Vaccines are ramping up, and there’s a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. While remote work dominated 2020, a hybrid environment is the expected trend for 2021. With a revolving door from the office to employees’ homes, coffee shops, vacation destinations, etc., enforcing reentry procedures is critical. Of course, COVID-19 restrictions must be observed for the health and safety of everyone, but your data is also vulnerable to attack.
Ransomware and phishing scams continue to increase in frequency and impact as hackers relentlessly prey on the vulnerabilities of remote endpoints. Bad actors are ready to pounce on new opportunities presented by dueling work environments, and businesses must be proactive. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) need to educate customers on potential risks, consequences, and solutions to strengthen a multi-layer security infrastructure.
1. Install endpoint BDR on all devices.
It’s absolutely critical for backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity that devices are equipped with comprehensive endpoint protection. Unlike at the office, where corporate firewalls and dedicated, local backup and disaster recovery (BDR) provide optimal security and backup conditions – remote environments rely on much less sophisticated infrastructure. Furthermore, work from anywhere severely limits the feasibility and protection of traditional appliance-based BDR.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an important piece of the multi-layer protection you want between bad actors and business data. To gain entry to protected areas – such as applications, online accounts, or VPNs – users must enter one or more additional verification factors. Typically you receive a uniquely generated code on your phone or tablet to confirm your identity beyond just a username and password. MFA is an additional lock on your systems. It’s the deadbolt on your front door. Sure, it’s easy to enable and use, but it provides a lot of protection.
3. Turn off automatic Wi-Fi connections and create a process to rejoin.
When devices return to the office, they need a thorough security scan to prevent the possibility of exposing the corporate network. Devices that use free public Wi-Fi connections are vulnerable to attack due to inefficient encryption standards. With employees working remotely, you can’t be sure they’ve never connected to a public network. There’s also no guarantee that if you do have a VPN, it’s being used exclusively. Establish clearing protocols to make sure bad actors aren’t hiding in the shadows, and backup solutions are healthy. Only after gaining approval should devices be able to rejoin the onsite network via the new password.
4. Disinfect and distance
An open office in 2021 requires an ample supply of antibacterial gel, wipes, and hand soap. Employees should disinfect their devices and workstations when they arrive and before they leave each day. Depending on the size and set up of the office, communal areas like kitchens, conference rooms, and open concept desks should be adjusted to respect the six-foot social distancing requirement. Display signs to remind everyone of office policies and restate them regularly to foster adoption.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to recommend that everyone wear a mask inside. Stay up to date on CDC guidance, including for vaccinated individuals, and adjust in office policies accordingly. Promote an environment where employees feel safe, heard, and protected. Businesses should be flexible and supportive of everyone’s comfort level and responsibilities at home, which can change rapidly throughout the transition. Between remote learning for children, potential virus exposure, the virus itself, and responsibilities to loved ones – the old 9 to 5 work day has been disrupted.
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