Three strategies to defend remote workers from cyberattacks

Remote working amid the pandemic is a contributing factor to increased investments. (Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation with remote workers going from 20 percent to more than 80 percent of the employed population. In the wake of the shutdown, security attacks are on the rise as corporate networks expand from the headquarters to thousands of remote home locations. 

Insecure Wi-Fi connections, shadow IoT devices, and lax home security policies create new vulnerabilities for companies. As a result of this expanded threat surface, IT professionals fight an increasing amount of cybersecurity issues while facing a shortage of cybersecurity experts. In light of these challenges, IT and security professionals must shift to a proactive security model. Three such defenses include:   

1. Skills-training to improve enterprise cyber defenses. 

When managing a remote workforce, companies must deploy resources in a strategically sound manner, while causing as little disruption as possible. IT teams, which once had physical access to employee machines, now lack the time and accessibility to address common issues. In the absence of on-site diagnostics and to protect the network from the unknown, organizations need to increase skills training for their wider workforce. Infoblox research has found when it comes to network security, 28 percent of UK IT professionals are concerned about the lack of a skilled staff. Now that the vast majority of workers access the corporate network remotely, these skills will become a crucial component in strengthening enterprise cyber defenses.  

2. Ditch the band-aid solutions.  

To prevent further strain on corporate networks and IT professionals, many quick-fix solutions such as VPNs are installed throughout businesses. Avoid these quick fixes because they can leave users vulnerable to threats on the wider internet and are a growing target for attacks themselvesIDC reports that attacks like these have led to 95 percent of IT decision-makers deploying an SD-WAN in the next two years. The organizations that deploy SD-WAN are fundamentally looking for a simpler experience for their branch office networks. While SD-WAN has become an important part of enabling this simplicity and agility, a cloud-managed DDI (DNS, DHCP and IP) platform can extend that simplicity to the enterprise edge by allowing organizations to automatically provide and centrally manage these core network services to branch offices and edge users. These capabilities ensure reliable and secure network access while also building the right infrastructure from the start.  

3. Secure the company from the network's core.  

recent survey found that as companies go borderless, 59 percent use DDI, a set of core network services, to gain visibility and security controls that traditional security systems lost in third-party clouds. This has happened because these  services sit at the heart of the network and from that vantage point can see and flag malware and suspicious activities across the hybrid, multi-cloud infrastructure. Deployed in the cloud, these services diminish the strain on IT professionals, letting organizations scale rollout in days rather than months that traditional security solutions take.

As organizations around the world went borderless in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining business continuity and employee productivity often took priority over ensuring proper cybersecurity. Today however, more than six months after the shutdowns began, offices are beginning to recognize the importance of security as they adjust to a more permanent work-from-home model. To meet the need of this rapidly growing remote workforce, organizations must deploy the right security infrastructure. Using foundational security from DDI and shoring up security skills for IT teams proactively can help companies detect threats even as they expand their network into the cloud to support thousands of remote offices and devices.

Malcolm Murphy, technical director, EMEA, Infoblox   

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