Securing a Remote World

man work from home

Amid the pandemic, organizations like yours have been forced to shift teams over to a remote working model. Work-from-home (WFH) has meant continuity and stability this last year. But it’s also had a profound impact on digital security. According to this recent Malwarebytes report, 20% of businesses have faced a security breach that’s directly attributable to working from home. 

This is big: it’s a challenge we’re all going to continue to face through 2021. WFH is here to stay and so are the security threats it creates. Over the next 5 years, organizations worldwide are expected to lose up to $10.5 trillion to cybercriminals. With WFH spanning into the long term, a big chunk of that risk is coming from your workforce. What can you do to reduce this threat and take back control of your WFH cybersecurity? 

Work-from-Home Isn’t the Same as Work-from-Anywhere

Over the past decade, the world’s gradually been moving towards a work-from-anywhere model, thanks to faster, more reliable internet access, a host of new collaboration tools and changing personal priorities. Work-from-anywhere was an endpoint we were building towards, through SharePoint, Teams and video conferencing. 

WFH resembles work-from-anywhere, but it’s not the same thing. Between the pandemic, lockdowns and immense uncertainty, organizations across the world were forced to cobble together a work-from-home strategy with little warning and next to no time to prepare. WFH is, in many ways, a preview of work-from-anywhere, but without the solid foundation and best practices to keep you secure.

Security: the key difference

The biggest point of departure between work-from-home and work-from-anywhere is in terms of security. In the future, work-from-anywhere will likely be backed by universal, AI-based security protocols that ensure data safety, regardless of the network or device you’re using.

Right now, though, work-from-home means that your team members often use unsecured devices on unsecure networks, leaving your organization wide open to hackers. How do you ensure robust work-from-home security in the here and now? It’s time for a rethink. 

Back to the Basics: Rethinking Your WFH Security 

There’s a massive gap between your security posture in-office and the security of your work-from-home environments. What can you do to bridge that gap? You need to go back to the basics by adapting the fundamentals of your in-office security to work-from-home environments. You’ll also need to rethink approaches to your postCOVID workforce. 

Leveraging MFA and IAM

From a security and policy perspective, there is a lot you can do: enabling MFA (multi-factor authentication) is a great way to get started. MFA ensures that, even if some credentials are compromised, an extra layer of verification lies between your team members and sensitive data and apps. 

You’ll also want to ensure strict IAM (identity and access management) policies through Active Directory or other solutions. This will help guarantee that your team members always precisely have the right amount of access to sensitive data and applications that they need to get the job done. This brings us to rethinking your approach to an evolving, postCOVID workforce. 

WFH Security and Your Team

The current pandemic situation is a shared experience. Everyone – you, your clients and your team – are going through this unprecedented situation. This means that the things your team members do and, just as important, how they feel can have a tangible impact on your business outcomes. 

WFH is a less monitored environment than your office. It’s not just oversight that missing, it’s interpersonal relationships – that trust and rapport your team builds around the water cooler. When that’s no longer part of the equation, you need to rethink your approach to the workforce to ensure productivity and security. 

HUMINT and threats from within

When working from home, your team is subject to a whole range of HUMINT (human intelligence)-based attacks. Phishing, vishing and SMShing are just the tip of the iceberg here. Creative cybercriminals will leverage the “weakest link” factor to extract passwords and sensitive data from your team when they’re at their most vulnerable – at home. 

An even bigger workforce challenge, however, comes from within. Work-from-home has profound implications for your workforce morale and on factors like individual accountability. Moreover, employees have far greater autonomy when they’re working from home – disgruntled or demotivated staff members have the time and space to make decisions that put your business at risk or even harm other team members. There are preventive measures you need to take. Read through the steps that we recommend you take here.

Team building is critical

You need to recognize the signs of burnout and proactively work to ensure that team members feel like they’re still part of the team, even when they’re at home. You need to take steps to strengthen rapport: think beyond team-building exercises and pep talks.

You also need to be able to respond if and when disgruntled remote employees take harmful steps from within. A solid identity and access management solution is the key part of the puzzle. But in the event of an internal security incident, cyber forensics and tracking capabilities can help you quickly trace the path to ensure accountability. 

What Does All This Mean? Building an “Inside-Out” Security Model

From employee morale and security to data breaches on home networks, WFH introduces a whole set of new challenges for your organization to address. At a strategic level, the best way to solve these challenges and succeed is by realigning your security thinking. In pre COVID times, an “outside-in” approach was standard, with your security team focusing on external threats. 

In today’s post COVID world, you need to build an “inside-out” approach to your cybersecurity. That means ensuring that you start with a secure IT backbone, using best practices and thinking through the security of each solution as you build your network.

At Protocol Networks, we work with you to comprehensively identify the vulnerabilities in your existing WFH infrastructure and the gaps in your security so that you can build on a secure starting point. We’ll also help re-engineer your workforce approach to ensure collaboration and productivity, while minimizing threats from within. Protocol Networks can help you build robust security at a time when it’s more important than ever. Reach out today for a free consultation to discuss what is and isn’t working in your current setup.