Best Practices for Remote Workers’ Endpoint Security

Monday, July 22, 2019

Mathivanan Venkatachalam

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Remote workers often use corporate devices and computers when working at home or from a local office. When travelling, they might use personal mobile phones or computers to carry out their official tasks. Regardless of the endpoint used to access corporate data, one of an IT admin’s most important jobs is to secure that data while it’s stored on and accessed by corporate and personal endpoints. Below, we’ll look at best practices for getting that job done as well as one company embracing them.

Encrypt devices - When users travel, your organization’s confidential data goes with them. Wherever confidential data is stored, it must be protected against unauthorized access particularly if a device was lost or stolen.

Practice the principle of least privilege - Only grant necessary and sufficient permissions that users need to carry out their activities, for a limited time. Restricting users to the minimum rights required by their tasks will greatly reduce the attack surface of the remote workforce.

Make access conditional – Before remote workers connect to the corporate network, ensure their endpoints comply with your security policies such as running up-to-date patches and security products. This applies to both corporate and personal devices.

Sandbox work applications -Sandbox your enterprise applications so that corporate data can't be accessed by other, possibly malicious apps installed on users’ personal devices. Sandboxing will stop the corporate data leak.

Secure remote connection - Any corporate resource on the corporate network should be accessed through a VPN secure connection.

Use two factor authentication - When end users want to connect to the network, they must enter their password as well as a one-time password sent to a personal mobile device.

Create awareness among remote workers - Implementing more security policies will decrease the user’s privacy. Alternatively, you should educate remote workers about the use of strong passwords, the basics of social engineering attacks, and your company’s security policies overall.

Relieve remote workers of security tasks - Enterprises should manage the endpoints and keep them secure when they're on the network and away from it. Expecting end user to connect to VPN and apply patches or security policies on their own is unrealistic. Similarly, the endpoint management and security tasks should be adequately automated to ensure your IT team is not overwhelmed by the work.

Patch your endpoints - Keep your operating systems and applications up to date to stop the exploitation of the known vulnerabilities. Patching should happen whether endpoints are connected to the network or not.

It is easy for an employee to delay or decline updating a patch, as they likely don’t fully comprehend the potential ramifications from these simple actions. This is part of the reason that 8x8, a provider of cloud communication and customer engagement solutions, automated patch management across its global workforce. An automation strategy allows remote and local endpoints to be updated, without relying on individual employees. This ensures that all endpoints, including PCs, Macs, tablets and mobile devices, remain secure and compliant.

For most organizations, remote workers are an unavoidable fact of life. The upside is employees are often happier and teams are more efficient. The downside is security is often compromised due to poorly managed endpoints. But as we’ve seen, you can mitigate threats posed by remote workers’ endpoints and significantly improve your overall network and data security with a few best practices.

About the author: Mathivanan Venkatachalam is vice president of ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corp., and has been part of the Zoho team since its inception. Prior to working with ManageEngine, he was associated with IIT Madras for their V5.2 protocol stack in layer 1 and layer 2 development.

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