Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, a study from CyberEdge showed that only 24% of employees worked from home. After the pandemic, organizations were forced to stay productive with an at-home workforce, the same study found that over 50% of employees now work at their homes using their own devices. While an at-home workforce keeps organizations productive, the impact to cybersecurity is still a struggle for IT staff who must still maintain water tight security against numerous threats that target their data.
Lockdowns due to the pandemic seemingly happened overnight, so the rush to provide employees with a workable environment wasn’t thoroughly planned. Rushed resource design and corporate access often lead to oversights to cybersecurity. Not only must work-from-home infrastructure be deployed securely, but threats targeting at-home employees increased. Phishing, malware, ransomware, and other cyber-threats increased after lockdowns and a shift to home offices.
CyberEdge’s study polled 600 IT security professionals and found that the biggest concerns for cybersecurity included the increased threats seen in the wild, insufficient remote access security (e.g. reliable and compliant VPN), and unmanaged devices with access to corporate files. Not only did IT staff indicate that these threats were challenging, but the increase in third-party risks added to their security overhead.
IT operations staff are considered essential for organizations, but rotations in staff and limited resources added fuel to the fire. Instead of having a full team available on-site, businesses are forced to limit team interaction and reduce office time for their IT staff as well as other employees. Without full-time IT staff, incident response and management are no longer as efficient as they were prior to lockdowns.
The cloud facilitates many of the infrastructure provisioning necessary for an at-home workforce. The cloud can be integrated into an existing on-premise network or resources created specifically for home users. For instance, applications can run in the cloud at a specific data center giving employees access to fast and reliable tools that keep them productive.
Although the cloud makes it easy to provision resources, it still requires proper configurations. Incorrect configurations are a primary mistake made by inexperienced IT staff that expose sensitive data. It’s such a common mistake that attackers have scanners to find publicly available AWS S3 buckets, which is Amazon’s cloud storage resource. Cloud resources help with at-home employee productivity, but it adds a new challenge to IT operations.
Cloud resources require their own overhead and staff training. They’re marketed as an easy fix to corporations that need infrastructure available to work-from-home employees, but without training IT staff can easily make a mistake that can lead to a severe data breach. Even with cloud resources, IT still must find ways to properly secure files, user accounts, data, and networking hardware.
The solution is to carefully provision cloud resources with proper security access, controls, and anti-malware support. This includes anti-phishing technology that stops many of the most prevalent attacks. Attackers know that employees are more vulnerable to phishing at home, because they don’t have access to the corporate anti-phishing software common in large enterprise environments.
Training also helps reduce risks. Numerous online training courses were developed to compensate for on-site training reduction. IT staff can be trained to properly provision, manage, and secure cloud resources. In addition to training, resources can be provisioned in a testing environment so that staff can determine the right configurations before deploying to production.
A Managed Service Provider (MSP) can also help alleviate much of the concern and hurdles when provisioning new cloud equipment. Even with MSP help, the corporation still must have the security protocols in place to stop the most common threats in the wild. An MSP can assist in provisioning and provide a roadmap for proper cybersecurity protection.
Finally, security user BYOD equipment is essential for good corporate security. Users should be compelled to install anti-malware on their devices and use company-supplied email servers with anti-phishing technology installed. Many of the world’s biggest data breaches including ransomware attacks start with phishing. Using anti-phishing technology, an organization can greatly reduce risks of being the next corporate victim of cyber-criminals.
With the right security tools in place, organizations can run smoothly and stay productive even with a reduced on-site workforce. The cloud can be a huge benefit, but using the right security resources is just as necessary as finding the right solutions for remote IT access.
Working with cloud infrastructure doesn’t mean your organization must be lax on cybersecurity. The right resources, monitoring, and detection can be used to stop common cybersecurity attacks including the increase in phishing due to the pandemic lockdown. IT staff can implement these cybersecurity techniques without affecting user productivity, and the organization can operate safely while protecting corporate data.
If you're worried about protecting remote workers from phishing, zero-day attacks, malware and dangerous websites then this webinar will be a very useful listen. Our experts discuss why it’s vital to protect against the email and web component of cyberattacks - to help you meet the challenge of protecting a fully distributed workforce.
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