Should You Consider a Teleworker Security Risk Assessment?

Cybersecurity is a top concern for businesses and rightly so.

teleworker security risk assessment
With more of your employees working from home, you’ll need to take extra precautions when it comes to cybersecurity.

In 2019, the average cost of a data breach was $8.19 million.

Changes to a growing remote workforce during the coronavirus has only made it more imperative that businesses are vigilant with their IT environment.

When The KR Group’s clients were looking at what changes their business would need to make to adapt to social distancing restrictions, they turned to us for help. 

We worked with them to not only to set up their remote workforce but to secure one as well. 

By reading this article, you can begin to learn how to secure your remote workforce, too.

How has the coronavirus impacted cybersecurity?

The coronavirus created a perfect storm for cybersecurity.

Responding to the coronavirus pandemic required many businesses to enable a remote workforce. This meant these businesses had to rapidly expand their teleworker infrastructure or implement it in the first place.

Once this infrastructure was set up, more employees than ever were working from home. Each user’s remote connection represents another chance for an attacker to infiltrate your network. This is what security advisers often refer to as a “larger attack surface.”

At the same time, attackers were ready to take advantage of businesses relying on new technology and the general unease about current events going around.

With all of these variables, any vulnerability could mean a breach or attack is just a matter of time. 

To decrease our customer’s chance of being a victim of an attack, The KR Group’s security team began offering teleworker risk assessments.

These look at four areas of control – automated monitoring of security controls, data encryption, managed access control points, and privileged access and command control – to provide a risk-based list on how to strengthen your teleworker security posture.

But how do you know if this assessment is right for you? There are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Do you want a stronger security posture?
  2. Do you have a remote workforce?
  3. Do you have proprietary information at stake?

We think you’ll find that a teleworker assessment is meant for just about anyone, but later on, we’ll go over a couple of exceptions.

You want a stronger security posture

The whole purpose of any security risk assessment – teleworker assessments included – is to improve the customer’s security posture.

teleworker security risk assessment
During a teleworker security risk assessment, your adviser will look for vulnerabilities and recommend ways to address them.

During a teleworker risk assessment, your security adviser will spend eight hours looking for gaps and vulnerabilities within your remote workforce infrastructure.

The team then takes these discoveries and comes up with a list of risk-based recommendations to provide you with steps you can take to strengthen your security posture.

Since attackers are always evolving their methods, a security adviser can’t promise to prevent all future threats.

However, the actions your security report will recommend you take, including stricter access policies, more robust antivirus software, firewall implementation, etc., will address the most common ways attackers expose your network.

You have a remote workforce

Even before social distancing restrictions were put in place because of the coronavirus, remote workforces were gaining popularity.

However, the norm for most businesses was to have the majority of their employees working in a physical office space.

When the coronavirus forced the majority of the workforce to embrace a remote technology, employers quickly had to add or expand to their IT environment to enable the transition.

This quick transition meant businesses were using new technology and deploying it immediately. As we mentioned above, at the same time, attackers were aware of the rapid shift in technology and started working to take advantage of vulnerabilities.

Combine this with the increased attack surface we discussed earlier, and if you are lagging on security in any area, you can expect a breach.

A teleworker assessment is a great way to let a trusted security adviser find the vulnerabilities (and suggest ways to address them) before an attacker does.

You have proprietary information at stake

Speaking of attackers looking to expose vulnerable companies, you should consider what sensitive information you have that an attacker could compromise.

Generally, financial institutions have the biggest risk since hacking their network could mean financial gain for that attacker but a financial loss on the company’s end.

However, money isn’t the only thing an attacker can gain if they infiltrate your network.

They may not be as tangible as money, but proprietary information, employee data, trade secrets, patent information, customer data, and personal health information are all things stored on your network, which means they’re things an attacker could gain access to.

That means no matter what industry you’re in – manufacturing, healthcare, financial – a teleworker assessment can help you protect your most sensitive data.

Who’s not a good candidate?

A teleworker assessment is a great fit for many businesses who are looking to identify vulnerabilities and ultimately resolve them, but there are a couple of candidates who wouldn’t benefit from this security offering.

1. Businesses who don’t have teleworkers

It’s obvious, but a teleworker assessment is specific to those customers who have a remote workforce.

If you don’t currently have a remote workforce but are considering setting one up in the future, you can ask your security adviser to give you tips for securing it as you build it.

Once it is in place, of course, we can assess your remote workforce technology for all the areas a teleworker assessment covers.

However, if you won’t ever rely on a remote workforce, a teleworker assessment isn’t something you’d benefit from. Instead, you might consider a comprehensive security risk assessment to look at all of your IT environment.

2. You know you need more of your IT environment assessed

One of the problems with a teleworker risk assessment is it doesn’t review every area of your network.

In fact, a teleworker assessment only analyzes your security posture in regards to your remote workforce infrastructure.

If you know you need more areas of your IT environment analyzed, you might want to consider a comprehensive security risk assessment from the beginning.

It will cost more and take longer than a teleworker assessment, but it also has a broader scope.

Is a Teleworker Assessment Right for You?

If you have a remote workforce, a teleworker assessment is something you should at least consider.

teleworker security risk assessment
Regardless of how old or new your remote workforce is, if you have one, you can benefit from a teleworker risk assessment.

This assessment will look for existing weaknesses within your remote workforce technology, which makes it especially beneficial for businesses that store sensitive information on their network. Common examples of these customers are financial institutions, healthcare organizations, and manufacturing businesses.

As valuable as this assessment is, if you don’t have a remote workforce, you won’t benefit from it.  And, if you need more than this one area of your IT environment analyzed, you may want to consider a comprehensive security risk assessment instead. 

For help determining which assessment is right for you, read our comparison article, “Teleworker Risk Assessment vs. Comprehensive IT Security Assessment [Differences & Similarities].”

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