When staff members work from home and your team is converting to a remote workforce, how do Set Up a Secure Network Connection at a Remote Site? There has never been a better time for employees and businesses to advance remote work because it is a trend that is growing more common in business and because of the current COVID-19 epidemic.
This manual intends to inform both small- and large business management and staff of the resources and procedures at their disposal.
The following security measures alone won’t be sufficient to resist cyber assaults. Each security step alone cannot provide secure remote work, but when used in combination with other security measures, they strengthen your cybersecurity.
1: Create a Cybersecurity Policy for Remote Employees
If your firm permits remote employees, you must establish a clear cybersecurity policy to ensure the security of each employee’s access to company data. Without a plan in place, any employee might quickly turn into a hacker’s point of access to your company’s network.
Set Up a Secure Network Connection at a Remote Site. Make a cybersecurity policy that specifies rules for adhering to security protocols at home or when traveling to prevent this from happening.
Policies could specify the intended use of encryption-enabled messaging apps like Signal or WhatsApp, regular computer security patching schedules, such as updating antivirus or anti-malware software, and procedures for remotely deleting lost devices.
You should think about providing laptops to your staff if your company has the resources to do so. The best method for securing remote work is to manually modify the firewall settings and install antivirus and anti-malware through your IT department.
Regularly backup your hard drives
Every company is only as good as its data. The majority of businesses today use encrypted cloud storage services to store their data online, but regular backups to physical drives are also advised because they cannot be remotely hacked.
Not just your company’s direct employees run the danger of jeopardizing the internal network. Your policy should cover third-party vendors as well because they are also in charge of making entry points into the architecture of the system.
The data breach at Target is an illustration of a breach brought on by excessive vendor privileges. The Target case study demonstrates the need for businesses to revise their procedures when granting privileges to outside parties in order to avoid unintentionally weakening their security.
By making a list of all vendor links, you can better comprehend your third-party environment while keeping third-party providers in mind. Once you have a plan, you may strengthen security by keeping an eye on vendor activity, researching it using session recordings, and checking for any indications of malicious behavior or rules violations.
Provide a service-level agreement to a third-party vendor (SLA). With this choice, vendors will be compelled to follow your company’s security policies or else suffer consequences.
Stop using shared accounts
Eliminating shared accounts among vendors is a straightforward yet effective strategy. Another benefit of using a password management solution is the reduction in danger of unauthorized access that comes with not using shared accounts.
Employees frequently use their phones for work-related functions as work and personal life grow more entwined. Although using a mobile device while working can put your company’s security in danger.
Remind your staff of the risk posed by insecure Wi-Fi networks. Your phone is vulnerable to prospective hackers looking to compromise it when connected to an unsecured Wi-Fi network. Only communicate using encrypted software to avoid any unwanted invasions.
It’s also important to limit the use of mobile applications while working. You can accomplish this by exploring the program permission settings on your phone (app permissions).
Set Up a Secure Network Connection at a Remote Site. Finally, preventing intrusion can be done by turning off Bluetooth while working.
Border Protection Network
In large enterprises, network traffic can be filtered to separate legitimate traffic from unauthorized users who could try to take advantage of your network. Due to the inherent threats, they pose to your system, this filtering enables you to examine and stop inbound requests that originate from illegitimate IP addresses.
Your firewall’s inbound rules can be configured to prevent incoming requests from unknown sources.
2: Select a Remote Access Programme
There are three main strategies to secure your online work when telecommuting. Direct application access, virtual private networks, or remote computer access are your possibilities.
Each approach has advantages and disadvantages. Select the strategy that best suits your company.
A remote computer can connect to the host computer from a secondary location outside of the office using remote PC access techniques like desktop sharing. With this configuration, the operator can use the host computer’s local files just as if they were in the office.
An employee can use a portable device as a display to access data on their work computer by logging into third-party programs.
Although direct access has its advantages, there is a great chance that this type of software may put the company’s internal network in danger because it adds another point of entry for outside threats to the local area network.
In order to reduce risk, the firm must encrypt not only its firewalls and communications but also the computers of its employees. Depending on the size of your company, you might find this alternative to be prohibitively expensive.
This kind of service is offered by programs like GoToMyPC, TeamViewer, and LogMeIn.
