Is Your Network Safe from Your Own Employees?

A company's employees are its most valuable asset. Unfortunately, they are also a company's biggest security risk. This is especially so with an increased number of employees working at home, on their own devices, during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

How an Employee Can Compromise Network Infrastructure

Organizations are rightly concerned about the risk that their employees pose to their cybersecurity. Kaspersky's IT Security Risks Survey found careless employees caused the largest number of serious security incidents (11%). Phishing and other social engineering aimed at employees were responsible for another 7%.

There are many ways that careless or less-aware employees can jeopardize a corporate network. This is especially so for employees working from home using their personal devices.

Phishing Scams

When an employee clicks on a phishing link and unwittingly supplies login credentials or other sensitive information, it can compromise the entire corporate network. These phishing scams are even more effective when employees are working from home, using their personal devices. According to a survey by Wakefield Research, 49% of workers admitted to clicking on a link from an unknown sender while at work – and 70% said they did so while at home.

Weak Passwords

Left to their own devices, employees tend to use short, easy-to-guess passwords – especially for their personal devices and accounts. Even though a company may insist on strong password protection on its corporate accounts and computers, attackers can still gain unauthorized access by hacking into employees' less well-protected personal devices.

Vulnerable Devices

Employees' personal devices are not always updated or protected. That makes them attractive targets for malicious actors' intent on hacking into a corporate network.

Mixing Work and Personal Data

When employees use their personal devices to conduct official business, sensitive work data may be mixed with more public personal data. Likewise, using work devices at home for personal activities can put corporate credentials and data at risk.

Best Practices to Safeguard Against an Attack

Companies can take several steps to protect against attacks resulting from employee error or oversight.

Require Strong Passwords and TFA

When personal devices are used to access company assets, it should require stronger password protection. Two-factor authentication should also be employed to make hacking into those devices more difficult.

Use Endpoint Protection

Endpoint protection scans all devices trying to access the network to identify and block those infected with malware. This protects the network from access from any and all compromised devices, especially employees' personal devices.

Keep All Devices and Software Up-to-Date

Keep bad actors from exploiting vulnerabilities in older software and hardware by employing network access controls. This ensures that all employees' personal devices, and all apps on those devices, is kept up-to-date.

Restrict Data Access

Not every employee needs access to all company assets. Manage access rights to allow only select employees access to sensitive data. This limits the number of exposed network assets.

What to Do if Your Network is Infected

Every business needs a contingency plan for what to do if their network is hacked or infected. When an attack is noticed, the plan needs to be put into place immediately.

An organization's contingency plan should include the following five elements to stabilize and recover from an attack:

  1. Physically disconnect the affected computer(s) from the network and check other computers and devices for possible infection
  2. Identify the cause of the attack, remove the infection, and ensure any remnants are not lingering in the system
  3. Secure all systems to ensure re-infection does not occur
  4. Check all data backups to see if they compromised then restore affected data from secure backups
  5. Document the attack, investigation, and recovery for future reference

The company should also utilize its public relations department to prepare a public response to the attack. Alert legal staff in case any lawsuits ensue.

The Importance of Offline Backups

One of the key steps in responding to an attack or infection is being able to restore any data affected by the attack. Many companies keep backup copies of their data on-premises, by backing up to a different computer or server. While this can be effective, it is not the most secure option; on-site backups can be equally affected by power outages, fires, natural disasters, and even computer attacks and infection.

A better solution is to supplement on-premises backups with offline backups. By backing up important data offline, you will always have backup data available no matter what happens in your main location.

Let James Imaging Protect Your Remote Office Network with Secure Managed Technology Services

James Imaging Systems has been providing innovative document imaging and printing solutions to Wisconsin businesses for over 40 years. We provide a wide variety of equipment and services to suit the needs of team members in your offices and those working from home.

Contact James Imaging Systems today to learn more about our selection of secure technology solutions!