After struggling for almost a year, things are finally getting back to normal. Not in the way they were before, but after being under lockdown for so long, people are adapting to this new normal.
As our daily work life settles into the remote access environment, it is time to look at cybersecurity and assess the full standing of our security posture.
As the world has gone online and has adapted to remote working, an opportunity has been created for cyber criminals. The unprecedented remote work force is a new threat landscape and malicious actors are phishing for the weak spots in cybersecurity that are now present. The last thing you want is for an employee to accidentally become an easy target for a cyberattack.
Thus, it is necessary to implement certain measures to ensure the security of your network from any potential security breaches.
A few things to consider, to enhance your security:
A first consideration is to utilize disk encryption to protect data from malicious use by way of unauthorized access. Disk Encryption is a simple procedure and is relatively easy to conduct.
Additionally, if you lose a mobile device, disk encryption it will help protect data from unwanted access. Most major operating systems provide an onboard disk encryption software package like BitLocker in Windows and FileVault in macOS.
Brute-force is always a hacking possibility, but it will be nearly impossible for a hacker to break into your account if it is protected by a complex and lengthy password. This is a simple step to take in account access protection.
However, there are some simple procedures to remember in building a strong password. Avoid simple words which have a relation to your life such as your name, mobile number, DOB, wife’s name, pet name, etc. Also, do not use numeric sequences like 12345678, 0000000, 777777. Simple passwords can be easily broken.
Complex passwords can be difficult to use, from a memorization standpoint, but can save you from loss of data, money, and reputation. To help manage and construct complex passwords consider using a password management solution.
Malware can impact devices and networks in multiple ways. To safeguard your environment from malicious code the best defense is to install and configure anti-malware software in your devices. Anti-malware software protects your device through analyzing the behavior of executable for malicious activity and if thorough enough, can scan other devices for noted infections.
Combing strong anti-malware with a strong email security solution will help thoroughly cover a device from infection. In addition to strong cybersecurity solutions being in-place, personal vigilance is an important aspect to stop threats.
Security awareness training will help supplement your investment in security software. Do not open any suspicious emails and certainly do not click on their links or open attachments. Remember phishing emails are getting better and better at hiding their malicious intent and can be virtually impossible to detect by the human eye.
Multi-factor authentication means using multiple security layers to verify the authenticity of the user, where each layer defines an extra factor in your identity verification.
To enhance the password strength, add two-factor authentication (‘2fa’) which is the best defense against brute-force attack techniques. 2fa provides maximum security against stolen credentials which, without 2fa, can allow unauthorized access into an account.
With 2fa in place, we verify ourselves in two different ways. First, we enter our login credentials – typically username and password. Secondly, with 2fa activated, we enter an OTP or PIN which is either sent to your email address or to your phone via SMS. Once you receive the PIN you enter it and compete the login process. 2fa helps reduce the chance an actor hacking into your account and reduces the effectiveness of stolen credentials.
Similarly, you can add further factors – creating a Multi-factor login process to augment the security of entry into your network.
At present, most companies are relying upon Virtual Private Networks (‘VPNs’) to provide a secure entry for remote work devices into the company network. Once the VPN is set up, it creates an encrypted and secure tunnel from your endpoint to the office network.
The problem with relying on a VPN is that once a device is connected to the network, they have full access. With no additional access control, a user can maneuver laterally through network resources. Additionally, recent stories point to growing vulnerabilities in VPN servers with a growing list of published exploits to abuse by malicious actors.
So, if you stop using VPN technology, what are your options to protect the network from the vulnerabilities posed by remote access?
The answer is Zero-Trust Networking (‘ZTN’). The benefit of ZTN is, through design, it regulates what specific applications can be exposed to external users (third party or contractors) and employees working from home. By leveraging ZTN, you can choose to expose a single IP and Port pair or a single specific web application. Remote users will not be able to navigate through the network when they connect to internal applications via ZTN.
Summing it Up
There is no telling how long the increased remote work world will exist, but one thing is for sure – its’ not going to end anytime soon. For better or worse, remote access is here and with the opportunities it has brought for some workers it has also brought new challenges to cybersecurity. When normalcy returns, the likelihood will remain that companies will have an increased remote workforce compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Remote working, while convenient, brings several security risks which are manageable for companies that continue to assess the threat and make an appropriate adjustments to their network security. Security adjustments can begin by assessing your network security posture against the aforementioned security checklist and take appropriate actions to address gaps.
A successful security breach requires a vulnerable spot to attack. If adequately protect all devices and ensure proper security protocols the attacker will move on to an easier target.