Securing the network for remote access
Why securing remote access is important, how to fine-tune your processes, and do’s and don’ts for the best results.
Why this is a Key Area during COVID-19:
Remote access is the number one attack vector for hackers use to gain access to your computers and networks. Hackers will exploit any vulnerability they can find to steal data, steal personal information, inject malicious code, or alter or delete files — the outcome can be catastrophic.
Make sure your company is secure during this crisis by securing remote access to your network. With everyone working from home, it’s imperative to confirm the identity of each user by implementing Multifactor Authentication (MFA). Just because employees are accessing your network from home doesn’t mean your company should accept risk it otherwise wouldn’t. Don’t skimp on adding other protections as well and be clear with employees about what is and isn’t acceptable regarding company data.
Fine-tuning once you’ve transitioned to remote working:
With your first (and maybe second) round of remote-access security issues behind you, it’s time to take a deeper look at risk and compensating controls. Stay the course with the do’s and don’ts listed below, and also think about protecting your network from both a more granular and integrated perspective. You can ask:
- Are the remote-access security practices we’re currently using sufficient to protect our organization while employees are working from home? Ex: Wireless encryption protocol, vulnerability management, MFA, digital asset protection, backups.
- Have we considered potential increases from insider risk and other threats? (Note: Risk in 2020 was greater before COVID-19 hit.)
- Have we updated our runbooks to reflect any changes we’ve made to secure remote access and documented any gaps we found?
- Do we want to consider how to get the same or similar visibility over our IT environment now that it extends into our employees’ homes while teleworking?
Managing the basics during COVID-19:
For a real-life example, see below.
Implement Digital Rights Management (DRM). DRM protects digital assets from unauthorized redistribution by embedding file ownership in the file. You control who can open files and you can grant or revoke access at any time.
Provide a secure way for employees to change expired passwords. Passwords time out for security purposes.
Implement a remote access single sign-on solution. When employees sign on at the office, they do so from a trusted domain — not so when working from home. You need a solution specifically for remote access.
Require your IT security team to review access logs more often. They need to check every IP address, which can take time when everyone is working from home. It’s better to review a shorter log more frequently to not miss anomalies.
Invest in endpoint protection software for your employees’ home computers. Buy antivirus protection that’s up to your company’s standards for your employees’ computers. It’s worth the investment. Most IT companies are offering deals right now.
Don’t allow employees to use consumer remote access apps. Apps like GoToMyPC or LogMeIn on work or home computers are not monitored and can be used to bypass security protocols.
Don’t give employee home computers unfettered access to your network. Limit what employees can do from unmanaged computers and restrict file sharing and copying.
Don’t relax password requirements even temporarily. Now is the time to tighten requirements instead.
Don’t permit sending company files via email. This bypasses security controls and can put your company at risk.
Don’t try to convert employees’ home computers into company computers. Making home computers part of your network will allow data downloads. Permitting console access instead is much more secure.
Don’t forget to talk about security with your employees. Let them know it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep the company network secure and protected.
An example of how to manage this key area
A real estate company provides laptops to most of its hundreds of employees so they can occasionally work remotely when working in the field. However, cybersecurity protections for zero-day threats and other web-based malware were designed to protect the laptops while working in the office — that’s where work requiring the most stringent security took place. With COVID-19, the company needed to unify security and access while everyone transitioned to working at home. Leapfrog worked quickly to implement a new endpoint management system that extends the cybersecurity protection remotely during this crisis and any that follow.