Thanks to the changes wrought by recent years and the impact of the pandemic, organisations and employees have become accustomed to remote working models. From improved productivity to more efficient and satisfied employees, the evidence is clear – the more to remote or hybrid remote work is no longer a short-term option.
For many industries, a fully remote workforce is not optimal, such as the finance sector. Just 20% of employees from the financial services want to work in the office three or more days a week, with many large corporations such as HSBC and the Bank of Ireland adopting or considering work from home models.
The pandemic has certainly shown it is possible to create work models that embrace remote working. But with the hybrid work model, there are risks that need to considered, probably most importantly those associated with cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity attacks in the finance sector
In 2020, over 70% of financial sector businesses in the UK experienced cyberattacks and 59% of these attacks were exacerbated by conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as remote work. Employees in the finance industry are particularly at risk, given the highly sensitive transactional and confidential information they deal with on a daily basis,
The rapid shift to remote work offered an opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit. Many finance companies believe cyberattacks increased in severity after staff began operating in remote work environments, and this is potentially putting businesses at risk of major data breaches.
Types of cybersecurity issues include:
- Malware, such as viruses, worms, Trojan viruses, spyware, and ransomware.
- Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
- Corporate account takeover, which is a type of workforce identity theft.
- Insider threats, such as sabotage or fraud.
Each cyberthreat comes with its own specific outcomes but there can be a high cost of a cybersecurity incident. For example, a single data breach for UK businesses is nearly £2.7 million, and the reputational harm is incalculable.
IT risk mitigation
Risk management is a process used by businesses to plan for and mitigate the impact of risks that can happen. IT risk management is a part of this strategy, to protect businesses from cyberattacks and other risks related to IT. The process includes creating and implementing security strategies, assessing risks, developing policies and protocols, compliance monitoring, and employee cybersecurity training.
This is particularly important when it comes to remote work and the different models expected to be adopted in the future. Hybrid workers who will shift between on and off site premises for work need to be considered carefully when it comes to security and keeping company data safe in the finance sector.
The importance of risk management can’t be understated, as it helps prevent financial losses, data breaches, and unauthorised access to sensitive information.
Mitigating risk for hybrid workers in finance
IT risk management is critical, to ensure the security of the business. It can be made somewhat more of a challenge for a workforce that spends some of their time off-premises, where it can be difficult to control the behaviour and actions of employees. This can allow cybersecurity risk to increase, and create conditions that allow an incident to occur.
To mitigate risk, finance firms can take the following steps:
- Implement regular cybersecurity awareness training, as employees can unwittingly be the cause of security breaches, particularly phishing attacks, ransomware, etc.
- Alerts sent out for specific threats can help prevent employees from making mistakes and reinforce safe security behaviour.
- Implement strong policies regarding use of work devices for personal use.
- Ensure digital communication and collaboration tools are secure and compliant with regulations regarding to capturing, retaining, and reviewing conversations between companies and employees.
- Implement virtual desktop-server technology or virtual private networks to allow access to internal networks.
- Secure access to networks by enforcing certificate-based identities or multi-factor authentication.
- Use security measures like end-to-end encryption
- Ensure all devices used for work purposes are secure, maintained, updated regularly, and protected with antivirus software. Have a plan in place for timing of update and refresh of hybrid workforce devices.
Stay secure and compliant with the experts
As the financial sector adapts and embraces new technology, companies need to ensure protection of their data is their number one focus. With a remote and hybrid workforce this is ever more critical.
Probably the most effective way to prevent risk for hybrid workers is to ensure your company has the expertise and level of security measures needed to keep your business data and employees safe.
The cybersecurity and compliance experts at INTELLIWORX can help your company to mitigate the risks of a hybrid workforce. Specialising in IT for the finance sector, they strive to understand your specific business goals to strengthen the security around your organisation.