5 Key Cybersecurity Challenges When Managing a Remote Workforce

5 Key Cybersecurity Challenges When Managing a Remote Workforce

After a year of uncertainty, if anything is for sure it’s that remote and hybrid work environments are here to stay.

In a recent survey by Forbes, 97% of employees said they don’t want to return to the office, citing higher productivity and a boost in morale when working from home. For leaders, this means that adopting a hybrid structure permanently will prove essential when it comes to hiring and retaining talent. 

Although the benefits for both employers and employees are clear, opening up enterprise systems to remote environments also introduces a series of challenges for IT teams to contend with. If organizations are looking to permanently transition to a hybrid workforce, they’ll need to plan for and mitigate the following risks:

1. Cyberattacks on collaborative tools

Although the frequency of cyberattacks has steadily been on the rise in recent years, there’s never been a surge quite as high as the one organizations are experiencing today.

In an effort to support a remote work infrastructure, leaders are increasingly relying on cloud technology and the use of remote connectivity tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs). 

Although necessary for day-to-day operations, experts at Help Net Security expect these tools are linked to the 630% increase in threat events from external actors. The majority of these attacks targeted collaboration services like Microsoft 365, and were large-scale attempts to access organization-wide cloud accounts with stolen credentials.

To take a more proactive stance to these attacks, organizations should look toward cloud-enabled anti-virus solutions that can be deployed securely and remotely.

2. Personal Wi-Fi networks

Increasingly, employees are logging on to enterprise networks and accessing data on their personal devices and Wi-Fi networks. Dark Reading, a subsidiary of Information Week, cautions that this practice puts an organization at risk of falling victim to “wardriving.” In this attack, hackers are able to steal Wi-Fi credentials from unsecured networks simply by driving by people’s homes and offices, giving them full access to corporate data. 

To protect your employees and any sensitive data your organization is responsible for, it’s important to create clear device use protocols that outline best practices for securing home Wi-Fi. This includes setting up their home-office router with “WPA2-PSK,” a type of network protected by an encrypted password.

3. Patch management

Patches, the necessary software and hardware upgrades released by vendors to solve security or performance issues, often go by the wayside when left to the individual user.

A study by ServiceNow revealed that in 2019 alone, 60% of all data breaches were linked to a vulnerability where a patch was available, but not yet applied at an enterprise level. Often, users unintentionally forget to make these updates on their own, as they can take time out of the day, leaving them without a workstation for an unknown period of time.

By monitoring for upgrades and automatically deploying patches as soon as they become available, you can minimize the threat of a security-related update going unnoticed and leaving a vulnerability open for a hacker to take advantage of.

4. Weak password protocols

Poor password hygiene is one of the most widespread challenges organizations face in their transition to a hybrid work environment. 

In one report from Help Net Security, almost 35% of employees admitted to capturing their passwords on their smartphones, with another 20% reporting that they used the same login credentials across multiple work systems. These habits significantly increase the risk of sensitive data leaking if even one password is compromised or stolen.

Leveraging two-factor authentication and providing employee education surrounding best practices when it comes to password hygiene can help minimize the threat of a brute-force attack.

5. Restoring end-user devices after an attack

One of the most difficult aspects of maintaining cybersecurity when managing a remote workforce is identifying, isolating and restoring a device after a successful attack. 

The average time it takes organizations to recover from a ransomware incident is over two weeks, reports ZDNet. This period can last even longer depending on the severity of the attack, as the process of remediation and restoration requires highly manual labor as IT teams work to back up and restore data. For administrators who are already under the strain of supporting newly remote infrastructures, this downtime can be especially costly.

One of the best approaches to cybersecurity is to take a proactive stance rather than waiting for an incident to happen. At Faronics, our reboot-to-restore Deep Freeze technology allows end users to restore their workstations with a push of a button, resetting the device to the configurations set by your administrators. With our centralized deployment and management features, your IT team can have complete visibility into your enterprise network without ever coming into physical contact with the device.

If you’re working to transition your team to a fully remote or hybrid structure, contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive suite of security solutions.

About The Author

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, expert on Reboot Restore Technology when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.

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