Have You Provided IT Security for Your Work From Home (WFH) Employees During the Coronavirus Outbreak and Beyond?

Have You Provided IT Security for Your Work From Home (WFH) Employees During the Coronavirus Outbreak and Beyond?

By Robert Costanza, Security Practice Director at Aspire Technology Partners

In an earlier article, my colleague Greg Klausa asked IT leaders, Do You Have a Business Continuity Plan to Combat Coronavirus? In this article, I am going to assume that you are, or will soon be, supporting a remote workforce. Now I have a new question, Have You Provided IT Security for Your Work From Home (WFH) Employees During the Coronavirus Outbreak and Beyond?

We are going to look at four cybersecurity tools available to your organization – at no charge – to help protect you and your employees as you are dealing with new challenges, such as an increase in remote workers. Cisco is providing extended free trials and expanded usage counts for its Umbrella, Duo, and AnyConnect. In addition, Aspire is offering a trial of Cisco CloudLock to help manage and secure your extended enterprise.

First, let’s see what is causing remote workforce vulnerabilities.

The nature of the spread of the current virus has an interesting parallel to cybersecurity threats. In both cases, the main vector for vulnerability is people contacting people. Most organizations have taken what I call “internal precautions” for cybersecurity – putting in place firewalls, endpoint protection, and providing training to employees about avoiding phishing schemes that can place the company in jeopardy from secondary threats like malware and ransomware.

Your employees often pose the biggest vulnerability to your organization’s cybersecurity. This isn’t because they’re bad – just the opposite! Your employees want to be good and helpful people which makes them easy targets. If they receive a call asking them for assistance or an email inquiring about how a customer can work with your company, they jump to the task. Unfortunately, this is how cyber criminals scam, scheme and phish their way into your organization to steal or ransom your data. In fact, according to research from Verizon, 81% of breaches involve compromised credentials.

While your internal workforce uses company-supplied, IT-supported hardware and software to conduct business, your external WFH workforce may be relying on personal devices – mobile phones, tablets and home computers – to conduct business. These devices, while convenient, are often outside of the control and management of your IT team, making them far more vulnerable to attack. Even if these devices are company supplied, WFH employees are using their home network to connect and access company resources.

In addition, those organizations that work with sensitive, personally identifiable information (PII) generally have policies and procedures in place for maintaining the privacy of these records. These policies often stem from industry or government regulations. For example, in healthcare, there are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations; in retail, there is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance; the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) places cybersecurity requirements on all covered financial institutions in New York State; and in education, there is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Each of these regulations exists to provide guidance, direction, and in some cases penalties for mismanagement, around data.

This is fine in most cases for inside the enterprise. However, what happens when many – or most – of your workforce is working from their homes or other remote locations? Are you prepared to provide the same level of data security to your work from home (WFH) remote workforce?

Let’s look at the four tools I mentioned earlier that you can put into place immediately to help secure your remote workforce and provide a greater level of comprehensive data security for your organization. These tools provide the following capabilities that are critical to securing your remote workforce:

  1. First Level Threat Detection and Defense
  2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  3. Secure Remote Work; Anytime, Anywhere
  4. Secure Cloud Access

First Level Threat Detection and Defense

When your users access the internet, it can open a gateway to all sorts of vulnerabilities. You need a tool that provides them with a first level of threat detection and defense.

Cisco Umbrella – Cisco Umbrella secures users at the DNS layer to easily protect them when they’re off the VPN or corporate network, making it easy to extend protection to roaming users and branch offices. Umbrella provides a fast, reliable internet experience to more than 100 million users daily, delivering effective security and internet-wide visibility on and off your network. Umbrella unifies firewall, secure web gateway, DNS-layer security, cloud access security broker (CASB), and threat intelligence solutions into a single platform to help businesses of all sizes secure their network.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

One of the most secure methods of credential access is through a process of multi-factor authentication (MFA), which grants access to network resources only after a user has successfully presented two or more types of credentials that can be authenticated. There are three standard types of authentication factors:

    1. Knowledge Factors – something that only the user knows, like a password.
    2. Possession Factors – something that only the user has, like a token or a one-time code.
    3. Inherence Factors – something that is linked directly to the user, like a fingerprint or biometric scan.

Cisco DUO – Cisco Duo is a cloud-based software service that provides multi-factor authentication (MFA) and additional layers of security designed to protect access to proprietary and third-party applications. Duo enables your IT team to control which internal applications are accessible by remote users to limit exposure to personal information and enforce policies at an application level.

Secure Remote Work: Anytime, Anywhere

When employees work from their homes, corporate firewall policies are no longer in use and that leaves home networks as a viable point of entry for threat actors. This leaves the organization vulnerable to unplanned risk. Another scenario is when employees work remotely from a nearby coffee shop; for example, there can be challenges in protecting their unsecured Wi-Fi access. In these cases, you want to provide a level of secure internet access that is not vulnerable to hackers.

Cisco AnyConnect – Cisco AnyConnect empowers your employees to work from anywhere, on company laptops or personal mobile devices, at any time. AnyConnect simplifies secure endpoint access and provides the security necessary to help keep your organization safe and protected.

Secure Cloud Access

Now that your users are working from home, and many other locations, they may no longer need a VPN into your office to get work done. Instead, they may rely on cloud applications, many of which are managed and controlled by IT.

Cisco CloudLock – Cisco CloudLock is a cloud-native cloud access security broker (CASB) that protects your cloud users, data, and apps. CloudLock’s simple, open, and automated approach uses APIs to manage the risks in your cloud app ecosystem.

How Do We Start?

If you have already begun enabling your remote workforce, we can help you secure them as well. In fact, we can have you up and running with fully functional versions of these four Cisco security solutions within minutes.

A trial version is risk- and commitment-free. We can provide a no-cost trial, setting you up for success to remotely secure your business. Aspire also offers the training and end-user assistance that will help you implement your organization’s work- or study-from-home security strategy quickly while maximizing your organization’s productivity.

Sign Up here and we can help your organization set-up for a free trial.

Aspire is a Cisco Master Collaboration Certified Partner

As a Cisco Master Collaboration Partner and Cisco Master Security Partner, Aspire has the highest level of collaboration and security certification available. This means that our team of experts has undergone rigorous training to pass a series of Cisco validation tests, certifying our expertise in Collaboration and Security solutions.

To learn more about remote security solutions, email me at rcostanza@aspiretransforms.com, or call me at 732-847-9600. To learn more about Aspire, visit AspireTransforms.com

Sign Up here and we can help your organization set-up for a free trial.

Aspire Technology Partners is a Cisco Gold Certified Partner engrained in solution pillars that set us apart as a true Cisco solutions provider. We are committed to the continuous improvement of expertise and skillsets around Cisco initiatives that enable us to help and guide customers in the adoption and management of technology architectures designed to transform their organization. We hold Cisco Master Specializations in Collaboration, Security, Cloud & Managed Services and is one of only 25 partners in the US to receive the Cisco Advanced Customer Experience Specialization.

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