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Your Ultimate Strategy for Securing Remote Work Endpoints

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic pushed almost every company to operate remotely. While work-from-home has become the new normal, it has created new pathways for cyberattacks.

A few weeks before the end of 2020, hackers breached software provider SolarWinds, directly infecting the company’s Orion software as well as several local, state and federal agencies in the United States. Private companies like Microsoft also got exposed to malware.

Based on the SEC documents submitted by SolarWinds, it verified that around 18,000 of its customers installed the trojanized updates from its software. This led to a massive search inside enterprise networks and continuous checks to ensure that second-stage malware payloads will be prevented.

According to the research data analyzed and published by the Finnish website Sijoitusrahastot, hacking attempts like this will push companies to increase their cybersecurity spending by 20% in 2021. From $40.8 billion in 2019, the total cybersecurity spending in 2020 is $43.1 billion. It is expected to reach $51.7 billion in 2021.

North America is forecast to hold the biggest market size because of the presence of many key players and tech companies in the region. At the second spot is Europe, followed by APAC.

Additionally, a Gartner report states that informational security spending alone reached $128.8 billion in 2020. Aside from the recent hacks, the coronavirus pandemic is also causing short-term demand in areas such as remote worker technology and cloud adoption. Security services got the highest spending, followed by infrastructure protection and network security equipment.

According to OpenVPN, 54% of IT professionals believe that remote employees pose a greater security risk than on-site employees. As such, geographically distributed teams, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), relying on our own’s Wi-Fi network, unprotected OS, and operations has brought unique security challenges. Additionally, new OS bugs and phishing attacks are on the rise in an era where cybersecurity is already a challenging task. Besides attacking the machines inadequate for a working environment, attackers have also taken advantage of COVID-19 fears. For example, in April, around 500,000 hacked zoom accounts given away for free on the dark web. There have also been ample amounts of reports of attackers sniffing at the pandemic and vaccine data. Consequently, we have reached a crucial point and the need for endpoint security has never been more important.

To mitigate security risks, companies must put in place clear and comprehensive policies. They must also take proactive measures to ensure the safety and integrity of company data.

Remote Working: The New Norm With New Security Challenges

Organizations’ response towards the coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in remote workers. For most businesses, it has become the new standard as SOPs are disrupted and they look to adapt to the continuously changing environment. As such, there are more employees working outside the corporate network than ever before. They are working with their own devices including, desktops, laptops, tablets via home networking with no firewall protecting them. These are the prime targets for perpetrators as the remote workforce can leave the backdoor open for them to sneak in. With phishing attacks and fake coronavirus maps, they are gaining corporate credentials or spreading malware and ransomware. Going forward, companies must identify and address remote workforce security concerns to continue remote work.

Business VPN

According to VPN Mentor, the major concerns related to online privacy, 63% are most concerned with identity theft, while 45% said banking and credit card fraud.

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To safeguard such vital environments, a Virtual Private Network or VPN is used to provide end-to-end encryption for digital devices. Going a step ahead, a business VPN enables the remote workforce to operate on a secured, encrypted web connection. Once the company data is encrypted, it is private and secure from open Wi-Fi networks, hackers, and advertisers.

Business VPNs offer the features of opening up network segmentation, providing network visibility, and on-premise security. Furthermore, they are more useful when teams are collaborating on the cloud and share resources online. In comparison to traditional VPNs, business VPNs offer more flexibility with a cloud-based platform, increased security, privacy, and user-access control analytics.

Complete Endpoint Visibility

Currently, the main challenge for IT teams is to maintain an environment that is well beyond their reach. Reports suggest that around 90% of data breaches happen because of human error. According to Forrester Research, 53% of information users use their own personal devices for work; install unsupported software; or use unsupported Internet-based services like Dropbox, Skype, Twitter, or Facebook to complete their jobs. Other than that, vulnerable user-bound elements include Google Drive, local storage on their HDD, USBs, External HDDs, Box, and other tools which are susceptible to threats. Hence, unauthorized downloads, updates, and app launches can create a path for intruders.

In most cases, IT teams get left behind in accessing the situation and get involved when the damage had already been done. Hence, the remote environment demands a solution that can keep an eye on real-time, live information. With this, all the devices in the network will be at the same security level and can dramatically reduce the threat surface. Therefore, it is advisable to provide the staff with encrypted devices to reduce your risk for breach and reinforce better endpoint security.

Real-time Breach Remediation

With complete visibility, businesses must also employ a solution that can keep an eye out as well as offer resolution over conflicts in a remote environment.

For example, when Signify was attacked by a virus, it isolated the devices which were not protected. Then it fixed them immediately via remotely deployed fix without impacting the users or the working pipeline. With the right tools set in place, businesses will be able to detect issues and fix them quickly. They would be able to take control regardless of the situation, whether it is a prompt remedy, real-time configuration, or some other. Solutions must be centered around the remote work that offers speed, flexibility, and agility needed to keep up with the changing environment.

Continuous Upgrades

While businesses do need to check live information, they also need to keep upgrading them in patches according to the latest security compliances.

Running old systems and operations without up-to-date credentials can be detrimental to businesses. They need to address issues concerning outdated operating systems, certifications, licenses. Besides, having up-to-date systems and proactive upgrades eliminates the chances of system outages. The upgrade system should also include patches on OS on endpoint devices.

The 2017 WannaCry computer ransomware is a prime example of attacks on out-of-date operating systems. That’s why security experts always recommend updating your systems frequently. The virus was designed to take over the computer or cloud files and holds them hostage. The WannaCry ransomware spread through computers in 150 countries, causing massive productivity losses and costing $4 billion to businesses, hospitals, and government organizations.

In the current unprecedented times, it is imperative for businesses to create a secure endpoint ecosystem. With a large amount of digital data generated daily, attackers are always on the lookout for taking advantage of compromised ends. As time progresses, our reliance on remote and cloud is only going to increase. As such, businesses must stay at the forefront of the current remote work scenario as well as overall cybersecurity strategies.

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