Prior to the pandemic, most organizations had their staff work in offices. The devices they used for work were there and so was the company network. To protect this setup, organizations only needed to implement perimeter defenses ranging from keycard-activated doors to network firewalls.
However, the pandemic forced countless companies in Georgia and beyond to implement remote work setups. And because remote workers are outside of the company’s protective office perimeter, businesses must rethink how they must safeguard company data. Here are a couple of tips on how to do just that.
Limit access to the company network
Accessing the company network from outside its firewalls and other protective perimeter defenses often means exposing the entire network to bad actors. Data exposure can be minimized by implementing the principle of least privilege, i.e., letting users access only the data they need to accomplish their tasks. This means that if a user’s account has been taken over by a hacker, that hacker can’t explore the entire network, but rather just the files and folders that the user is privy to.
Use a virtual private network (VPN)
When remote employees access company files stored in the machines in your office, their connection may be compromised, thereby allowing a hacker to copy or steal the data in what is known as a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack. Since users might not be able to help but use unsecure connections like public Wi-Fi, requiring them to use a VPN will help secure your sensitive data. A VPN encrypts data traffic online, so even if a cybercriminal tries to snatch your data, all they’ll get is an unintelligible jumble of letters and numbers.
Migrate data to the cloud
A cost-effective way to protect your data is to migrate it to a cloud service that can sufficiently encrypt data at rest (i.e., kept in storage) and in transit (i.e., delivered to a cloud user). Moreover, IT admins can also apply the principle of least privilege on cloud users, thereby limiting the data that could be exposed via compromised user accounts.
Secure the end users’ end
Once data arrives at your remote workers’ devices, it can be exposed in a variety of ways:
- The network that the remote worker is using may be vulnerable. Public Wi-Fi networks are notoriously unsecure. Hackers primarily use these to perform MITM attacks, but they can also use these to spread malware like keyloggers. Beyond public Wi-Fi networks, home networks are also vulnerable to drive-by cyberattacks.
- Your remote staff’s devices may be compromised. Your employees may be using personal devices for work purposes. They may forget to install updates and apply security patches to their machines. Unbeknownst to them, their devices may already be infected with data-stealing malware. Furthermore, they may be using unvetted apps that download malware onto users’ machines.
- Users’ corporate accounts may be breached. Cybercriminals typically send phishing emails that trick employees into entering corporate account credentials into fake login pages. Users who fall for this trick and submit their credentials are practically relinquishing their accounts to cybercriminals.
These vulnerabilities show that you also need to secure end users' devices and accounts to protect company data. One way to safeguard employees’ machines is by implementing mobile data management (MDM). By enrolling your employees’ devices into your MDM program, you can easily roll out necessary software updates and security patches. Your IT admins can create corporate user accounts within employees’ personal devices so that they can monitor those accounts like they would on company-issued devices. Admins can use programs that keep malware at bay, as well as machine learning-powered tools that can identify suspicious behaviors like data exfiltration.
Furthermore, you can also require multifactor authentication for corporate accounts. By asking your staff to provide more identification information beyond their username and password, unauthorized users are less likely to gain access to those accounts.
Last but not least, you must provide remote staff with cybersecurity training. By increasing their familiarity with things like phishing emails and teaching them proper protocols on how to respond to various cyberthreats, your team will become an extra line of defense against data breaches.
Cybersecurity is a messy war marked by an ever-escalating arms race. To win your battles, you need Athens Micro as your ally. Let our cybersecurity experts protect your business, be it in a traditional office setup or a remote work setup. Contact us to learn more.
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