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How does remote working affect cyber security in the financial and legal sectors?

The financial and legal sectors have experienced a significant rise in cybercrime activity over the past few years as the following stats from the UK COVID CRIME INDEX 2021 REPORT show

  • Three-quarters (74%) of banks and insurers experienced rise in cybercrime since the pandemic began.

  • IT security, cybercrime, fraud, or risk department budgets had been cut by almost a third (26%) in the past 12 months.

  • This mirrors the criminal activity detected by financial institutions that had risen by (29%) since the start of the pandemic.

  • 42% of FIs said that the remote working model due to COVID-19 makes them less secure.

  • The Law Society accepted that remote working during and following the pandemic provided one of the biggest cyber threats to law firms in the UK.

And it’s not surprising to understand why. Cybercrime is now the biggest economic threat in the global economy – it’s cheap and easy to carry out and really hard to catch the people doing it. Couple that with remote working and a post pandemic business model for many that is tied to online trade, and you have the perfect storm.

What are the main risks associated with homeworkers?

Working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown was vital for charities to continue delivering services to those in need. But there’s no doubt that your home computer, or a laptop borrowed from the office, is less secure than one running in your workplace under the watchful eye of dedicated IT staff.

  • Phishing emails. Employees working remotely can be the largest threat to the security of your network. If they unknowingly follow poor cyber security practices, they might end up giving cybercriminals and hackers access to the network and sensitive data of the company.

Commonly, the hacker will send an email to trick the victim to login to a malicious website that looks exactly like the original website. Once the victim enters the required information, the attacker uses it to hack into an account and carry out identity fraud or steal more sensitive information. The phishing emails may look like from a person or organization you trust. It may be from a social media site, credit card company, streaming app, bank, or even a work colleague or supervisor.

  • Password Theft. Even when an organization uses firewalls, VPNs, and other cybersecurity software for protecting remote work, human error might come into play when employees safeguard the account using weak passwords.

Hackers can exploit human error to get past sophisticated security software. This is the reason they will try to crack the account passwords for accessing sensitive details. You won’t believe it, but twenty-three million people still use the password 123456.

Cybercriminals use different measures for cracking passwords. Often, the hackers design codes to crack a password by trying out various variants. Repeat password is another insecure practice that hackers try to exploit. As soon as the hackers crack the password to an account, they will try accessing other accounts with the same password. Employees repeating their passwords on various applications are at a higher risk of having their accounts hacked. This is particularly true for employees who use the same passwords across personal and work networks.

  • File Sharing. While companies might think of encrypting data that is stored on the corporate network, they might not consider encrypting data when it is in transit from one location to the other. This might result in employees sharing or remotely accessing sensitive details on a regular basis that the company is unable to secure from being intercepted by a hacker.

  • Personal Devices. Employees often don’t encrypt their own personal devices. Nevertheless, if work is conducted on personal mobile phones, such as logins or phone calls to business accounts, this may cause data breaches.

Some businesses provide their employees with work computers to remotely access the files and information. However, others allow remote employees to work on personal computers. This approach might leave company data at risk.

  • Criminals may exploit the fact that a router password is still on its default setting. Change or update Router and Wi-Fi passwords as part of the working from home process for all staff. Use your web browser to log on to your router (often using the address or, find the option to change the router password, and choose something difficult to guess. Also, configure your Wi-Fi to use WPA or WPA2 encryption and to set a strong password with a minimum of 13 characters.

  • Cyber criminals often exploit known vulnerabilities in computer operating system to hack into the system before the operating system is updated to remove the vulnerability. By setting Windows to install updates automatically as soon as they are available you reduce the window of opportunity for these cyber criminals.

So, what should my organisation do now?

Here at the centre, we would advise you to do three things now

1. Join our free core membership by clicking here. You will be supported through implementing the changes you need to make to protect your business, your supply chain and your customers.

2. Free membership includes entry onto the free Little Steps pathway which prepares you for the Cyber Essentials accreditation process. And if you want to pay for the assessment, we can refer you one of our Trusted Partners – all regionally based cyber security companies that can help you become accredited. And remember that a company operating under Cyber Essentials processes is 99% protected either fully or partially from today’s common cyber-attacks.

3. We would also recommend that you speak to your Managed Service Provider and / or website company to discuss how they can implement cyber resilience measures on your behalf.

Reporting Cyber Crime

Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).


The contents of this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us.

The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this document. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

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