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August 19th, 2020
How Firms with a Remote Workforce can Manage Common Network Security Challenges
By:-

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought a significant disruption in the way the world operates. More than 7.5 million cases have been reported all over the globe. The pandemic has impacted lives and daily living as well as the global economy in a significant way. The governments have found out only two ways to alleviate the effect of the disease – social distancing and remote working (work from home).

As the condition worsens, governments fight the outbreak by closing down schools, colleges, and restricting outdoor activities while businesses and organizations ask their employees to work remotely. However, converting homes into virtual workplaces is not that simple as it looks. Millions of those in lockdown and confined to their homes rely on their mobile and home Internet connectivity to stay connected.

Managing security is tough!

If the current scenario extends, it might lead to enterprises asking their employees to adapt to the remote working environment on a permanent basis. Telecom service providers are taking all the necessary steps for adding capacity on the wireless and wireline networks so that they can serve their customers better. They have been providing full support to those working remotely with a high-speed, resilient network that can provide the communications infrastructure to transport an enormous amount of data end-to-end. But, is that enough to carry on work smoothly for the remote workforce?

The answer is no!

Having a significant percentage of employees working remotely can pose a whole lot of challenges and threats for organizations; the biggest one being network security, such as data encryption, unsecured wireless connections, potential data loss, and cybersecurity. Working remotely- from home in most cases- can actually put businesses at risk, and the majority of them are not even aware of the risks involved in remote working.

The security risks

Authentication and authorization-

Owing to the lack of proper authentication and authorization, the network could be posed to attacks like phishing and malware as employees now receive a whole lot of emails and prompts.

More security breaches –

Most of the employees must have been using their devices for work and might introduce new operating systems and platforms that require dedicated security. These devices might have security loopholes via which breaches could happen.

Non-secure supply chain –

Much often, SMEs lack the technical know-how and a proper human resource structure through which they can implement the necessary network security measures. Hackers find this opportunity for penetrating the network.

These kinds of technical gaps in security architecture are soft targets for malicious attackers. Also, a sudden change in a working manner could lead to various noncompliances.

Managing network security – Eliminating gaps

First and foremost, business owners and enterprises need to understand the significance of having a robust remote access policy. Then, they should be able to provide professional guidance to their remote workers for making them aware of nuances related to breach in network security.

The IT department of the organization should be able to evaluate potential risks to network security and be able to mitigate them by developing customized protocols. They should be able to implement proper network security-related protocols for their remote workers.

Here are several ways following which organizations can well manage network security challenges:

Segregating professional and personal data –

In the recent past, many organizations have adopted Bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and more than 60% of employees have been continuously making use of this policy and bringing their personal devices to work. These organizations already have proper security measures to mitigate any potential threats to work-related data.

In the case of remote working, most of the workers have been making extensive use of their own devices and to protect this kind of workforce from any potential threat, the organization must adopt device management applications and create gated access to vulnerable work-related data. This way, organizations will be able to remote data locking in case of devices being lost or stolen.

Develop a secure work environment –

Many employees, while working remotely, access public Wi-Fi connections for doing their work. The public Wi-Fi networks are highly vulnerable to security breaches. To avoid security breach, organizations must ban the usage of unsecured wireless connections; use geolocation for restricting the locations from where the organization’s network can be accessed, and setup VPN connections for remote networking.

VPN connections are straightforward to handle and implement; they neither compromise employees’ privacy nor restrict their work location. A reliable VPN connection offers end-to-end data encryption and protects IP addresses. This leads to increased security on all sorts of connections and prevents the inevitable security issues

Virtual desktops –

This is one of the best ways to restrict security breaches. This way, remotely placed employees can access all the required apps and services through a virtual environment. It offers a great user experience while preventing the need to connect to the main network, even for accessing small apps.

Creating awareness among the remote workforce –

The remote network users are primarily unaware of the potential security threats their actions could pose to their organization’s network. Most of the employees get involved in risky actions like downloading personal files on their work devices, using their personal devices for work, and allowing other people to use their work computers.

Unknowingly, they create loopholes for the network breach. This simply depicts the lack of understanding of the significance of network security and the inability to implement the required security measures.

Organizations must train and educate their employees about the importance of security, the best practices, and give them access to the tools to implement security measures.

HTTPS only sites –

Organizations must allow users only to use HTTPS-only websites. They can use the “HTTPS Everywhere” extension to ensure the same.

With attentiveness and persistence, organizations can support remote working environments, which is not only the need of the hour but will also be a new normal in times to come. This will help companies realize a 35-40% increase in productivity while reducing CapEx and OpEx and motivate employees also as they will be able to maintain a work-life balance. This disruption might get an advantage in the future of the organization.

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