Author: Giridhara Raam M, Product Consultant at ManageEngine
Businesses around the world have experienced numerous changes in their operations, culture, customer support, spending, and investments as a result of COVID-19. Many businesses have survived this global crisis thanks to technology that enables employees to work from home. Virtual meetings, remote support, and remote collaboration are all possible using remote workforce management tools like e-meeting applications, presentation software, and remote IT troubleshooting tools.
Although many businesses managed to adapt to this new culture swiftly, few are practicing effective cybersecurity for their remote workforce and devices, and some have already been impacted by cyberattacks.
Cybercrime has increased during these tough times, and malicious actors have successfully breached major entities, including healthcare institutions.
Businesses are scaling up their operations and are working to improve the security of their remote workforce; however, they need to be ready to adapt to the security demands the remote workforce generates.
According to the Gartner HR Survey, 41 percent of employees are “likely to work remotely at least some of the time post coronavirus pandemic.” This is why managing the remote workforce and its security is pivotal both now and after the pandemic. To help organizations manage remote employees, Gartner suggests following the NEAR model, which is comprised of four steps: Normalize Self-Direction, Enable New Relationships, Accentuate the Positive, and Revamp Team Expectations.
Below are five key cybersecurity strategies that businesses should adopt in the post-COVID-19 world to improve the security of their remote users and devices along with the data associated with them.
Zero Trust security
When several employees are working remotely, business need to validate the devices that are establishing a connection with the corporate network. Businesses should adopt a Zero Trust identity and access management procedure.
In a Zero Trust environment, IT administrators will not trust any devices until the device details and the reason for connection are displayed. Only verified and trusted devices will be allowed to connect to the corporate network while potentially malicious connection requests are blocked.
Considering that the demand for IT-related troubleshooting and configuration routines are skyrocketing for IT administrators, businesses should start automating their IT operations to reduce the burden on the IT department.
Device enrollment, onboarding, deploying predefined configurations, patch management, updating passwords, software installations, and OS updates should be automated to ensure reduced service-level agreement (SLA) resolution times, improved productivity, and better security.
Automated patch management for different platforms and applications is a major priority; however, this process should include testing. Testing patches in a small-scale environment can help eliminate performance issue tickets related to patches.
In recent times, malware has become more adaptive and sophisticated. It can evaluate the victim’s device and network, and patiently wait for the right vulnerability to pop up. Once a vulnerability is discovered, it is easy to breach the business’ network and steal sensitive information.
Autonomous and adaptive malware has high success rates and can breach nearly any platform or application. With the right malware detection tools powered with AI, businesses can identify malware in minutes, which can take days or weeks otherwise. According to the Capgemini Research Institute report, 51 percent of enterprises primarily rely on AI for threat detection, prediction, and response.
Further, a report by Statista states that 75 percent of enterprises rely on AI-based platforms and solutions for network security. With AI, technicians have the upper hand on discovering and responding to threats. For instance, with AI, detecting and analyzing a SQL injection can be automated so that it is precise and efficient, and so that threats are detected at an early stage, before they grow sophisticated.
Businesses often utilize different types of devices. This could include bring your own device (BYOD), corporate owned personally enabled (COPE), or choose your own device (CYOD) devices. On top of this, many organizations employ a variety of full time, part-time, contractual, and remote employees. Adding OSs, applications, and user privileges to the mix only complicates things further.
With a heterogeneous environment, IT administrators need to be able to secure, manage, and troubleshoot all these objects from one central console without compromising on security. IT departments can streamline endpoint management using a mobile device management or endpoint management solution, however the best solution is a combination of unified endpoint management and mobile device management, also known as modern management.
Modern management is a unified approach to managing legacy and modern applications, providing enhanced visibility, security, and awareness to IT departments.
Cybersecurity awareness and courses
Cybersecurity control and strategies aside, providing cybersecurity awareness and knowledge to employees is essential. If employees know which signs to look out for that indicate an attack, they will know how they should and how they should not respond. Knowledge is power, and armed with the right information, employees can avoid falling victims to attacks.
Additionally, businesses can offer free cybersecurity awareness courses to employees, and reward them with a certificate upon completion of the course. This will help motivate employees to finish the required courses.
In the face of COVID-19, everything has changed and will continue to evolve. Following the guidance issued by the Dubai Executive Council, Government entities adopted a 100 percent remote work system and private sector entities were ordered to have atleast 80 percent of their workforce operating from home.
With more employees working remotely in the future, the demand for cybersecurity for remote workforces will rise. If your business already has the right vision, knowledge, tools, and implementation strategies, you are one step ahead.