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What cyberthreats are teleworkers exposed to?

DECRYPTIONTeleworking has not only disrupted the way work structures our days, it has also forced us to change production tools. The first confinement has indeed forced many individuals to turn to their personal computers to be able to continue working, in conditions sometimes far from equal to those of the workplace, especially with regard to computer security. Because often, individuals are far from being as well equipped against cyber attacks as a large company, sometimes with a dedicated service. Its vulnerability makes it an attractive target for hackers, who may use their computer to reach professional data.

“We went during the first confinement from two to five million teleworkers, so three million additional teleworkers in 24 hours”, recalls Christophe Corne, CEO of Systancia, French editor of cybersecurity software, Thursday at the microphone of France is on the move on Europe 1.

Why are teleworkers more exposed?

“It was necessary to use personal computers, and this is often the beginning of the problems”, slices the CEO of Systancia. Indeed, these computers are rarely verified by the employer, nor equipped with a firewall as effective as those used by companies. And yet, cybersecurity is the responsibility of the employer. It is up to him to provide the employee with the necessary technology because, as Christophe Corne points out, “an individual does not have the capacity to manage his IT security as a business would”.

And the spread of teleworking only fuels the appetite of hackers because it increases both their attack surface and the amount of data that circulates on individual computers every day. “As the digital world takes more and more place in our professional, personal, or our life as citizens, the data concerning us take value”, explains Hugues Foulon, director of cybersecurity strategy and activities from Orange, also guest of France is on the move.

Who are the hackers who target individuals?

“There are three families of attackers,” lists Hugues Foulon. “There are first of all the hackers, who are more looking for performance, and to be recognized for having overcome a technical difficulty. Then the mafias, or villainous companies, even criminal when they attack hospitals, which go seek to steal earnings: steal money, embezzle funds, a signature or a purchase order, “he enumerates. “And finally the third category, about which we speak a little less, they are the States or the agencies dependent on a State, which will have as objective to destabilize an enemy country, to weaken part of its activities.”

Individuals are primarily exposed to the second type – cyber organizations that seek to make money – but depending on the strategic importance of the company they work for, they may also be targeted by other attackers.

What attacks?

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For individuals, fishing – “phishing” in good French – remains the best practice technique to launch an attack. “If we see a lot of it, it’s because it works”, notes Hugues Foulon. The objective is to fool the victim by making him believe that he is addressing a trusted third party, in order to obtain sensitive information from him. “Thinking of receiving an email from their bank, people click on an attachment that will infect their computer, looking for bank details.”

Ransomware, or ransomware, is a method of extortion that affects businesses more than individuals. “Malware encrypts data, and hackers pretend that it cannot be recovered unless they pay a ransom,” explains Hugues Foulon. But since teleworking often requires us to connect to business interfaces via personal computers, an individual may very well become unwittingly the gateway for ransomware to their corporate data.

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