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  • 29 February 2024
  • 7 min read

Remote workers: Balancing productivity and efficiency with cyber security

How does remote working affect cyber security? What are the most common cyber security risks associated with remote working and how can you mitigate them without damaging employee productivity and efficiency levels?
HEADER remote worker

With remote working becoming increasingly prevalent, cyber security solutions that offer flexibility and freedom are like gold dust.

In this article, we delve into the intricate relationship between remote work, productivity, and cyber security, emphasising the crucial role of awareness and training in mitigating potential threats.

How does remote working affect cyber security?

The rise of remote working has blurred the lines between personal and professional environments, creating unique vulnerabilities that cyber criminals are quick to exploit.

From phishing attacks targeting unsuspecting employees to the risks posed by compromised personal Wi-Fi networks, the challenges are manifold. Neglecting system updates, susceptibility to DDoS attacks, and the absence of employee monitoring further compound these risks. Additionally, the crossover between personal and professional devices, coupled with the use of public Wi-Fi, significantly expands the attack surface, making organisations more susceptible to breaches.

Cyber security risks when remote working

Black man working from home

When delving into the realm of remote work, it is essential to understand the diverse array of cyber security risks lurking in the shadows. Here is an exploration of the threats that remote workers face:

  • Phishing: Cyber criminals are adept at crafting convincing emails and messages to trick remote workers into divulging sensitive information or downloading malware.
  • Weak/Compromised Personal Wi-Fi: Home Wi-Fi networks often lack the robust security measures found in corporate environments, making them prime targets for hackers seeking to infiltrate devices and intercept data.
  • Neglecting System and Operating Updates: Failure to regularly update software and operating systems leaves remote devices vulnerable to known exploits and security vulnerabilities, providing an open invitation for cyber attackers.
  • DDoS Attacks: Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks can disrupt remote work operations by overwhelming networks or services with an influx of traffic, rendering them inaccessible.
  • No Employee Monitoring or Oversight: Without adequate oversight, remote workers may engage in risky online behaviour or fail to adhere to security protocols, leaving organisations unaware of potential security breaches until it is too late.
  • Slow Incident Response Times: The decentralised nature of remote work can lead to delays in detecting and responding to security incidents, allowing threats to escalate unchecked.
  • Expanded Attack Surface: Remote work environments introduce a multitude of new entry points for cyber attackers, including personal devices, home networks, and unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, significantly increasing the organisation's attack surface.
  • Personal and Professional Device Crossover: The blending of personal and professional devices in remote work settings creates a complex security landscape, where sensitive corporate data may inadvertently reside alongside personal information, increasing the risk of data breaches.
  • BYOD Risks: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies introduce security challenges, as personal devices may lack the stringent security measures necessary to protect sensitive corporate data.
  • Public Snooping (Shoulder Surfing): Remote workers accessing sensitive information in public spaces are susceptible to shoulder surfing, where unauthorised individuals may eavesdrop or observe confidential information, compromising security.
  • Weak Passwords or Multi-factor Authentication: Inadequate password practices and the absence of multi-factor authentication mechanisms make remote accounts vulnerable to brute force attacks and unauthorised access.
  • Weak Cloud Security Configuration: Misconfigured cloud services can expose sensitive data to unauthorised access, whether through improper access controls or insecure storage configurations.
  • Webcam Hacking (Zoombombing): Unsecured webcams pose a privacy risk, allowing cyber attackers to hijack video conferences or gain unauthorised access to sensitive meetings, potentially leading to data breaches or reputational damage.
  • Remote Work Action Complacency: Over-familiarity with remote work environments may lead to complacency regarding security protocols, increasing the likelihood of lapses in judgment or adherence to best practices.
  • File-sharing Risks: Sharing sensitive files without proper encryption or access controls poses a significant risk, as confidential information may be inadvertently exposed or accessed by unauthorised parties.

These risks underscore the critical importance of implementing robust cyber security measures and providing comprehensive training and awareness programs to mitigate the threats posed by remote work environments – but how can you do this without damaging productivity levels and employee efficiency.

Best practices for mitigating cyber security risks when remote working

Asian man uses high tech computer station

Implementing best practices for mitigating cyber security risks in remote work environments is paramount to safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining operational efficiency. Here is an in-depth exploration of each measure and how it contributes to bolstering cyber security while preserving productivity:

1. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA/2FA):

  • Strengthening Security: MFA/2FA adds an additional layer of verification beyond passwords, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorised access.
  • Maintaining Productivity: While providing enhanced security, MFA/2FA typically adds minimal friction to the authentication process, ensuring that productivity remains uninterrupted.

2. Manage and Monitor All Remote Access Requests:

  • Strengthening Security: Centralized management and monitoring of remote access requests enable organisations to detect and prevent unauthorised access attempts promptly.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Streamlining the remote access request process ensures that legitimate requests are swiftly approved, minimizing disruptions to workflow and productivity.

3. Password Managers:

  • Strengthening Security: Password managers generate and store complex, unique passwords for each account, reducing the risk of credential-based attacks.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Password managers simplify the login process by automatically filling in credentials, saving time and eliminating the frustration associated with forgotten passwords.

