When it comes to cybersecurity and home working, CIOs and IT teams have a challenge – How to ensure the same level of protection is provided for remote workers as they get when they are in the office. To help we have compiled a set of cybersecurity best practices for home workers to help IT teams prepare for a massive increase in telecommuting
The cybersecurity protections at home will not be nearly as good for home workers as protections in the office, which are much easier to implement and maintain. IT departments will therefore need to teach telecommuting workers cybersecurity best practices for home working and their devices will need to be configured to access applications and work resources securely. With so many workers having to telecommute, this will be a major challenge.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to rapidly expand the number of telecommuting workers and having to increase capacity in such a short space of time increases the potential for mistakes. Further, testing may not be nearly as stringent as necessary given the time pressure IT workers are under. Their teams too are likely to be depleted due to self-isolating workers.
One area where standards are likely to slip is staff training on IT. Many employees will be working from home for the first time and will have to use new methods and applications they will not be familiar with. The lack of familiarity can easily lead to mistakes being made. It is important that even though resources are limited you still teach cybersecurity best practices for home workers. Do not assume that telecommuting workers will be aware of the steps they must take to work securely away from the office.
Steps for IT Teams to Take to Improve Cybersecurity for Home Workers
Listed below are some of the key steps that IT teams need to take to improve security for employees that must now work from home.
Ensure VPNs are Provided and Updated
Telecommuting workers should not be able to access their work environment unless they use a VPN. A VPN will ensure that all traffic is encrypted, and data cannot be intercepted in transit. Enterprise-grade VPNs should be used as they are more robust and provide greater security. Ensure there are sufficient licenses for all workers, and you have sufficient bandwidth available. You must also make sure that the VPN is running the latest software version and patches are applied, even if this means some downtime to perform the updates. VPN vulnerabilities are under active attack.
Set up Firewalls for Remote Workers
You will have a firewall in place at the office and remote workers must have similar protections in place. Software firewalls should be implemented to protect remote workers’ devices. Home routers may have inbuilt firewalls. Talk employees through activating hardware firewalls if they have them on their home routers and ensure that passwords are set to prevent unauthorized individuals from connecting to their home Wi-Fi network.
Apply the Rule of Least Privilege
Remote workers introduce new risks, and with large sections of the workforce telecommuting, that risk is considerable. Remote workers are being targeted by cybercriminals and through web- and email-based attacks. In the event of a malware infection or credential theft, damage can be limited by ensuring workers only have access to resources absolutely necessary for them to perform their work duties. If possible, restrict access to sensitive systems and data.
Ensure Strong Passwords are Being Set
To protect against brute force attacks, ensure good password practices are being followed. Consider using a password manager to help employees remember their passwords. The use of complex passwords should be enforced.
Implement Multifactor Authentication
Multifactor authentication should be implemented on all applications that are accessed by remote workers. This measure will ensure that if credentials are compromised, system access is not granted unless a second factor is provided.
Ensure Remote Workers’ Devices Have Antivirus Software installed
Antivirus software must be installed on all devices that are allowed to connect to work networks and the solutions must be set to update automatically.
Set Windows Updates to Automatic
Working remotely makes it harder to monitor user devices and perform updates. Ensure that Windows updates are set to occur automatically outside of office hours. Instruct workers to leave their devices on to allow updates to take place.
Use Cloud-Based Backup Solutions
To prevent accidental data loss and to protect against ransomware attacks, all data must be backed up. By using cloud-based backups, in the event of data loss, data can be restored from the cloud-backup service.
Teach Cybersecurity Best Practices for Home Workers
All telecommuting workers must be shown how they need to access their work environment securely when working away from the office. Reinforce IT best practices with home workers, provide training on the use of VPNs, provide training on cybersecurity dos and don’ts when working remotely, and explain procedures for reporting problems.
Define Procedures for Dealing with a Security Incident
Members of the IT team are also likely to be working remotely so it is essential that everyone is aware of their role and responsibilities. In the event of a security incident, workers should have clear procedures to follow to ensure the incident is resolved quickly and efficiently.
Implement a Web Filter
A web filter will help to protect against web-based malware attacks by blocking access to malicious websites and will help to prevent malware downloads and the installation of shadow IT. Also consider applying content controls to limit employee activities on corporate-owned devices. Drive-by malware attacks have increased and the number of malicious domains registered in the past few weeks has skyrocketed.
Use Encrypted Communication Channels
When you need to communicate with telecommuting workers, ensure you have secure communications channels to use where sensitive information cannot be intercepted. Use encryption for email and secure text message communications, such as Telegram or WhatsApp.
Ensure Your Email Security Controls are Sufficient
One of the most important cybersecurity best practices for home workers is to take extra care when opening emails. Phishing and email-based malware attacks have increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. Ensure training is provided to help employees identify phishing emails and other email threats.
Consider augmenting email security to ensure more threats are blocked. If you use Office 365, a third-party email security solution layered on top will provide much better protection. Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is unlikely to provide the level of protection you need against phishing and zero-day malware threats. Consider an email security solutions with data loss protection functions to protect against insider threats.
Monitor for Unauthorized Access
More devices connecting to work environments makes it much easier for threat actors to hide malicious activity. Make sure monitoring is stepped up. An intrusion detection system that can identify anomalous user behavior would be a wide investment.
For further information on enhancing email security and web filtering to protect remote workers during the coronavirus pandemic, contact TitanHQ today.