- March 16, 2021
- Catagory endpoints
In the era of remote work, having a robust endpoint protection platform (EPP) in place is even more critical for maintaining network security. If you’re struggling to scale up to effectively secure each and every endpoint, you need to consider a cloud-based solution.
Even after many employees return to the office post-pandemic, a cloud-based EPP will continue to be essential for safeguarding organizations that have a great deal of remote workers because it makes it easier and more cost-effective to protect any workstation regardless of location, whether it’s desktop or laptop computer, or a smartphone or a tablet.
Prevention is just the beginning
An EPP is more than just anti-virus—it combines next-generation antivirus with more advanced security tools that leverage detection technologies such as signature matching, behavioral analytics, anomaly detection, and machine learning.
While different EPP offerings vary in features and functionality, there are a few things that should be included in any solution you may be considering. For starters, it should be able to prevent bad things from affecting your systems, such as malware and ransomware attacks, by applying behavioral analysis and machine learning to ward against file-based and fileless malware. It should also provide a great deal of endpoint control, including the ability to configure firewalls, ports, and devices.
But while prevention is table stakes in an EPP, you should be looking for more proactive capabilities if you’re to keep pace with the threats to your cybersecurity
Be more responsive
You shouldn’t just settle for comprehensive detection capabilities in an EPP. Because there are so many threat vectors to manage, you want to be able to respond automatically and effectively whenever possible.
To this end, EPP solutions are adding detection and response (EDR) capabilities so that you can detect, investigate, and remediate through automation capabilities, while also having the ability to customize the platform for your environment. Today’s EPP and EDR platforms recognize that the sheer volume of security alerts are far more than cybersecurity analysts can address without being able to automate some tasks.
Ideally, you want to streamline the number of tools implemented by your cybersecurity team—one per category is enough, although it’s fine if you want to take a best-of-breed approach rather than a single solution. However, having multiple firewall products to manage creates more problems than it solves. Open source solutions may also make sense because you can leverage the community support optimize them for more effective security. You should also keep the door open for integration with third-party solutions that add specific capabilities you need to secure your environment.
Ideally, an EPP implementation should not only improve security but also productivity of your IT staff, which is why it’s important to avoid complexity.
Simplify security with a partner
An EPP doesn’t have to be yet another costly cybersecurity implementation that must be maintained and managed. Cloud-based solutions facilitated by a managed service provider along with their team can help with detection and incident response, and even proactive activities such as hunting and penetration testing.
For smaller organizations, tapping into the expertise of a managed security services and availing itself the capabilities of a modern, cloud-based EPP can go a long way to keeping up with endpoint security requirements and mitigating the threats that come with a remote workforce.
- February 25, 2021
- Catagory Security
The ability to work anywhere was already driving cloud security trends before the pandemic hit, but remote work played a heightened role in 2020 and will continue to do so as employers maintain a hybrid approach to staffing—many will continue to work from home even once others return to the office.
That means many of the cloud security trends we’ve seen over the last year will continue for the foreseeable future, and the cloud will be part of the solution in securing proliferating endpoints.
Remote work has led to more attacks and shoring up of cloud security as endpoints proliferate. Mix in adoption of 5G networks and SD WAN, and you’ve got a recipe for even more attack surfaces that look tempting to hackers. Cybersecurity teams need see every endpoint connected to the network and how they impact cloud security as users connect to public services as well as those still run on-premises and some delivered by managed service providers.
Cloud security misconfigurations
As remote work remains a reality for many employees, it unfortunately means misconfigurations of cloud security will continue to pose a risk to the organization. Easily providing access to applications and data to many users and endpoints requires a robust security strategy that enables IT teams to see all the data traffic traversing its corporate network and across various cloud services. It’s critical that they understand who is responsible for securing what, as it can differ depending on the cloud service provider while improving identity and access management adding better cloud security controls. This should include the use of multifactor authentication to protect user credentials and help to avoid common threats such as phishing attacks.
Continued reliance on VPNs
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have always been an essential tool for enabling remote work, and they will continue to be necessary to enable employees to access the corporate network securely. Provisioning, maintaining, and securing them through robust encryption will continue to be a high priority task for cybersecurity teams as relying on consumer grade VPNs downloaded by home users for personal devices present too much risk to the organization.
