Remote work may be the new norm in most industries and the convenience factor new hires look for, but it’s come with a new set of challenges security professionals were still familiarizing themselves with just before the Covid-19 pandemic began. With this new, significantly larger attack surface for IT departments to worry about, new vulnerabilities and risks must be accounted for. So, what are some of these common risks and how can they be mitigated?
In an office environment, security and IT teams had more oversight into the daily security of an organization. However, remote work has moved much of daily system access and data exchange to outside the conventional parameters of the work environment, meaning that standard security monitoring is missing a significant amount of everyday visibility. This has been exacerbated by the growing occurrence of “bring-your-own-device,” a.k.a. BYOD, workers who use personal technology , rather than the more secure company-provided alternative.
With a rising percentage of employees opting to use their own laptops and smartphones to access company systems, networks, and data, BYOD policies have become a popular topic in security strategy conversations. Regardless of the skillset of the individual, the use of unsecured devices lends itself to the higher risk of data exposure or breach. Additionally, if these devices aren’t properly disposed of or wiped when they’re handed-down or sold, there’s no way to ensure organizational information isn’t accessible by the new owner.
In addition to the use of unsecured devices, there’s also the potential that employees may use unsecured networks during the course of their day, like public Wi-Fi or minimal security home networks. Since the average individual doesn’t have the expertise to secure their own internet, any instruction to update their router or utilize a preferred VPN may not be followed correctly, leaving them still vulnerable to attack.
When industries across the globe were forced to adopt remote and hybrid work structures with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, cloud technology became an even more essential and familiar tool in the average worker’s day. However, it’s not without its risks. A simple misconfiguration in user permissions can quickly enable a minor attack to snowball into a massive breach. As we’ve seen with events across the security industry, cloud misconfigurations have grown to be the leading cause of security incidents in recent years.
How your security team communicates instructions and security controls to the rest of your company can either help or hinder remote workers and their cyber resiliency. By reviewing and updating instructions, employees may have an easier time utilizing VPNs, following password policies, and learning how to encrypt the sensitive data they deal with each day, making cybersecurity a business-wide effort. This will also help to foster a better understanding of the importance of cybersecurity outside of IT teams.
If you don’t already have a vulnerability management strategy in place, implementing one that encompasses the vulnerabilities introduced by your remote work environment is a vital step to increasing your cyber resilience. By introducing a risk-based approach, your security professionals can focus on the highest organizational security risks first and then take the proper mitigation actions in order to fix security holes that could cause the most damage to your business.
As we mentioned previously, even a minor cloud misconfiguration can lead to a business compromise, so ensuring proper configurations is an easy step to mitigate your remote risk. While there are a variety of practices you can implement to ensure future configurations are implemented correctly from the start, going back to review all existing security measures to identify where patches or updates are necessary is just as important to start fresh with your company’s cloud access.
As technology and the methods used by malicious actors continues to advance, so should your threat detection and incident response programs. By reviewing these on a semi-regular basis, your team can update them to match your current remote or hybrid environment and the prevalent threats you currently face. Without a current strategy, your team may be ineffective or delayed when reacting to an attack.
While your security strategy’s needs will change as the work environment and security technology continues to change, starting with these initial security measures will give you the foundation to ensure your remote workforce and your data is safe. If you’re looking for assistance securing your network with multiple layers of defense and security, Omega’s suite of products and services are here for you. Contact Omega to take a new approach with your security automation, no matter where your team is working from today.