With so many companies replacing physical offices with a remote system, it is paving more way to worse security threats. Well, sure there are a lot of potent pros involved when an organization runs remotely, for example, the organization is not going to pay for transport expenses, food bills, bare the rented prices for work offices.
But it comes with a lot of cons too, and one of them is security which is put into danger without knowing. And to implement security through secure remote access is a tedious job at hand.
When employees work remotely; the context of cybersecurity threats changes. Certain new types of risks emerge, such as employees’ dependence on personal computers, routers, and other devices that could be compromised with malware, but which are difficult for corporate IT personnel to manage and secure.
Remote Security Threats
VPN Issue: Many businesses occasionally allow a large number of people to access official servers which opens the door to brutal attacks via VPNs. And businesses frequently prioritize security over profitability. It must be addressed right away.
Phishing: With the rise in cases of covid-19 affecting the entire world, many malicious attackers are posing as medical supply sellers. As a result, security is a little shaky these days. Because an organization’s entire security panel is dependent on whether or not any member of your team clicks on the link.
Fake Azure Applications: Many businesses are opting for the Azure world, and they are relatively new to the Microsoft world. As a result, some of the attackers send out emails with links with fake Azure providers. These criminals are naive, and they prey on trusting customers who are easy to deceive and do not know much about secure remote access tools.
Multi-Factor Authentication: Cybercriminals have devised methods to direct unwitting employees to bogus authentication screens. When an employee unintentionally divulges both credentials to the hackers, the goal of hacking the company servers is accomplished.
Urgent Need For Secure Remote Access
Use of not-so-secure internet connections: When connecting to systems or storage resources in their companies’ offices, employees must use public internet connections to access or send data. Third parties could eavesdrop on the connections and steal sensitive information from secure remote access devices if that data is not properly secured, which would be much more difficult to do if all data remained inside corporate networks.
An easy prey to exploit: Employees who work remotely are forced to use a wider range of tools, which increases the attack surface available to attackers. Remote workers deploy applications like RDP and VPN clients in addition to the standard office applications, potentially creating new security vulnerabilities.
Personal devices are more viable to attacks: In work-from-home settings, threats that exist in traditional work environments can be exploited in new ways or on a larger scale. Phishing attacks, for example, are not a unique risk for remote employees, but they may be easier to carry out when employees are out of the office, less aware of threats, and connecting to corporate resources via personal devices.
Remote Work Best Practices to Assure Secure Remote Access
Accepting Human Errors
Rather than denying it, Let’s face it, we’re going to have to accept it. And then get down to business. Accepting that threats exist is the most basic step and the best practice for securing remote access. This can be a difficult mindset to accept, particularly for companies that secure their on-premises infrastructure well. Most professionals also overlook the security risks associated with remote-access setups because they have less visibility into the systems that employees use when working from home, as well as fewer opportunities to identify risks. Nonetheless, vulnerabilities in the infrastructure and applications that employees use to work remotely are almost certain to exist. Even if they can’t see them, IT teams should assume that those risks exist.
A Telework Policy is the Best Policy
Another important step in addressing remote access threats is to establish clear rules that govern how employees work remotely. IT company organizing remote access policy is a great step to reduce security threats. Companies should create telework policies that include things like:
- Whether or not remote workers are permitted to use personal equipment.
- Which data employees can take home with them and which must be kept in the office.
- Employees must be advised that they should not install non-work-related software if they are using personal devices for work purposes.
Encrypt Sensitive Information
From a security point of view, data encryption is always a best practice. This point becomes more important when employees work remotely because there’s a risk of losing devices when they’re used outside of the office or sensitive data being intercepted while traveling over the internet.
To that end, ensure that all data transmitted over the network between company-owned systems and remote work locations are encrypted. Employees can be required to connect to remote systems using VPNs, which come with built-in encryption, as a simple way to accomplish this. It’s also important to keep remote-access tools like RDP clients up to date, because older clients may not encrypt data by default.
Designate and Secure Specific Remote Work Devices
Employees should not use personal devices when working remotely, and this should be mandated by policy. Instead, companies should provide employees with specialized devices for remote work. The corporate IT team should manage those devices to ensure that they are properly updated and do not contain any unnecessary software or data that could pose a security risk.
Employ User Authentication
Employees should be subject to strict access control, including multifactor authentication, when accessing company resources remotely. Although it may be tempting to make resources such as file servers accessible to anyone in order to make access more convenient, this poses a significant security risk.
Instead, adopting the principle of least privilege, which means that all users’ access should be disabled by default and only enabled for the specific accounts that require it, is a best practice. This will necessitate more configuration, but the added security benefits are well worth it.
VPN Set Up
VPNs have three main advantages: they allow secure remote access to resources that would otherwise be inaccessible from offsite locations, they encrypt connections, and they provide some access control for corporate networks. When employees work remotely, setting up a VPN and requiring all remote connections to go through it is a basic best practice for keeping resources secure.
However, it’s important to remember that a VPN isn’t a panacea. It reduces the risk of some types of attacks, such as data sniffing, but it offers little protection against phishing attacks. Furthermore, it may contain its own set of vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. Consider a VPN as an additional layer of security for remote access, but not as a complete solution.
Manage Sensitive Data Securely
It’s critical to keep sensitive data safe by encrypting it and restricting access to it. When employees work remotely, however, it is even more important to ensure that sensitive data is handled properly. If your company has compliance rules that require data to be kept on specific servers, make sure employees can’t download copies of the data to their remote working devices.
Even if compliance isn’t a concern, policies on whether and how employees can copy data to remote devices should be established. You want to avoid situations where an employee, for example, copies customers’ personal data to a thumb drive that then goes missing, potentially exposing sensitive data.
Collaborate with Third-Party Partners and Vendors
Remote-access scenarios necessitate even more careful collaboration with third-party partners and vendors than in traditional settings. Companies that provide remote desktop instances for remote employees or manage file servers that are accessed over the network, for example, are critical stakeholders in your ability to keep systems and data as secure as possible when employees work from home.
Make sure to choose vendors and partners who are just as committed to remote security as you are, and who are ready to assist you in dealing with threats as soon as it occurs. Choosing solutions that automate security as much as possible, on the other hand, is critical for keeping security risks manageable in the face of existential challenges such as alert overload, an overreliance on manual processes, and skills shortages.
When the IT team isn’t available,
- When employees are working remotely and are unable to interact with the IT team in person, they should report suspected attacks.
- Appropriate guidance and training must be provided, as this will go a long way toward reducing the security risks associated with remote access systems.