Prioritized Cyber Security Solutions for Distributed Workplaces

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The on-going Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in a radical shift in the way business is conducted. Organizations are forced to rethink their operating models and incorporate drastic changes in order to ensure continued sustenance.

While many organizations are still grappling with what this means for them, a select minority have already started riding the wave. They have recognized the crucial role of agile, de-centralized and distributed business enablers in this new world order and are readying their workforce with the necessary tele-working tools and resources to reinforce business assurance.

New ventures bring about new rewards and with them, new risks. Cyber Security threats are not to be taken lightly in the context of a remotely connected workforce.

A recent study by US highlights increased cybercriminal activity in the aftermath of Covid-19, particularly in the areas of phishing and business email compromise. It is imperative, therefore, that organizations take due cognizance of looming threats and adopt a wholistic approach to strengthen their Cyber Security posture.

Emphasis must be laid on educating an isolated and vulnerable workforce and bolstering employees into a robust first line of defense.

Ingram Micro Cyber Security remains committed to supporting our partners and end-customers to navigate the security challenges in a distributed work environment.

We indicate below the Cyber Security solutions and services that organizations must evaluate and prioritize for implementation to address risks appropriately.

Cyber Security Solution Priorities for a Distributed Workplace

  1. Application Whitelisting.

Application whitelisting limits the list of permitted applications and executables installed on a user’s laptop. In a Covid-19 induced distributed workplace, users connect via home internet connections with no restrictions on pages accessed and content downloaded. Application whitelisting plays a vital role in this scenario by potentially blocking malware from being installed on endpoints.

  • CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker).

The importance of CASB tool is heavily punctuated by remotely connected work environments that are seeking to tap into the flexibility and cost savings propounded by cloud platforms. CASB is a security policy enforcement solution that works by providing deep insights on organizational data flowing through the cloud and enabling authorized administrators to enforce policies for their secure management.

  • DLP (Data Leakage Prevention).

Organizational data requires appropriate protection from breaches involving unauthorized disclosure, loss or destruction depending on its sensitivity levels. Achieving this in a distributed and remotely connected work environment is highly challenging. Data Leakage Prevention solutions, described commonly as tools and procedures to regulate the flow of data outside of trusted environments, are highly crucial under these conditions. DLP must be deployed at endpoint (laptop, mobile, tablet) level and at the network level to prevent data breaches.

  • Endpoint Protection Platform.

Endpoint Protection Platforms fortify endpoint security levels by integrating a suite of endpoint-specific security technologies including host-based firewalls, endpoint detection and response (EDR), data leakage prevention, host-based IPS, etc. The one-stop shop approach of an EPP offers meaningful and efficient protection against a broad range of threats, including those that target remote users in a distributed workplace.

  • File Share Security.

Remote users are prone to conjure up less conventional and ingenious methods to transfer files between themselves, customers and partners, thereby incurring the risk of data breach. File share security solutions enable organizations to deter “Shadow IT” and stove point solutions by introducing platforms for secure and managed exchange of files between authorized users.

  • MDM (Mobile Device Management).

Smartphones, tablets and laptops play a vital role in fostering a highly agile and effective remote workforce. However, on the downside, organizational data on these devices is poorly managed and the role of security is under-stated. Mobile Device Management solutions lend order to this chaotic ecosystem by enabling named administrators to define baseline security controls on scoped mobile devices, enforce them and monitor compliance. They also include recovery techniques such as remote wiping of organizational data in the event of theft or loss of a device.

  • Multi-Factor Authentication.

Multi-factor authentication invokes two or more principles to verify user identities, across something they know (eg. passwords) , have (eg. tokens, smart cards) or are (eg.biometric aspects such as fingerprints). MFA adds an additional layer of security particularly in the context of remote users seeking to access organizational information assets.

  • Remote Access VPN.

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) provide a tunnel for secure communication between remotely connected endpoints and corporate servers, storage, etc. These technologies minimize the risk of exposure to outsider threats (snoopers and “man-in-the-middle” attacks) including unintended compromise and/or leak of confidential data.

  • Email Security.

Email plays a vital role in ensuring connectivity and productivity across a distributed workforce. Email security systems offer a protective layer against email based attacks by regulating access to mailboxes via strong authentication mechanisms, protection of files and content sent over email via digital signatures, encryption, etc. and accurately identifying and filtering spam and phishing emails from employees’ inboxes. The role of email security is heavily vital, therefore, in the Covid-19 induced distributed workplaces.

  1. Web Security (Proxy).

Visible endpoint IP addresses on the world wide web (www) are a recipe for disaster, especially in the context of a remote work environment. A Web proxy server acts as a gateway for user internet access. It monitors and only allows internet access to users based on predefined security policies. Given the current situation, it is crucial to best employ these security solutions as part of a continuous vigilance and caution against cyber attackers.

Conclusion

Within a few weeks, Covid-19 has drastically changed the way organizations function. With the workplace becoming distributed and employees connecting remotely, cybercriminal activity has quickly adapted. It is more pronounced, targeted and purpose-built for this new world order.

The Cyber Security solutions discussed in the article must be evaluated and prioritized by organizations to ensure their crown jewels remain duly protected and business value continues to be delivered.

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