Security awareness training
End user behaviour has always had an impact on cloud security, but as remote work continues, organizations must make sure they put time and resources into cybersecurity awareness training from the C-level on down. Every employee, including remote workers, must understand how data breaches and other security incidents, whether caused by threat actors or honest mistakes, can disrupt business operations and the resulting consequences.
The answer is in the cloud
As much as remote work poses a threat to cloud security, the cloud is likely to provide the solution. The traditional network perimeter has arguably been long gone for years with the rise of the cloud, distributed and global workforces, and the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend that is now par for the course.
Just as many applications and data now reside in the cloud, organizations need to transition to more security being delivered via the cloud, and that includes the securing of endpoints. Cloud-delivered endpoint protection platform (EPP) will become essential for safeguarding organizations that have a great deal of remote workers, even after many employees return to the office.
EPP will make it easier for you to protect any workstation regardless of location, whether it’s desktop or laptop computer, or a smartphone or a tablet. And while this may look like yet another time-consuming and costly cybersecurity implementation that must be undertaken, it’s something an experienced managed service provider can help you to cost-effectively deploy and manage to maintain both security and availability of applications and data as remote work continues.
- January 14, 2021
- Catagory Security
It’s still open for debate as to whether remote work is here to stay for everyone, or if a year from now everyone will back in the office. Reality is probably somewhere in between, which means IT teams must find a balance between security and keeping employees productive.
In many ways, the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated trends already in play as better connectivity and cloud computing have made it easier for workforces to be more geographically distributed. Instead of corporate satellite offices with small teams, however, we have home-based offices of one.
IT teams need to assume that there will be at least a hybrid workforce for the foreseeable future and that security for remote work will continue to be a high priority. The trick is to keep the organization secure without impeding productivity.
Hybrid workforces work odd hours
The age of remote work is more than just applying security to more endpoints accessing the corporate network. IT teams need more management tools to support remote workers while extending support hours as employees embrace less traditional schedules to accommodate their home life. Digital workers are expected to embrace “time blocking” and “time slicing” to juggle all their commitments.
IT teams will need to bolster their own remote collaboration capabilities so members can work more efficiently with each other, but also with other departments, such as human resources to onboard new staff remotely. This includes provisioning new remote workers with corporate-issued equipment or configure their personal devices.
In addition to supporting remote work, we are likely to see a move toward “hoteling,” which is when employees book an on-site work site for a few hours or a day. These facilities must also be equipped and provisioned with connectivity and hardware, as well as maintained for cleanliness.
This hybrid workforce means IT teams must rethink how they deliver service to employees and view their relationship as partnership that supports productivity for everyone—this includes delivering a high-quality user experience that helps employees work better without compromising security.
Productivity should not compromise security
The trend toward more remote was always going to have security implications.
In the early days of the pandemic, the focus was getting employees productive at home. However, the price tag appears to have been a spike in malware incidents and other poor security behaviors. According to Wandera’s Cloud Security Report 2021, 52 per cent of organizations dealt with a malware incident in 2020 compared to 37 per cent in 2019.
The rise in incidents can be attributed to a more relaxed work environment for employees, who are likely using a single device for most of their online activities—personal and professional. Employees feel free to install whatever applications they want, whether it’s their device or one issued by the company. Adopting cloud-based and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications also impact security as lines of business spin up apps for their own uses without oversight by the IT department.
Keep security simple to enable employees
As much as remote work has created new threats for security, the solutions for IT teams aren’t all that different.
Regardless of they work, security awareness training for employees continues to be a key tool for defending against threat actors. IT teams must engage regularly with users to remind them of how they should log into applications, which applications are approved by the organization, and how they should report an incident if it occurs. Employees should understand they play a role in protecting the organization and its mission-critical business information.
If IT teams are work in partnership with users to balance remote work productivity and security, simpler is better so that any solutions implemented enable a pleasant user experience. This encourages users to follow protocols rather than bypass them because they’re seen as a barrier to getting their work done.