Private Internet Access
Software known as a virtual private network (VPN) encrypts data to establish a secure connection over the internet. Remote employees can safeguard their data transmissions from outside parties by employing tunneling protocols to encrypt and decrypt messages from sender to receiver.
Most frequently, distant employees will connect to their company’s VPN gateway using a remote access VPN client to gain access to the internal network, but only after authenticating. When using VPNs, there are often two options: Secure Sockets Layer or IP Security (IPsec) (SSL).
On the remote device, IPsec VPNs are manually installed and set up. To access the corporate network, they will ask the operator to provide information such as the gateway IP address of the target network and the security key.
SSL VPNs are more recent and simpler to set up. The network administrator makes the VPN client available for download and publishes it to the company firewall rather than manually installing it. After that, the worker can access a target web page to download the VPN client.
A VPN connection’s disadvantage is that any distant device using a VPN has the potential to introduce malware to the network it connects to.
It is in the best interest of enterprises to require employees using remote devices to abide by its security regulations if they intend to use VPNs for remote work.
VPN installation varies depending on the type and operating system, but it is quite easy to complete.
Access to Direct Applications
Direct access to work applications is the remote work solution with the lowest risk. Employees can operate remotely within specific network applications rather than connecting to the complete network.
There is little chance of putting a company’s internal network at risk of cyber-predation when employing this way to work. The infrastructure of the network uses granular, perimeter applications, limiting the attack surfaces for vulnerable data breaches.
Direct application access significantly reduces the risk of malicious actors, but it also limits work to the boundaries of a single program. The quantity of work that an employee can accomplish pales in comparison to the aforementioned remote access methods because they have minimal connectivity to all the data on the company’s network.
3: Utilize Encryption to Set Up a Secure Network Connection at a Remote Site
It’s essential to choose an access method for your remote employees, but it’s also crucial that those ways apply encryption to protect their data and connections.
Encryption is the process of transforming data into code or ciphertext, to put it simply. Only those who have the cipher or key can decrypt the data and utilize it.
Software encryption adds a degree of security for companies and remote workers. For instance, encryption software is the first line of defense in preventing unauthorized access if a remote employee’s computer is lost or misplaced and is found by a bad actor.
The standard for Advanced Encryption
Due to its interoperability with a wide range of applications, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is currently the security standard used by the majority of enterprises to protect data.
It employs symmetric key encryption, in which case a key is used to decrypt the data sent by the sender. Its use is preferable to asymmetric encryption since it is quicker to employ. To secure business data, look for encryption software that employs AES.
Encryption from end to end
Look for programs that employ end-to-end encryption when utilizing things like email or software for general communication because it uses exceptionally powerful encryption that cannot be hacked if the two end points are secure.
4: Use a Password-Management Programmer
Password management software is an essential tool for ensuring the security of remote workers because the majority of data breaches are caused by the use of credentials that were obtained unlawfully.
Generate Passwords at Random
In addition to storing passwords in an encrypted database, password management software can also generate and retrieve complicated, random password combinations. With this ability, firms can completely cut down on the use of passwords that are the same or similar.
The consequences of using similar passwords are extensive. For instance, if a malicious party gets their hands on your username and password, they could use them to connect to other web apps or properties.
It should go without saying that because of our limited memory, humans frequently reuse passwords, with or without minor modifications. By using secure passwords that are only known to you, you can prevent this from happening and the subsequent rabbit hole of consequences.
Rotating Passwords Automatically
Automated password rotation is another feature of password management software. Passwords are frequently reset, as the term implies, to reduce potential usage. Sensitive data is less susceptible to assault by shortening a password’s lifespan.
Making one-time-use credentials is another method you can use to password-protect your data. Create a spreadsheet that serves as a “safe” for passwords to implement one-time-use credentials.
Have the user mark the password in the spreadsheet as “checked out” when you use a single-use password for business purposes. Have the user check the password once again and retire it after the task is finished.
5: Use Two-Factor Authentication.
A crucial component of access control is user identity authentication. Usually, one would need a login and password to log in. You can boost the security of remote work by making two login criteria essential rather than just one with two-factor authentication. In essence, it adds another level of login security.
To authorize access, two pieces of information are used in two-factor authentication. It uses login information like a username, password, and either a secret question or pin code that is sent to the user’s phone or email.
