By Emily Newton, Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine.
The world has changed, and while the pandemic may have served as a catalyst, we were always heading toward more virtual and digital experiences. No one necessarily saw the rise of remote work and work-from-home opportunities coming, except for maybe freelancers. Things are different now, and that means at-home security and distributed IT solutions are taking priority.
How can organizations shift their entire workforce to a hybrid or fully remote operation while still reaping the benefits of on-site levels of security? How can we adapt and implement long-term work-from-home security solutions to keep sensitive data and users protected yet productive?
1. Deploy Multifactor Authentication
Employees should not be reusing passwords or pin codes, and they should not share them with anyone. However, not everyone is going to follow the rules. That puts them, their accounts, and possibly even the entire operation at risk. Multifactor authentication can provide an additional layer of security to all logins, protecting what would otherwise be relatively unprotected.
There are many MFA tools such as Plurilock, Azure Active Directory MFA, Duo, LastPass, and Okta, which can be incredibly useful in this regard. They can also help an entire team rollout the necessary changes without disrupting active processes or operations.
2. Establish Phishing Protections
Phishing, or social engineering, is a common attack where unscrupulous parties trick people into providing sensitive details like account names, passwords, and payment info. FortiGuard Labs identified about 600 new phishing campaigns per day. It is not a minor concern or something your employees statistically won’t encounter.
Every work email system should have a properly deployed phishing net, with some examples being Barracuda BTEP, Proofpoint, and Mimecast. These tools filter out potentially harmful emails that contain phishing links and snoopers or other hazardous code, like infected attachments. These tools can be preinstalled on work computers and devices to ensure employees are always protected, even when they’re working remotely.
3. Improve Collaboration and Communication
Security events happen fast. It’s imperative to stress open communication and stay updated on what’s going on, and collaboration is an excellent way to ensure that happens. Creating a more engaged and active environment ensures everyone is accounted for and more likely to catch potential concerns before they become major breaches. There’s no way to physically see if everyone is OK without in-person meetings unless you have regular virtual meetups.
Collaboration and communication are necessary for security and productivity.
4. Build Out Network Visibility
Remote work security is twofold in that it should cover on-site and off-site employees. Whether your people are working from their personal devices and computers or a company-issued machine, they’ll be connecting to your organization’s network. Your IT team will need the proper visibility to discern who’s connected and what they’re doing. That includes administrative access to block potentially infected or nefarious users.
If something is detected, do they have the power to revoke access to the affected parties, prevent further damage and lock down the network? If the answer is no to any of those questions, it’s time to revisit how your system operates and what security tools your IT team has at the ready. Network access control (NAC) and endpoint security solutions are must-haves on this front.
5. Use Network Segmentation
Network segmentation involves taking more sensitive areas of a network, locking them down, and preventing access — only allowing a select few authorized parties in. You could deploy all IoT and connected devices through a segmented internal network that’s not publicly visible or accessible. It’s another must-have in today’s hyper-connected world.
This helps IT and security teams better manage devices and systems connected to that particular segment. They can see who has access, what’s happening, and even identify potential issues much faster. Automation solutions benefit from the segmentation, too, as they can be limited to what’s connected instead of being tied to all network traffic. There’s a lot more granularity in terms of what they have to manage and monitor.
6. Utilize Virtual Desktops
Virtual desktops are an excellent solution in BYOD environments, especially when you have remote workers using their own systems. Rather than manage a ton of software installations across various platforms, IT teams can manage and deploy a single environment to everyone. This might not work if everyone within the organization is issued a remote desktop or laptop computer, but it’s still a great idea to use virtual desktops for seamless management.
Virtual or remote desktops are the same as standard versions. They see nothing different on the user’s end. However, all data, including for software applications, is stored remotely and not locally. What’s more, the virtual desktops can be deployed across a host of systems, from Windows and Mac to Android and iOS. IT teams can manage the security and update apps remotely from a core system that everyone connects virtually.
7. Educate Everyone
Traditionally, organizations invest time and resources educating security and system professionals, and everyone else gets a basic rundown. Because of how integral technology is in today’s work environment, educating everyone on as much of the cybersecurity landscape as possible makes sense. Proper remote work security depends on all active participants doing their part to ensure the systems are protected, from those logging in every day to those who barely use their computers.
Data is everywhere, and it plays a role in all our lives. The more you know about how something works and why the better armed you are to protect yourself. How could a potential hacker breach their accounts or system? What kinds of security vulnerabilities should they be looking for? Who should they tell when something is awry, and how do they open a support ticket for IT? All these questions should be addressed.
Don’t Forget On-Site Security
With everyone working remotely and so much focus on digital technologies, it’s easy to forget there’s another landscape to worry about — physical security. That includes on-site systems and servers, the network and its physical perimeter, user authentication, and much more. It’s easy to make a lapse in judgment, forgetting to maintain this critical protocol, yet it’s a foundational part of IT security.
Use these strategies to improve and lockdown long-term remote security, like network segmentation, multifactor authentication, and phishing protection. Just don’t forget that on-site systems need as much care and maintenance as everything else for home-based workers to be truly secure.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief at Revolutionized Magazine. A regular contributor to Brilliance Security Magazine, she has over four years of experience writing articles in the industrial sector.