With one-third of UK and US workers currently based exclusively at home, remote working on this scale has become a major angst for the IT security bosses globally.
Studies show that many firms are not taking the issue as seriously as they should be, with 20% of UK home-workers receiving no training on cyber-security, according to a recent survey by UK data protection firm Hayes Connor Solicitors.
Their report found that 66% of employees who printed potentially sensitive work documents at home admitted to putting the papers in their bins without shredding them firstly while in a separate UK study last year it found that 57% of IT decision-makers believed that remote workers will expose their firm to the risk of a data breach.
In the rush and panic to setup remote working, even some basic data protection practices were overlooked with many smaller companies not providing additional security for computers and phone devices, according to a senior associate at the surveying firm.
The cyber-security sector believes that firms should have started by giving all home workers a dedicated work laptop and while many larger companies may well have done so but not all smaller firms had the resources to do so. This resulted in home-workers using their own personal devices whilst working from home and vulnerable to malware and other cyber-attacks, if secure VPN connections are not in place between their home devices and their company’s servers.
Sam Grubb, an Arkansas-based cyber-security consultant told BBC News last month that employers should not allow staff to use their personal computers for work and he likened the benefit of VPN cyber security to “instead of driving through the dark forest of tigers, lions and bears, you drive through an underground tunnel, where no one can see you driving until you reach your destination on the other side.”
However, even this won’t totally eliminate risk because email scams are still catching unwary home-workers. Industry experts are therefore united in saying that proper cyber-security training combined with software solutions are the recommended approaches for employers to adopt.