Endpoint Security in times of remote work

Endpoint Security in times of remote work

Endpoint Security, in the time of remote work, presents an elevated risk to employers and employees

Endpoint Security, in the time of remote work, presents an elevated risk to employers and employees. Before COVID, teams in corporate offices were shielded from hackers and malicious actors with sophisticated IT network arsenals. At home, most personal wi-fi networks don't have the inbuilt protection. This makes sensitive data shared on those “endpoints” vulnerable.

Endpoint security software handles monitoring, detecting, preventing, and responding to threats to 'endpoints' or points of access like laptops, iPads, mobile devices, or desktops, connected to an enterprise network.

Companies need multifaceted and dynamic protocols when it comes to endpoint protection today. When evaluating software or identifying gaps and setting business objectives, it can be helpful to frame cybersecurity according to the following eight goals that software in this space accomplishes:

  • Detect and identify attacks with features like database auditing and vulnerability scanning to alert you to the threat landscape;
  • Gain a better understanding of your network and system’s vulnerabilities and threats through features like network security reports, allowing you to create adaptive defense strategies;
  • Improve employee workflow and reduce human error with features like employee monitoring, phishing prevention, cyber security education, password managers, and VPNs. These technologies can offer excellent protection while enforcing data security standards with flexible security administration;
  • Improve protection against security threats with anti-spyware, antivirus technology, firewalls, kernel level protection, and malware blocking;
  • Improve threat detection and response through tools such as Host Intrusion Prevention Systems (HIPS), network and system isolation, patch management tools, and scheduled scans and alerts;
  • Manage how remote users and devices access and interact with the network with access control and device permissions and suspension;
  • Prevent attacks and improve response with DDoS protection, bot protection and XSS; and
  • Secure systems and data with email security and file encryption.

Large and small security breaches affect companies of every size across every industry. Corporate data is likely to travel across the same internet router shared by home or public users who game, stream, watch the news, or use social media. These varied personal uses expose company and personal data to security threats from hackers that can exploit those endpoints.

Endpoint security solutions provide greater control over end-user devices.

Threat Background and Research

Hackers are sneaky; a popular attack vector since remote work accelerated is phishing and sending links to children on their social media platforms to gain access to their parents’ corporate data. Hackers exploit the lockdown situation further with emails posing as engineers from the office asking for passwords or telling us to log into unfamiliar systems. Companies' data is left to the subjective opinions of individual end users to know what can be trusted and what might be dangerous. This can be a nightmare for data security without the proper tooling.

Not all threats are sophisticated or prey on employees’ own experiences. An infiltrator could peer over a shoulder while typing in Starbucks - or sneak a mobile device left on the table while greeting a friend. Client devices out in the world open corporate data to hackers. And as recent reports show, hackers love targeting workers during lockdown.

Unfortunately, phishing, sneak, watering hole, social engineering attacks and more happen to companies of all sizes, including small companies.

Hackers send crafty meeting invites that, when the email is opened and the link clicked, take the user to a page that looks like a Zoom invite but actually has malicious code or credential stuffing. Hackers pose as CEOs asking to donate to their COVID charities or email us spam messages containing promises of natural coronavirus cures, fake products, and secret "virus-proofing" tips. Everything we type into these pages crawls directly to the attacker.They break into our iPhones just by sending a text - some of which you don't even have to click. And more than 30% of employee accounts have been compromised worldwide since starting remote work.

So what’s to do?

Ninety percent of data breaches come through human error. Employers are wise to invest in coaching for their employees that is engaging and educational. Employees, clever to hack tactics, are trained that the best way to protect themselves and their company is to remain alert and never let their devices out of their sight.

Companies can utilize tools and suites outside of the realm of endpoint security to best protect themselves. Password managers like Google Password Manager, One Password, or Lastpass, can help employees create and store more secure passwords; Multi-factor authentication can better protect at-risk services or accounts. ; Best of all, combining these methods can be combined with SAML or SSO providers and identity managers like OKTA, Azure and Google for greater control.

Further network security and endpoint security management systems include virus and malware protection. There are some inexpensive and secure packages such as Sophos Intercept X that tests for malware and viruses.

Although remote desktop tools are extremely useful and can be a great tool in the fight against threats, it is important to be particularly careful when using them. Many have security challenges with set up, use and implementation. Some of the best remote support tools include RemotePC, LogMeIn and TeamViewer.

The simplest and best method to protect data is to have educated and engaged employees who are motivated to protect their, and your company’s, data. Prudent employees avoid emails that come from unfamiliar or suspicious users, and are less likely to click a suspect link.. Most courses identify red flags to look for with employees such as emails and websites with misspelled words or domain names, poor grammar, mismatched URLs (which can be checked by hovering your cursor over the link), or missing vital pages. These are only some of the red flags you and your employees should be on the lookout for when opening a new or suspicious email or website . . Many cybersecurity software suites give access to these types of educational materials to help you better protect yourself and your business from malevolent actors.

Endpoint security software is a great first step to better protecting your business from cybercrime. It can help you identify and manage who is allowed on your network, where they can go, and what they can do. But it is only one piece of the puzzle. Ultimately the endpoint is only as safe as the person accessing it, which is why remote support tools, password security and storage software, and basic educational and training platforms are invaluable for 21st century businesses.

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