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Remotely Blog

Dimensions of Remote Risk

We all tend to fear the unknown. What is out there?...a Risk or an Opportunity? A threat, or a reward? We go about our everyday lives using information (data) to makes these decisions intuitively, and perhaps our distributed systems can benefit from this logic and methodology.

Remote work has become a common practice for businesses globally, but with it comes risks to computer systems. The digital world has seen an increasing number of cyberattacks, and remote work is no exception. Hackers and adversaries can target remote workers in various ways, posing a significant risk to companies. To mitigate these risks, companies must understand the four dimensions of remote work risk and implement effective measures to manage them.  While we have invested tremendous time, energy, and effort in point solutions, we are disadvantaged in some domains by a lack of standards. Risk management of end users is one such domain. In this blog, we are going to look at the dimensions of risk to consider, and a solution for unifying the information (data) to make risk management intuitional. 

The first dimension of remote work risk is the accuracy of the adversary being on target with their attack attempts. This involves the attacker's ability to accurately identify the target and gain access to their system. Remote workers are susceptible to social engineering attacks, such as phishing emails or scam phone calls, where attackers trick them into revealing sensitive information or granting access to their systems. Adversaries can also use vulnerabilities in software or devices used by remote workers to exploit their systems.istockphoto-584769868-170667a

Minimizing our attack surface, becoming a small, hard target, will not only deflect certain attempts at exploit, but also camouflage us from being found in future efforts. Knowing our target risk signature is the first step in starting to lowering it, thereby lowering one dimension of risk. Everything from password integrity and hygiene to policies on social posting can impact the accuracy of an exploit finding you and your organization.

The second dimension or Risk is the prevalence of those adversaries and their attacks. This refers to the frequency and magnitude of cyberattacks on remote workers. The more remote workers a company has, the more likely they are to be targeted by hackers. The easier the known targets are, the more more likely an attack will be as we will talk about shortly.  We have seen an explosion of activity and prevalence of bad actors in the past few years as remote work becomes a part of a new normal. As the number of remote workers increases, so does the risk of a cyberattack at any given time. Hackers are constantly developing new tactics and techniques to breach computer systems, making it critical for companies to stay updated on the latest threats. 

Having radar like visibility into what risks are prevalent, and a true danger is key. Fortunately, there are organizations and services like EPSS , MITRE, NIST which collect information from the "wild" on known and emerging threat prevalence. While some focus on applications, others will provide information on networking, data, or ransomware momentum and prevalence. 

A third dimension of risk to consider is the probability that those attacks will be successful.  This refers to the likelihood of a cyberattack being successful, even if the adversary is on target and the attack is prevalent. While we can certainly take counter measures, impart policies and procedures to minimize the probability of a threat, some succeed.  Knowing what kinds of users, and which threats are most likely to succeed arms us with both tactical and strategic information. While risk comes in waves often there are more and less successful tactics used and knowing where to prioritize defenses (or adjust), is critical. Screenshot 2023-03-23 122337

Remote workers may have weaker security measures in place than office workers, making them more vulnerable to probably attacks. For example, remote workers may not have access to the same level of network security or may not have updated their software or devices, leaving them exposed to potential threats. A measure of the probability of risk to each end user would be powerful.

The fourth dimension (and perhaps the "result") of risk is the severity of the damage should an attack be successful. This refers to the potential impact a cyberattack can have on a company's operations, data, and reputation. A successful cyberattack on a remote worker's computer can result in the theft of sensitive information, financial losses, and damage to the company's reputation. Cyberattacks can also result in downtime, affecting productivity and causing financial losses. 

One of the most rapid changes in financial markets given the rise in remote work has been Cyber Insurance. It is nearly certain that accurate, prevalent, probably, and damaging activity will continue, and the costs to protect against these exploits will as well.  Having the ability to quantify and demonstrate how your organization collects, organize, acts, and then validates who is a risk to themselves or the organization at nearly all times would be impactful.


To manage these risks effectively, companies must take a proactive approach to cybersecurity. This involves implementing measures to prevent attacks, detect them early, and respond appropriately.  As mentioned, there have been incredible point solutions that have emerged to address certain aspects or types or risk - and yet none that have unified all of the information we need to make risk based decisions in one place. 

One solution that will help will be Remotely's cloud-based risk management and monitoring platform that creates a risk credit score for each user by ingesting a tremendous amount of data and information streams as well as threat intelligence.  The composite metric is called Security Risk Index or SRI™.  This tool helps companies assess the risk of remote workers by looking at a manifest of possible vulnerabilities, settings, and user activity in nearly real time so companies can take appropriate measures to mitigate those risks.  By placing a living numerical value of risk with each user, the company now has the information needed to navigate the threat landscape.

Remote work is here to stay, and so are the risks associated with it. Companies must understand the four dimensions of remote work risk and implement effective measures to manage them.  We believe the first step is visibility. The ability scan, score, and secure based on evidence from the edge saves time that we don't have to engage in projects we know we should. This involves staying updated on the latest threats, implementing security measures, adopting new tools and playbooks, and yes -  using tools like Remotely's solution to assess the risk of remote workers. By doing so, companies can protect their operations, data, and reputation from the potential damage of cyberattacks.

We all work best when we can work as our true selves - and our work is best when we are safe and supported. 

J.Tyler Rohrer

March 2023

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