6 Ways to Secure Remote Work

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Author: Kayla Myrhow, product marketing manager, WatchGuard Technologies

For a managed service provider (MSP), it’s evident that cybersecurity threats change when organizations have employees who work remotely. Convincing companies to secure their remote workers can be challenging. Remote work also forces employees to adopt a broader set of tools, which increases the potential attack surface for hackers to exploit.

Below are six essential steps MSPs can implement in their suite of services to ensure remote work is secure. 

There are obvious ways to stay secure when working remotely. Avoiding public Wi-Fi, regularly changing passwords, and using encrypted devices all assist in preventing threats. However, this may not be obvious for everyone. Here are critical but not-so-obvious steps to take to ensure everyone who is working remotely is securely maintaining productivity.

1. Formalizing Working from Home, Telework, and Remote Work Policies

Whether a company is entirely remote or has a hybrid work environment, securing remote work should be a priority for every organization. Upwork reported that a majority of companies will continue to embrace remote teamsyet 57% lack a remote work policy. Here are some must-haves when creating a remote work policy: 

Create a security assessment survey for remote workers that includes foundational questions around their remote working environment: 

  • Who is their ISP?
  • Do they have a secure router or firewall?
  • Do they use multi-factor authentication (MFA)?
  • Does the remote worker use a password manager?
  • Do they have any IoT devices connected to the network? 
  • Do they work/connect their devices anywhere other than their home network?
  • Do they have a guest Wi-Fi network set up?

Organizations can strengthen their protection and offer centralized security solutions based on the risk levels of their remote workforce. Identifying the risks in a security assessment survey will benefit any IT team or MSP who is building a remote work policy. 

2. Offer Training

Security awareness training is essential for all employees, not just remote workers, to understand the vulnerabilities and malicious threats they are susceptible to. Additionally, everyone needs to be aware of the impact of their behavior to mitigate risk and ensure compliance.

3. Zero-Touch Deployment of Secure Wi-Fi Access Points for Remote Workers

Device provisioning is a key issue for MSPs who want to deliver a secure, modernized network for remote workers. Deploying a zero-touch network means that devices can be deployed with settings, configurations, and applications automatically provisioned or managed without an IT manager or MSP stepping foot into a remote worker’s home. We highly encourage MSPs to also take a unified approach to deliver Wi-Fi connectivity and security. With centralized management and a unified security platform, MSPs can provide cross-platform integration and centralized management of wireless products, dramatically simplifying how partners purchase, deploy and manage Wi-Fi networks for remote workers.

4. Require MFA as a Step Towards Zero Trust

As a part of a zero-trust security model, MFA is a crucial component to deliver a layer of security across users’ devices, networks, and applications. In 2021, President Biden published an executive order targeted at improved cybersecurity in the US. Implementing MFA significantly reduces the organization’s attack surface by granting the minimum access needed to execute the task at hand, decreasing opportunities for breaches.

5. Require VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) enables users to create a secure connection to another network via an encrypted Internet connection. Everyone should use a VPN in both their personal and professional life. From high tech to an average user, the benefits are nearly endless. 

Over time, VPN support has become standardized and supported by most operating systems with rich integration to make it easier for the end user to turn on, manage, and maintain security. Bypassing geographic restrictions for streaming audio and video used to be the primary use case of a VPN. Additionally, corporate VPNs ensure that remote workers can connect to the organization’s network, access sensitive data, and keep confidential data secure. 

VPNs are not immune to security attacks, though. Free VPNs are especially susceptible to hacks and malware. VPN connections could be a new technology to many employees and remote workers and provide an opportunity for errors in setup. 

To mitigate risk, ensure the VPN of choice is reliable and policies are in place for the end user to ensure adequate data encryption is in place before it’s too late. 

6. Unify Approach and Consolidate Vendors’ Security Services to Maximize Security Offerings

In addition to the complexity of achieving a secure remote connection, there is the challenge of using a variety of security vendors, which is a considerable obstacle to effectively delivering security services and mitigating risk. Currently, 96% of MSPs surveyed by Pulse and WatchGuard acknowledge that using different interfaces to manage cybersecurity reduces productivity. They plan to consolidate vendors for IT products and services in 2022 to help deliver a variety of best-in-class as-a-service offerings, lower their overhead costs, and provide simplified security, all from a centralized management experience for the MSP. 

Guest blog courtesy of WatchGuard Technologies. Author KaylaMyrhow is product marketing manager at WatchGuard Technologies. Read more WatchGuard guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program.

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