Maintaining Your Security Posture While Working Remotely
Remote work has been gaining in popularity with employees worldwide over the past several years, but now we're seeing unprecedented numbers of employees working remotely due to the unpredictable spread of COVID-19.
While advances in technology and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams make it easier for employees to carry out their day-to-day job functions, we must be cognizant of potential security threats while working remote. In this article we outline best practices to maintain a strong security posture while working from home.
1. Be on the lookout for increased phishing scams - specifically scams surrounding COVID-19.
We wrote a dedicated article on this last week, but it's worth mentioning again. Hackers have been sending out phishing emails and spoofing the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization), expecting recipients to click malicious links to learn more about the current novel coronavirus situation.
Employee awareness, education and training are critical in maintaining a strong security posture when working remote. It would be worthwhile to send out a reminder email to employees for what to look for in a phishing attempt. You can read more about the common characteristics of phishing emails here.
2. Have a dedicated workspace and work device at home, separate from personal or family use.
We strongly encourage everyone to have a dedicated device for work, separate from personal use if possible. If you must share a device with a spouse or child, be sure to create separate accounts on the device and set parameters for others' accounts, using the principle of least privilege (PoLP) to manage administrative privileges. This can help ensure a family member doesn't accidentally compromise any sensitive material.
3. Be mindful of who you let on your home network.
Keep a close eye on who you allow on your home network, as malware can jump from device to device on your WiFi, and you don't know where others' devices have been. Having a guest WiFi account for your home wireless router can help mitigate these risks.
And as always, don't use default passwords for any device, whether it's a personal computer, WiFi network, or IoT device!
4. Go back to the basics. All security best practices still apply.
While this is an unprecedented time for businesses globally, just because there's a pandemic and you're doing your job from home, doesn't mean that it's time to bend the rules and become complacent with cybersecurity best practices. In fact, now is a time where we should be even more vigilant! Don't forget all the cybersecurity training that you've received over the years - it is all still applicable while working at home.
Also, pay extra attention to authentication methods such as MFA. If prompted to approve a login, ensure that it was you that requested access.
5. Scan your home network for devices and vulnerabilities.
Just as with corporate networks, it is important to scan all of your devices for vulnerabilities and ensure that they are running the latest software. These days, it’s common for homes to have 10-20 devices, all of which could become a target and a vector to the rest of your home network. You probably have some devices that you didn’t know about and others that you didn’t realize could have vulnerabilities.
Most corporate managed devices will likely have their own update policies, but for personal home devices, it is generally safe to run updates on your other devices like home PCs & laptops, entertainment devices (DVRs, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Sticks, etc.), personal assistants (like Alexa), and printers. It is also important to update the software on your WiFi router, however, care must be taken to perform the update correctly or you could leave your home disconnected from the Internet. If you are uncomfortable performing this update, you should seek the help of a technology professional.
For those who don’t have a good grasp on what is in your house, the free Bitdefender smart home scanner is a tool that can help you find your devices and common vulnerabilities. This should NOT be installed on a corporate managed device as it could inadvertently scan your corporate network and trigger security alerts. The best choice for installation would be on a personal Windows PC that’s always at home.
6. Use OpenDNS to block malicious sites.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is like the phonebook to the Internet. It is the service that translates domain names like espn.com or cnn.com to IP addresses. These IP addresses are then used by browsers and applications to communicate. OpenDNS is a service that in addition to providing standard DNS services, blocks lookups of many sites that are known to be malicious. This is an important layer of defense against many types of attacks such as browser drive-by malware and phishing links in email. Eze Castle uses a commercial version of OpenDNS to protect our Managed Cloud Solutions.
OpenDNS is free to use at home. Installation instructions can be found here. We strongly recommend that you use the home router option. Please do not attempt to configure OpenDNS directly on devices such as phones, laptops, or PCs, as this could conflict with existing configurations.
To check your current DNS provider on any device, you can browse to: http://www.whoismydns.com/