Preparing Your Organization for the Coronavirus Challenge
Up until now, remote work programs made up a small part of the work force for most organizations. It made perfect sense for some positions such as sales people, project managers or specialized tech support.
Some companies allowed employees to work from home one day a week as a perk or incentive to improve company retention rates. For most companies, remote work took place on a small scale.
Then came the Coronavirus.
It is a different world then it was three months ago.
An increasing number of companies are implementing work-from-home strategies in an attempt to keep their employees safe. The problem is that while companies are looking out for their employees to protect them from exposure to the virus outbreak, they may be opening up their networks and digital resources to another type of malicious virus.
Companies are sending their employees and their enterprise devices away from the secure confines of the network perimeter in droves. For many of these users, it will be their first time working remotely on a full-time basis. If your company has or is considering the initiation of a work-from-home program, you must consider the following challenges.
- Your employees work in isolation without face-to-face interaction with their peers and superiors
- Users will be working with company data within insecure environments
- Every user account that is allotted remote access opens up one more point of vulnerability.
- Working from home may make users less vigilant when it comes to cyber hygiene
- Domain-joined machines cannot be policy updated when off premise for long periods
Hackers Take Advantage of Coronavirus
To compound this situation, hackers are doing what they do so well, tapping into the fear and anxiety of so many during this difficult period. Coronavirus-themed domain registrations are 50 percent more likely to be from malicious actors according to CheckPoint Software. Cybersecurity researchers have identified several fake COVID-19 tracker maps that infect people’s computers with malware when opened. Soon, your user inboxes will be flooded with clever phishing attacks concerning Coronavirus alerts or Coronavirus tax refunds.
Coronavirus does not Exempt Compliancy
Just because your computers have moved off-premise does not mean you are exempt from compliances such as HIPAA and GDPR. Organizations that fall under compliance jurisdictions will be held accountable for their obligatory duty of care when it comes to securing the personal data of their employees, customers and third party individuals. Yes, there is no free pass for compliancy and cybersecurity.
Here are PolicyPak, we have prepared a very brief preparatory guide to help you through this challenging time.
Connecting your Users to the Enterprise
The first task is giving your users a desktop to work from. Years ago, companies may have considered allowing users to simply RDP directly into their desktops. This is a very bad idea as hackers can easily probe open RDP connections. Most companies will require users to use a company device and use a VPN connection. Here are some considerations.
- Make sure you have a separate zone on your firewall for VPN that is secured by policies. Such policies should restrict the access of remote devices to designated areas. Make sure that all traffic flowing through this zone is scrubbed with the firewall’s AV engines and monitored by its internal ISP.
- Don’t depend on your users to manually make their VPN connections. Configure the VPN client to connect automatically.
- Most enterprise VPN solutions today offer MFA and internet gateway features. Make sure you enable both of these. The gateway setting will force all local internet traffic through the VPN to take advantage of on premise filtering.
- Most enterprise VPN solutions have a gateway setting to force all local internet traffic through the VPN. Enable this to ensure that local web traffic is going through the corporate Internet and firewall filtering. WVD will save a lot of headaches outlined in the next section.
Another option is Windows Virtual Desktop which is an Azure based desktop and app virtualization service. This cloud based VDI solution allows for multi-session Windows 10 usage and is optimized for Office 365 ProPlus. With WVD, you can deploy and scale Windows desktops and apps on Azure in minutes. We have a complete step-by-step guide on how to implement it and a bunch of videos showing how PolicyPak integrates with Windows Virtual Desktops.
Training and Communication
If you are like many companies that have been putting off your broad based cyber security training for “someday,” well, “someday” is today. Don’t leave users to fend on their own.
- Users are going to be alone out there. You need a way for them to easily reach out for security concerns and questions. Consider creating an easy to remember email such as [email protected] or [email protected] that users can easily contact internal IT at all times. Be sure that IT personnel monitors this email during regular hours.
- Consider sending out daily email reminders and short videos that teach employees how to detect and handle phishing and other forms of social engineering attacks.
- Iterate to them that it’s OKAY to ask questions when they see something suspicious. They are your best eyes and ears.
Remote Work Guidelines
Here is a list of procedures you should communicate and enforce for all remote workers.
- Do not allow sharing of work computers and other devices. Family members should be prohibited from accessing any work computing device.
- Restrict the number of people authorized to conduct new overseas wire transfers and new payment requests. Create a policy that requires employees to confirm these types of requests and verify their authenticity as face-to-face interaction is not available.
- Prohibit employees from downloading or saving company information to personal computing or storage devices as well as personal cloud storage services. You can create policies through Group Policy, MDM solutions or PolicyPak Admin Template Manager to enforce this.
- Remind employees to log out of their computers whenever they are not in use while at home. This may seem obvious at work, but users may feel more relaxed when outside of the office for an elongated period.
- Instruct employees to notify the proper personnel in the event that their enterprise device is lost or stolen. Immediately document the event in case regulators become involved and employ any remote wipe or reset capabilities you have.
Securing and Protecting Your Desktops While Off Premise
And then there are so many other things you need to do.
- Ensuring that all computers leaving the perimeter are encrypted
- Ensure that all computers continue to receive their regular patches and updates
- Ensure that users don’t inadvertently click on unknown malware
- Ensuring that users can access what they need without admin privileges
- Ensure that all cloud applications operate optimally
- Ensure that cloud applications and mission critical websites work optimally
When computers are off premise for elongated periods, there isn’t a traditional “go-to” way to manage all of these issues. Group Policy requires a network connection while MDM doesn’t come close to offering the coverage you need to fully manage enrolled machines.
This is when you need another way, a better way, and that is where PolicyPak comes to the rescue.
With PolicyPak Group Policy Edition, you’ve got what you need with a VPN connection. With PolicyPak MDM we work alongside Intune and other MDM services. With PolicyPak Cloud, we talk directly to your dekstops.
Read out other blog to see how you can fully manage user desktops, now matter where they are or what their joined status is.