In a matter of weeks during March and April 2020, virtually anyone who could work from home was working from home. COVID-19 had flushed millions of executives and employees out of their cubicles and onto the Internet and online communication. The shift reduced human exposure to coronavirus but greatly increased system exposure to malware, ransomware and Trojan Horse-websites.
In Kasi Johnston ‘s April 14 Mortgage Professional America report, “Cyberattacks on the Rise with Increased Remote Work,” she writes that, “With most mortgage professionals working with a lot of sensitive information on behalf of clients and the company, there is an increased risk of compromised networks and data.”
Johnston points out that an Anglo-American joint advisory on cybersecurity warned that, “cyber criminals are targeting individuals and organizations while employees are relying on less-than-secure home networks to do their work.”
Bruce Phillips, senior vice president and chief information security officer for Williston Financial Group’s WEST, confirmed the danger.
“Working from home is a totally different experience,” he said. “If companies aren’t checking in and communicating with employees, understanding new challenges and working through those, it will result in a challenge for the business.”
He added that the “rule of thumb” is that the easier a program is to use, the less secure it likely is. “It’s important to find a balance.”
“When using a new technology, you need to have a full understanding or have someone help you configure it correctly, so you don’t put your business or clients at risk,” he said.
No one could have predicted the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it would affect our workplace, but Phillips said it’s a good opportunity to plan for the future: “Companies who had not thought this through are learning some hard lessons right now. The best thing to do now is learn from it.”
Not every company had enough equipment for employees to take home with them. In the future, he advised, companies will have an easier time if they develop crisis plans and educate employees in advance.
One aid he mentioned is WESTprotect, an affordable new cybersecurity help desk for real estate agents, lenders and titles agents to forward suspicious content for analysis by security professionals.
Click the button below to read commentary from Bruce Phillips, senior vice president and chief information security officer for WEST, a Williston Financial Group (WFG) company, in NMP, “Cyberattack on the rise with increased remote work”