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The mass shift to remote work precipitated by the pandemic created massive security challenges, as it blurred lines between personal spaces and corporate security. It has exposed both individuals and businesses to a range of cyber-attacks. With the absence of security protections such as firewalls and blacklisted IP addresses, and increased reliance on technology, remote employees are more vulnerable to cyberattacks. According to a report by India Times, 40% of Indian businesses have reported an increase in cyberattacks in 2021. This has resulted in an immense need for cyber security solutions.
How remote work provided opportunities for cyberattacks.
Remote work will become normalised and it will effectively turn into standard business practice. As organisations prepare for a post-pandemic world, one of the many issues they’ll have to address is IT security for remote employees. A remote workforce comes with manifold dangers, as employees are relying on their home networks and their own devices to complete tasks. In case they experience any technical issues, organisations can only hope their employees have technical skills, as there’s only so much your IT team can do to help.
Office networks are highly secure against data loss, security and privacy risks as significant outlay is made in the equipping of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) firewalls, anti-virus software and blacklisting dangerous IP addresses. Because most home networks do not have dedicated firewalls or other security layers to protect devices from data breaches, the aforementioned issues regarding data privacy in a remote work setting are of primary concern to the organisation and remote employees.
Organisations have to create processes and procedures that cover cybersecurity for remote work. They may have escaped unscathed so far, but it only takes one mistake for disaster to strike. So it is crucial that organisations take the time to review whether their remote working practises are secure enough to sustain unremitting attacks.
Some vital aspects to consider:
Keep devices secure and updated: Make sure all the remote employees have switched on all the automatic security updates, including antivirus and firewall. Device safety extends to networking devices too, and applies to all updates for your networking devices, equipping them with secure passwords.
Inclusion of EDR & MDR to security posture: Both Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) and Managed Detection and Response (MDR) are two systems that are designed to advance security technologies to help improve an organisation’s security posture. They are intended to assist organisations in leveraging cutting-edge security technologies to increase their protection against cyber-attacks.
Adopting ZTNA and SASE: Enterprises should consider implementing zero trust network access (ZTNA) and secure access service edge to solve this IT environment (SASE). ZTNA is a great tool for securing people and devices. It makes use of contextual data to grant access, which may include security context such as endpoint verification. SASE provides context and controls to what ZTNA doesn’t perceive. SASE is a better approach to remote access, and ZTNA can help by giving businesses more control over access policies, scalability, simplicity, and security.
Strengthen your perimeter: An organisation’s perimeter used to be the office space, but now it extends to employees’ homes. So enterprises need to upgrade it and have the tools in place to identify and cease threats before attackers can penetrate office systems. Cybersecurity solutions can help you detect and monitor such threats and minimise the attacks when employees work remotely.
Remote access management policy and procedures: Organisations should implement multi-factor authentication for VPN access, IP address and limits on remote desktop protocol (RDP) access and increase command on remote network connections.
Rampart end-point protection: Protect devices against standard and advanced malware. Install cybersecurity software to make sure it is competent enough to tackle any such attacks.
Defence against Phishing: It is crucial for the organisation to make sure that the employees are well aware of phishing. A comprehensive set of tools and techniques that can help identify and neutralise phishing attacks in advance should be installed. Installing specialised anti-phishing solutions, tools and phishing security measures that are aimed to deliver effective phishing protection while providing modus operandi for attacks that intend to breach security.
Shadow IT: Enterprises need to constantly monitor shadow IT and make sure that the employees who are working remotely use approved apps and solutions in order to curb any kind of cyber-attacks.
As remote work is getting adapted rapidly, organisations need to apply their traditional cybersecurity thinking to a wider network of endpoints, which now includes the employees’ home networks. Today, regardless of the size of the verticals, they continue to shift between remote and office work, and cyberattacks continue to prowl ill-prepared organisations. Cybersecurity solutions have become the best policy for protection against these cyberattacks and data breaches. This era of hybrid and remote work is augmenting and opening up new opportunities for organisations to be productive and enhance the work experience for employees. So it is crucial that organisations working hybrid and remotely consider these cybersecurity risks and extend the cybersecurity setup to the employees’ home networks.
(The author is Mr. Mitish Chitnavis, Chief Technology Officer, iValue InfoSolutions and the views expressed in this article are his own)