Network security during the “New Norm.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started dominating the headlines in March, social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have become the new normal as state governments try to “flatten the curve” and protect citizens’ health and safety. While many essential businesses (such as hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations) remained open, other businesses deemed “non-essential” or “life-sustaining” were shut down temporarily and required to stop in-person operations. As many brick-and-mortar establishments were forced to shift their operations or shut down entirely for a few months, the road to normalcy is going to be a long and potentially difficult one.
All 50 states have begun to reopen in phases since the country went into lockdown. A state is categorized as “reopening” when its stay-at-home orders are scaled back, or once businesses, such as retail stores, restaurants, and personal care businesses are permitted to reopen. As such, businesses will need to do their due diligence and monitor changes to ensure successful reopening. For many businesses, however, the focus will be on protecting their employees and customers by having sanitization stations, enhanced cleaning schedules, and desk configurations all of which will be part of the new normal.
Risks and Challenges of Remote Working
As employers made the decision to have employees work from home, the safety of their people was top-of-mind. The sheer speed and scale in which businesses shifted to a remote working model came too swiftly and with little or no preparation. This left IT teams with little time to prepare for the network security challenges that come with remote working.
Normally organizations would have time to plan and implement it, but what we’re experiencing is unplanned, rapid, and forceful. With employees telecommuting, business networks have been exposed to unsanctioned devices and untrusted networks, exposing numerous access points for hackers to exploit. Cybercriminals have capitalized on global uncertainty and unpreparedness faced by organizations, which may explain why the number of cyberattacks is much greater than usual.
Catching Up to the New Reality
The term new normal has different meanings for different people. For some, it’s about returning to the office with a few tweaks, while others think that remote working is here to stay. The reality is somewhere in between. Many companies are planning to transition some of their employees to work remotely even after this crisis becomes a thing of the past. Even as the economy reopens, all companies, including those that won’t consider telecommuting, will still have to rethink office space configuration. Social distancing will have to be observed in the office so workers may have altering day and/or night shifts. With time, companies will get a better awareness of the huge advantages of smart working.
Faced with a future in which a new hybrid home and office working model is the new norm, there’s a need for IT security teams to revamp how they approach endpoint security. Advanced endpoint security should be deployed to ensure information security no matter the connection point. This involves more effective web and email security, rolling out more robust authentication for remote access, dealing with a backlog of patches, and checking cloud security configurations. This entails getting organizations onto a stable model for the future.
Everyone in the organization needs to be on the frontline of your business’ cybersecurity measures. Organizations need to conduct remote work assessments and provide network security awareness training to their employees to ensure they know good security habits. Training should include how to securely access business files using a VPN and two-factor authentication. Training can also help employees identify social engineering scams before they infiltrate your systems. This is especially important because of the massive increase in phishing scams and the use of unreliable home internet and personal devices.
The Bottom Line
As we continue witnessing a dramatic restructuring of social and economic order, the reality of the new normal will mean having a percentage of your employees working remotely a lot more often, at least for the near term.
Contact SCA for Network Security and Information Security Assessment and Compliance Services
The coming weeks and months may bring more uncertainty, but with the help of a high-skilled security team at Security Compliance Associates (SCA), you can remove some uncertainly, enhance network security and maintain business continuity. We’ll start by conducting vulnerability assessment and risk assessment to identify weak points in your network and cyber risks to the organization that require corrective action. This will also help us identify solutions that will ensure your remote employees are working safely.
Contact us at 727-571-1141 to schedule a complimentary consultation and download our breach response guide to learn more.