Remote working carries data breach risk for companies

Experts concerned spreading workers across more locations may be potential security risk

Working from home can present new security challenges for both companies and individual users, especially if they aren’t used to doing so. Photograph: iStock

Working from home can present new security challenges for both companies and individual users, especially if they aren’t used to doing so. Photograph: iStock

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Companies planning to continue remote working in the coming months need to be on their guard for potential data breaches, experts have warned.

With some 83 per cent of workers expressing an interest in remote working once the coronavirus pandemic subsides, concerns are heightened that spreading workers across more locations presents a potential security risk.

“There has been incredible global disruption as a consequence of Covid-19. From a data and information and cyber security perspective there has also been incredible disruption. It’s unprecedented,” said Ronan Murphy, founder of GetVisibility.

Getvisibility maps and identifies unstructured data, giving companies a better idea of what data they hold and where. Its global client base includes clients in Ireland, Britain, Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Working from home can present new security challenges for both companies and individual users, especially if they aren’t used to doing so. Having so much out of the ordinary is, he says, the perfect breeding ground for hackers.

“Because of the level of disruption, if you are a hacking group, you do well in this type of environment. It’s very easy for these guys to prey on people’s emotions,” he said. “All they have to do is compromise the user. The person doesn’t even have to be that important.”

Phishing emails

People are getting “bombarded” with phishing emails – where a malicious user tries to steal confidential details from a user by impersonating a legitimate sender or website – where before they could consult with colleagues about their legitimacy. With so many people working remotely, Mr Murphy says that is often not possible.

“They have to be aware all the time not to get caught out,” he said. “Companies can be so overwhelmed with trying to facilitate the remote working and collaboration tools, it’s like the perfect storm.”

“There is data everywhere now,” he said . “Do companies understand what data is flowing through their organisation, and is it their intellectual property or is it regulated data? They need to get a grip of their data and what data is going where.”

Ongoing training in terms of information governance is also critical, he said.

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