Foundations of a NextGen WFH Strategy

March 17, 2020 marked the end of the work environment as we knew it.  March 18, 2020 kicked off the race to the basics.  Those 24 hours taught most IT and security teams to expect the unexpected, the importance of being dynamic and how unprepared they were.  Organizations were without laptops, software licenses, and access to critical business applications while also being forced to use new tools. 

Now seven months later with the basics (hopefully) covered, and long-term remote work expected, we’re here to help creating a sustainable security strategy by sharing… 

  • The Three Factors Influencing Our New World and Security Strategy
  • The Five Foundations for a NextGen Work from Home Strategy

The Three Factors Influencing Our New World

Before we jump into the foundations, let’s look at the factors influencing the need for a stronger security posture in our new world of remote work.

  • No physical offices.  The concept of a perimeter has dissolved and the way we communicate has changed.  Now, everything has been brough online.  Losing the security net of a perimeter, paired with an increase of activity online, is a hacker’s dream.   
  • End user importance.  End users no longer have the stability of an office setting, nor do they have the security blanket that comes with an office.  This makes them a prime target for hackers, as seen by the 600% increase in phishing attacks in March 2020 alone. 
  • Access is key.  It’s all about the right information at the right time from the right application for the right employee.  Appropriate controls are essential to ensure security of sensitive information.

The Foundations for a NextGen Work from Home Strategy

Five components. That’s the secret to a comprehensive work from home strategy.  At the end of the day, it’s these components that will allow for a secure, consistent and efficient environment. 

Identity.  This is the process of assessing who a person is and their needed level of access to applications and data respective to their role.  ‘Joiners, movers and leavers’ are prime examples of the need for an access program. If an employee moves from finance to HR, do they still have access to finance applications and data? If so, why? 

On top of that, compromised credentials still used in 81% of hacking-related breaches.  If credentials are stolen, can the hacker easily jump between all HR and finance data? Additionally, will any auditing systems flag this kind of activity as suspicious?  

What can you doAn Identity Access Management program (not project) is an organizational-wide approach to controlling access and mitigating risk.  

Communication. Did you know that 94% of advanced threats still come through email?  Basic communication has changed. The security of a perimeter has dissolved.  Attackers are taking note. The astronomical uptick in phishing and end user targeted attacks means that employees can be one of two things – your weakest link or your first line of defense.  How do you build up that front-line defense? End user awareness training. 

What can you doImplement a proper training program with real-life simulations to get them up to speed. KnowBe4’s training program incorporates training modules with real-time simulations to educate all end users on how unsuspecting malicious emails can look. 

Device. 70% of breaches originate on the endpoint.  Therefore, unsupported devices aren’t going to cut it.  Device compliance is nothing new, but is still just as important as identity access. When it comes to assessing your device compliance posture, can you answer the following questions: Can you detect anomalous behaviors on your endpoints and remediate?  Do you have a BYOD policy and how do you manage it?

During this work from home period, are employee’s using personal computers and devices to do business? It’s important to have policies and a plan in place if this occurs.  

What can you doAssess your device strategy and implement a AI based NextGen Endpoint Protection tool. Due to the ever-changing threat landscape, remember to regularly review your endpoint approach to ensure you’re covered against the latest threats. 

Infrastructure.  The shape of infrastructure has greatly evolved over the years, shifting from on-prem to cloud.  Now, working from home has accelerated the pace.  With 94% of companies in the cloud and 64% of them utilizing hybrid environments, “cloud” may mean something a little different to each organization.  Before proactively protecting the infrastructure, you need to understand: Where are you in your cloud journey? Or do you know if you are even in the cloud? Do you have consistent policies and an efficient user experience? 

What can you doIdentify existing cloud applications to enable and accelerate cloud strategy.  Keep in mind, that when transitioning to the cloud, you can repurpose resources/budget from other infrastructure setups, like VPNs, to support the cloud journey. 

Visibility. Visibility is not just a foundational element for a work from home strategy, but an umbrella for the other four components.  You need to complete visibility across all areas of your business to ensure there are no blind spots.  A staggering 71% of devices run unsupported Windows operating systems.  Do you have the capabilities to see and correct that gap? Additionally, 17% of an organization’s data is accessible to every employee. 

To know if you have proper visibility today ask yourself: Do you know who and what is connected to your network? Where are your blind spots in your environment? What is your visibility level into company data? 

What can you do: Perform a full visibility assessment.  Complete visibility into all your devices, users, data and where everything goes has never been more critical than during this work from home period. 

There you have it.  The five foundational elements to a NextGen work from home security strategy. To recap your next steps: 

  1. Build/review an identity access program
  2. Create user awareness training initiative
  3. Establish the proper endpoint strategy
  4. Identify cloud applications and establish appropriate cloud strategy
  5. Perform a visibility assessment

Though the foundational elements are the same, each organization is different and may have more or less complexity to its environment end work from home strategy.  Brite is here to help you each step of the way, no matter how complex or what the size of your organization is.  From our world class managed service  to our advanced security tool partnerships and implantation services, Brite has you covered.  

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