Understanding Network Security in Remote Work Environments

by | Oct 12, 2020 | Networking, Security

As many companies shift their workforce to include a more flexible remote work methodology, there was a corresponding rise in security threats targeting remote employees and branch offices. This presents a unique set of issues for businesses that now need to secure devices and manage access to the proprietary information used by their roaming employees. Many companies simply don’t have the depth of experience, expertise, or knowledge to monitor and manage the increased number of endpoints now outside their internal corporate network.

Today I will share some of the broad security risks that remote work exposed, and how our partnership with Cisco solves many of these challenges. From DNS security, to multi-factor authentication, endpoint control, and VPNs, there’s a lot to consider when building your security posture.

An Immature Approach to Authentication

When devices are not connecting to an internal network to access business systems and applications, the importance of authentication increases. Companies need a way to ensure that any account connecting to their network from outside the organization has the authority to do so.

The use of a multi-factor authentication (MFA) system like Cisco Duo allows businesses to verify the identity of user accounts connecting to their applications. The solution is easy to set up and deploy and can be connected to a variety of cloud applications with a single sign-on (SSO) password. Users can also choose which method of authentication they’d like to use, with options ranging from push notifications on an app to answering pre-screened security questions.

Increased Phishing Attacks

As remote work increases, the ways that employees communicate with one another are shifting. Email is more heavily used than ever, a fact phishers are very aware of. Malware and phishing attempts are on the rise, and a staggering 68% of attacks were aimed directly at remote or mobile workers.

To mitigate the risk of employees clicking on potentially malicious links, solutions like Cisco Umbrella protect users at the DNS level. Umbrella does this by scanning the network to ensure that, when a URL is visited, it’s not marked as serving malicious content. Through the use of a cloud-native secure gateway, a range of security rules can be applied to any device through the use of a VPN. This allows IT staff control over the URLs clicked in potentially harmful emails, websites and more.

Unsecured Devices

The use of unprotected devices is on the rise, with employees working remotely utilizing the same laptops or mobile devices for work and personal use. Although BYOD is a known and solved challenge for network administrators, the rapid transition to work from home opened a wide range of potential security threats. Accessing the public internet for personal activities and then turning around and using the same device to access business applications can invite a host of potentially harmful malware entering your network.

Remote staff can mitigate this risk through the use of a VPN that can be used to access business-critical applications from outside the on-premise corporate network. Cisco AnyConnect allows remote staff to connect to your internal network from anywhere without compromising security. IT staff can quickly see all devices connected to the network and can conduct automated checks to ensure each device is free from harmful malware and viruses.

Insecure Connectivity

When working from home or another remote location, the question of network stability comes into play. Many home WiFi networks are not secured effectively, and using them to connect into a business network can quickly become troublesome. To maintain secure connectivity to your private network and all of the applications stored within it, the use of a VPN should be required.

Cisco AnyConnect creates a secure tunnel for traffic to pass through, allowing easy access to your most critical applications.

How to Shore Up Your Remote Worker Infrastructure

The growth of remote worker is creating new challenges for IT staff, who are quickly trying to deploy and manage a large increase in remote connections while maintaining their normal workflow. ZAG has the knowledge and expertise to help your internal staff deploy a secure remote work solution or take over the task completely, leaving your team to focus on their core business initiatives.

We surround our clients with attentive support and expert advice, taking a consultative and holistic approach to IT that suits your business’ needs. Our primary focus is to deliver solutions that enable growth, productivity, and enable you to complete more effectively in today’s market.

Contact us today to learn more about our IT Security Consulting capabilities.



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