom Bombing,” where a cybercriminal joins a virtual meeting. In some cases, the access allows the rouge hacker to access sensitive information. Hackers are also targeting remote workers with fake Zoom downloaders.


Firewalls act as a strong line of defense to prevent threats from entering your network. They create a barrier between your employees’ devices and the internet by closing off ports to communication. This can help prevent malicious programs from entering and stop data leaking from employee devices.

Antivirus software

Always use robust antivirus software and keep it updated. As strong as firewalls are, threats can still get through. Advanced antivirus software is the next line of defense as it detects and blocks malware. 

Cyber insurance: The final layer of protection

Even when you train your employees and implement all of the recommended security tools, mistakes happen. People click on a link by mistake or they share a file in an unsecured way. Passwords are not protected. Most cyber criminals gain access by sitting in the shadows and waiting for someone to make an honest mistake. What will you do when an error occurs, and you are faced with a ransomware attack?

Most professional liability insurance policies provide a “false sense of security” and don’t provide you the coverage you need when sensitive information is exposed.

Cyber insurance protects your organization when everything else fails by providing vetted service providers, legal, and notification experts. It pays for both your firm’s response to the breach and for the damages a breach may cause your clients. Learn more about McGowanPRO programs here.