Sanjeev Spolia is CEO of Supra ITS
- December 29, 2020
- Catagory Security
Penetration testing must be proactive, but many organizations often do theirs in response to an incident. Since the worst time to learn how to fight a fire is amid an inferno, the right security partner can help create an effective program to ensure regular testing that improves cybersecurity posture.
Before you even select a security partner for network penetration testing, you should set up guidelines for what might prompt such a test—and it’s not an emergency such as a data breach. Instead, think of milestones within the organization that might require a test of your information security. Aside from compliance obligations, common examples include a new web-based application that allow employees to access data remotely, a desktop or operating system refresh, or new network access points such as routers.
All these potentially can be misconfigured and present vulnerabilities that may not be immediately obvious to internal IT teams, who already have a lot on their plate.
Get a second security opinion
A security partner with deep and extensive penetration testing capabilities has experience that enables it to poke holes in information security and find vulnerabilities their customers won’t. It’s their business to be up to speed on the misconfigurations and current threats, including those in the latest software and hardware that might allow a threat actor to steal data or take control of a system.
An outside security partner can put together a penetration testing plan that considers your infrastructure, including new switches and servers, as well the motivations for doing the test: Is to meet compliance objectives? Satisfy a potential customer? Meet industry standards? If you’re not sure why you’re doing penetration testing but do understand it should be part of your information security program, a partner can help you understand the benefits.
Partner for the long term
Just as all penetration tests are created equal, neither are security partners who perform them, so you need clear selection criteria.
Ideally, you want partner with an organization over the long term, so you should take the time to evaluate the methods of a potential service providers, as well as the skill sets of the testers they employ. Understanding your compliance requirements to guide penetration testing is a good start, but you should work with your security partner to define your goals and make sure their capabilities are in alignment with them.
You also need to be prepared for them to find problems—set your ego aside. The whole point of penetration testing is to be able remediate problem areas and improve your overall security posture. Most of all, remember that testing shouldn’t be an occasional, scheduled, tactical activity to tick off boxes on a compliance checklist. It’s part of a broader exercise for protecting sensitive data and is a contributor to your competitive advantage—documenting and certifying your penetration testing can differentiate you in your industry and build trust and credibility with customers.
The right security partner can help you develop a penetration testing regime that’s driven by milestones in your IT environment as well as compliance requirements and critical business information that allows you to remediate threats iteratively and effectively.
- November 26, 2020
- Catagory Security
With security threats to organizations only increasing and privacy legislation continuing to evolve, penetration testing remains a critical tool for protecting sensitive data.
And as endpoints multiply thanks to an increase in remote work, there’s no airtight network perimeter, which makes it all the more difficult for organizations to safeguard sensitive data. For it to be effective, penetration testing must be done properly, and it’s more than evaluating network security. It must be viewed holistically as part of your broader information security program.
Most of all, penetration testing should be more than a box that gets ticked once or twice a year to meet compliance obligations, and it should tap the outside expertise of partner that can put your people, processes and technology through their paces.
Endpoints raise risk
With an exceptionally high number of employees working remotely, the threats posed by endpoints to sensitive data must not be underestimated, whether it’s smartphones, laptops and IoT devices, many of which reside outside the main firewall. One of the most common mistakes is assuming that spending a lot of money on software and hardware will automatically protect sensitive data, but you must also account for human behavior.
Having newer hardware with the latest operating system can mitigate risk, but even the latest greatest fleet of workstations will bring with them their own built-in vulnerabilities. These must be identified and managed based on how they are deployed and the cybersecurity awareness of the end user. This is especially true as more employees work from home—there are many ways to access data and applications that don’t involve hacking a network. All it takes is one poorly configured web portal to open access a domain to threat actors so they can take complete control infrastructure.
These same threat actors take advantage of human behavior as users fall for convincing phishing emails. They also exploit vulnerabilities in software and hardware that are often the result of a convenient feature by using botnets to scan for them even as most organizations are oblivious that they’re even at risk.
