1. Remove the parts you cannot controlIf you cannot control a part of your process, you cannot secure it and must rely on the controlling agent to warrant its integrity. While you may not be able to remove every potential weak link in the chain, you can minimize your risk exposure by reducing your reliance on third-party cloud-based systems. On-premises alternatives remove the single external point of failure that can put your networks at risk of compromise.
2. Ensure you have secure privileged accessThere are three key points that need to be made here:
- Don’t allow for weak privilege access such as single password authentication that provides backdoors to gain system access. Instead, strong native authentication mechanisms should be enforced.
- Do not authorize system access account credentials to be registered and stored outside of your controllable realm. Allowing a third-party vendor to store credentials for your endpoints opens a prime attack vector.
- Don’t allow system access accounts to be easily shared or distributed as the sharing and distributing itself will require protection.
3. Don’t expose your data and system informationAny type of system information, as harmless as it may seem, represents intelligence data that can be used to exploit known vulnerabilities. As with privilege access accounts, do not let system information leave your premises. Allowing this information to be managed and stored by third-party vendors means you are relying on their security risk compliance policies to protect your data.
4. Stay connected to your usersBy making greater use of background endpoint management tools, you can perform scans and pre-empt any issues without involving or interrupting the user. Crucially, this also means you need to ensure that your users’ remote laptops are patched and up-to-date, which is one of the quickest ways to stop the vast majority of malware threats gaining access to your systems.
5. Audit, Audit, Audit!When it comes to your IT systems management, you must ensure that you audit every system access and operator action. Even though auditing is an after-the-fact reactive measure, it can also be pre-emptive as it enables you to prevent an error from being repeated. Additionally, it can act as an additional layer of internal security; if users/admins know they are being audited, they are less inclined to do harm.
ConclusionRemote working and the need for collaboration is not going to go away. In fact, it’s likely to increase in the coming years. The tightrope that IT departments need to walk is one of allowing users as much freedom as possible while at the same time keeping a tight rein on security. Do this and they can rest assured that even though the user is remote, no data is leaving the company premises, and they have complete management capability.