4. VPNs (Virtual Private Networks):

  • Strengthening Security: VPNs encrypt internet traffic, protecting sensitive data from interception and safeguarding against potential man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Maintaining Productivity: VPNs provide secure access to corporate networks and resources, enabling remote workers to collaborate and perform tasks efficiently, regardless of their location.

5. Work-from-home Specific Security Policy:

  • Strengthening Security: Tailoring security policies to the unique challenges of remote work environments helps mitigate risks associated with decentralised operations.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Clear and concise security policies provide remote workers with guidelines for secure behaviour, reducing the likelihood of inadvertent security breaches and ensuring uninterrupted productivity.

6. Avoiding Public Wi-Fi:

  • Strengthening Security: Encouraging remote workers to avoid public Wi-Fi networks minimises the risk of unauthorised access and interception of sensitive data.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Providing alternative secure connectivity options, such as mobile hotspots or VPNs, enables remote workers to stay connected and productive without compromising security.

7. Strict IoT and BYOD Policies:

  • Strengthening Security: Enforcing strict policies for IoT and BYOD usage helps mitigate the security risks associated with unsecured or unauthorised devices accessing corporate networks.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Clear guidelines for device usage and compliance ensure that remote workers can leverage their preferred devices while adhering to security standards, enhancing productivity without sacrificing security.

8. Locking Devices When Stepping Away:

  • Strengthening Security: Locking devices when not in use prevents unauthorised access and protects sensitive information from prying eyes.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Encouraging remote workers to develop the habit of locking their devices promotes a security-conscious culture without impeding workflow or efficiency.

9. Regular Software Updates:

  • Strengthening Security: Prompt installation of software updates patches known vulnerabilities and reduces the risk of exploitation by cyber attackers.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Automated update mechanisms minimise downtime associated with manual updates, ensuring that remote workers can focus on their tasks without interruption.

10. Think Twice Before Sharing Your Screen:

  • Strengthening Security: Exercising caution when sharing screens minimises the risk of inadvertently exposing sensitive information to unauthorised individuals.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Remote workers can leverage screen-sharing capabilities judiciously, sharing information selectively while preserving confidentiality and productivity.

11. Manage Social Media and Digital Footprint:

  • Strengthening Security: Educating remote workers about the importance of managing their digital footprint reduces the risk of social engineering attacks and unauthorised access to personal information.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Awareness of digital footprint management enables remote workers to strike a balance between engaging with online platforms and maintaining security, fostering productivity in a secure environment.

12. Webcam Covers and Cautious Behaviour:

  • Strengthening Security: Using webcam covers and practicing cautious behaviour mitigates the risk of webcam hacking and unauthorised access to video conferences or meetings.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Incorporating simple yet effective security measures, such as webcam covers, instils confidence in remote workers and enables them to participate in virtual interactions without security concerns, preserving productivity and collaboration.

13. Cyber Security Training and Awareness Materials:

  • Strengthening Security: Continuous education and awareness initiatives empower remote workers to recognise and respond effectively to cyber threats, reducing the likelihood of security incidents.
  • Maintaining Productivity: Providing accessible and engaging training materials ensures that remote workers can enhance their cyber security awareness without detracting from their primary responsibilities, fostering a security-conscious culture that supports productivity and efficiency.

By implementing these best practices, organisations can bolster cyber security in remote work environments while simultaneously supporting productivity and efficiency, creating a secure and conducive environment for remote collaboration and operations.


Organisations must prioritise cyber security to safeguard their data and operations.

By implementing best practices such as multi-factor authentication, VPNs, and regular training, organisations can mitigate the risks associated with remote work without compromising productivity.

It is imperative that both employees and decision-makers remain vigilant and proactive in addressing cyber security threats, ensuring a secure and efficient remote work environment for all.

Working with the right partner

Partnering with a trusted cyber security training and awareness company, such as The Security Company Ltd. (TSC), is crucial. With 25 years of experience, TSC specialises in enhancing security behaviours, fostering a robust security culture, and raising awareness of threats and risks across global organisations.

The dynamic nature of cyber threats necessitates a comprehensive and adaptive cyber security strategy for UK law firms. By understanding the evolving threat landscape and investing in robust training and awareness initiatives, decision-makers can fortify their organisations against potential risks and cyberattacks.

At The Security Company, we specialise in boosting cyber awareness, targeted training, customised projects and role-based solutions. Through our tailored subscription services, targeted and customised eLearning and awareness materials and our behavioural assessments, we're committed to helping organisations like yours instil long-term, security-conscious behaviours.

Our method is distinct. We begin by diving deep into your team's current mindset, pinpointing lax behaviours, security gaps and departments in need of focus and attention. From there, we craft tailored solutions that encourage better cyber practices from your employees. With comprehensive training and seamless integration into your current systems, we're here to fortify your team against modern cyber threats and be your trusted cyber security and awareness partner.

Ready to take the next step?

We can help you to formulate an effective and comprehensive cyber security training and awareness program for your organisation year-round and be your dedicated partner for employee behaviour change and, ultimately, security culture change.

Do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

Written by
Nas Ali
Cyber security and awareness content creator focused on emerging threats and the next wave of cyber security risks like AI, deepfakes and tech 4.0 initiatives in order to build towards a more secure organisational culture.
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