And if you think you’re not worth hacking because you’re a small organization, think again. Hackers see you as easy targets because they know you’re less likely to have the security technology, resources and best practices that larger organizations may have. The good news is that as a smaller organization you’re more nimble and agile so you can adapt and more quickly benefit from penetration testing.
Testing should be proactive
Not all penetration tests are equal, and ideally, they should be done before a breach, not after you’ve lost sensitive data.
Rather, you should identify milestones that would necessitate a test of your network security. A trigger might be a workstation refresh or major operating system update as they can often be configured in such a way that unwittingly opens door that can be entered by threat actors. And while compliance obligations should inspire penetration testing, it should be more often than an annual exercise to please regulatory bodies.
Because effective penetration testing takes a great deal of skill and expertise and can take time away from regular IT operations, tapping the expertise of an experienced service provider who can poke holes in your security and will find vulnerabilities goes a long way to protecting sensitive data. They’re up to speed on the misconfigurations and evolving threats that might let someone sneak in, as well as the common mistakes made when configuring enterprise networks and remote worker access.
If you want to truly protect sensitive data, take the results of any penetration testing seriously, even if it might reflect badly on your efforts today. You’ll be better off the in long run. Protecting sensitive data is an exercise in continuous learning that mitigates risk, and frequent penetration testing is a contributor to competitive advantage as it enables you to build trust and credibility with your customers while maintaining compliance.
Sanjeev Spolia is CEO of Supra ITS
- September 29, 2020
- Catagory Security
Many people have hit the six-month mark of remote working, while most of us are fully adapted, there also continues to be bad people around the world taking advantage of the new work-from-home reality.
For remote workers, it means to continuing to be vigilant about security as part of their daily work habits, while organizations as a whole must do their part to protect their themselves by employing cybersecurity best practices to thwart persistent threat actors.
If you’ve also experienced a security-related issue, don’t take it personally. You’re not alone. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) released a special statement warning against scammers purporting to be “official” communications. Having helped our customers for several months to facilitate remote work, we have seen an increase in security issues targeting end-users and organizations since the transition.
As always, we’re available for our customers and are support team is ready to assist with specific issues or helping with proactive configurations to help you shore up your security and optimize the remote work experience for employees.
Personal device use precautions
Ideally, remote workers should be using a company-issued workstation, but if that isn’t possible, be sure they’re taking the following steps to secure their laptop or workstation:
Ensure the PC is patched: Work through the Windows update process and install anu patches, especially if it’s been more than a month since the last update was done.
Install an anti-virus solution: Supra’s service desk can assist you in identifying and installing a software package that will meet your needs.
Lock the PC when not in use: Ideally, the workstation should be turned off when not in use, but at least lock the screen and disconnect from any VPN sessions to the corporate when not working. If the PC is shared with family members, configure a private user account protected by a username and password so that any work sensitive materials will not be shared amongst the family.
If you must use a home computer, try to separate personal use from business use and limit access to personal emails, downloading content, social media and other avenues of malware that could spread while using a personal device work purposes.
Good advice regardless of device
Whenever possible, you should use the workstation supplied to you by your office if you have one because they are typically configured with usernames and passwords, as well business-class security protection tools such as anti-virus software. Supra customers will have installed agents to assist with technical support and security monitoring.
Remote access sessions, whether it’s through a VPN or a remote desktop tool, should only be active while you are using them. If you’re stepping away from your workspace for a bit or finished remote work for the day, disconnect those tools.
As always, be wary of unsolicited emails or attachments from anyone, even if it’s from a work colleague, business associate, customer, vendor or external contact. Verify the authenticity of the communication prior to clicking on any link or opening any attachment, as email remains a popular method compromising systems.
And now for good news
Even though we’ve seen an increase cyber threats, Supra hasn’t seen any targeted attack against our customers, or our company in general. Most attacks that do happen are opportunistic and take advantage of a trusting user accessing a site or clicking on an attachment that looks legitimate, which means following best practices can go a long way to ensuring security for your organization as remote work continues to be the norm.
If you would like to explore other ways Supra can increase overall corporate security or improve collaboration amongst remote workers, get in touch and we can speak to you about the various options available.
Justin Folkerts is Supra ITS’ Chief Technology Officer