Since, unusually, bad actors will have access to both pieces of information, this strategy makes it difficult for them to get access to systems.
Set Up a Secure Network Connection at a Remote Site. It is advised that companies use this security precaution for system log-ins.
6: Apply the least privilege principle.
Limiting employee privileges is a practical way to reduce security risk. There are three types of network security rights: super users, regular users, and guest users, with progressively fewer privileges for each. However, the opinions of visitors are irrelevant to this topic.
Those with full access to system privileges are known as superusers. By carrying out operations including installing or changing software, settings, and user data, they can make changes that are reflected throughout a network.
When superusers’ accounts are obtained by malicious parties, the most severe disasters take place. Super users have varied names depending on the operating system you use administrator accounts in Windows systems and root accounts in Linux or Unix systems.
The basic user also referred to as the least privileged user, is the second user account worth mentioning because it only has a few privileges. You want your employees to utilize this restricted account the majority of the time, especially if they don’t belong in your IT department.
We advise all staff members to utilize regular user accounts for everyday tasks as a precaution. Trusted IT team members should only be given superusers rights, and they should only utilize these specific identities for administrative tasks when necessary. By minimizing excess, this strategy—also known as the concept of least privilege—dramatically reduces the chance of a serious data leak.
Get rid of abandoned accounts
Orphaned accounts are a problem since they are outdated user accounts that include usernames, passwords, emails, and other information. These accounts typically belong to former employees who are no longer associated with the business. Even though these former workers may have left, you never know if their accounts are still accessible on your network.
If your company is unaware that they exist, the problem is that they are difficult to see. Orphaned accounts can be used by threats to increase their privileges if you have them on your network and they discover them.
The pass-the-hash (PtH) acronym is used to describe these attacks. These sneaky attacks use low-level credentials to break into your network and attempt to acquire an admin account’s password hash. Hackers can use the hash to unlock administrative access rights if it is taken.
The use of a privileged access management solution is the most effective technique to discover and eliminate orphaned accounts and any possible dangers. These tools make it easier to find and delete persistent accounts.
7: Develop cybersecurity training for employees
A significant portion of the threat to a company’s network security is internal workers. An employee’s negligence or malice was to blame for little over one-third of all data breaches in 2019.
It’s not necessary to be like that. Instead, organizations may reduce the risk of insider threats by fostering a security culture and educating staff members on cybersecurity best practices.
Devices’ Physical Security
Secure remote workers by persuading them to lock computers when they are physically moving around, to start with. There is less possibility of theft if their equipment is not physically accessible.
Second, remind staff members to be mindful of any bystanders when entering sensitive data, such as logins or passwords, when working in public areas. Shoulder surfing is a phenomenon that is more prevalent than it first appears to be.
Give your staff the instructions to always log off or turn off their laptops when not in use. A computer that is not password-protected can be accessed as easily by leaving it on as it can by a virus.
Last but not least, if passwords are written down on paper, have your staff cut up the paper instead of just throwing it away.
Protective Internet Protocols
If your company is unable to give remote employees laptops or computers with internet-filtering software, you can establish rules for best practices in secure browsing, installing pop-up blockers, and downloading reliable business programs.
Attacks through Social Engineering
Social engineers are bad actors who manipulate people’s psychology to coerce them into disclosing private information. These social engineering attacks can take many different shapes, but phishing attacks are the most prevalent.
These attacks are created by hackers to trick workers into visiting a false landing page where they can steal information or put malware on their computers to undermine network security.
Phishing attacks most frequently come from unsolicited emails. Therefore, teach employees not to click on strange links in messages or open unwanted emails, and warn them about attachments.
Malicious actors will always pose a threat to business network security in a globally dispersed company environment. Businesses must take precautions to secure remote work for their employees in light of this risk or face the repercussions. Watch our expert’s presentation on infrastructure security for remote offices for more detailed instructions.
Whatever the size of your company, there are low-cost measures you can take to safeguard your way of life. Engage our experts for a consultation if you need assistance choosing the best course of action for your company. Listen to one of our experts discuss the need of maintaining strict control over Office 365 security while working remotely.
To finish the process of securing your network, learn Set Up a Secure Network Connection at a Remote Site.