One of the major trends in the past couple of years is that businesses have allowed employees to work from home in case of any emergency. Businesses and enterprises were forced to follow a strict WFH policy due to the global widespread of the Corona Virus pandemic in the year 2020.
At first, it was not easy for the firms to manage and for the employees to carry out their respective jobs from home. However, with time everyone had adjusted to the new norms, and WFH started to be considered a blessing. With all its perks and easements, certain risks are bound with working from home. If these risks are not identified and left unchecked, valuable resources and data can easily be lost to a cyber invasion.
Benefits of WFH for Enterprises
When the employees are happy with the working environment and their roles, the revenues of the enterprises also increase. Some other benefits enterprises gain when employees work from home are stated here.
- Reduced overhead expenses
- Turnover rates lower down
- Talent pool enhanced
- Higher productivity
Risks of WFH
The potential risk of a data breach is increased when employees work from home, as the network connections and operating systems for each user are different. Unlike in an office-based working environment. Unique risks of WFH are discussed below:
1. Larger Attack Surfaces
When every employee is working remotely, the enterprise has more endpoints and larger attack surfaces for threat actors to exploit. To secure all of these, extensive networking and software are required. This immensely increases the workload for the security teams.
2. Vulnerable Hardware
The employees working from home often use their own hardware for their tasks, but very few of them know how they can fortify their devices against malware attacks. Their Smartphones, laptops, and routers are not adequately updated and secured.
3. Phishing Attacks
Attackers orchestrate phishing scams to trick users into corrupting their operating systems and network with malware. Another reason behind such scams is to hack into the enterprise network by fooling the viewer into giving confidential information.
4. Unsecured Networks
Another risk that arises with WFH is the usage of public or vulnerable networks. Employees often use public Wi-Fi networks or their private Wi-Fi without the technical expertise to secure the network first. Viruses can easily hop from one device to the next device connected with the same Wi-Fi.
5. Cloud Misconfigurations
If the enterprise does not manage access controls or accidentally allows excessive access to the cloud networks, potential security risks skyrocket immediately.
Best WFH Practices
To avoid such risks, enterprises must follow certain best practices.
- Apply a Zero Trust model for granting access within your network. A Zero Trust framework operates on a “trust no one, verify all” principle. To implement this framework, certified Zero Trust Vendors should be consulted.
- Only certified antivirus and internet security software should be used for protection against ransomware attacks. Antivirus can protect against a wide range of cyber threats, including malware, spyware, viruses, trojans, worms, phishing scams, etc.
- Use a strong and secure VPN. Often employees have to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to work from home. Enterprises need to educate their employees on how they can make sure that their network is secure. Secondly, enterprises need to opt for possible solutions that can make their VPN more secure.
- Enterprises should provide hardware support to employees working from home. And employees need to make sure that their work data is only stored and used on work devices; personal devices must be separate from work ones.
- Confidential data and information should be shared in an encrypted form. Raw data is simply an invitation for potential attacks.
What is Zero Trust?
Zero Trust is a model, framework, or strategy designed to ensure the maximum possible security in an enterprise network. Zero Trust believes that no user, device, or application can be trusted. Instead of relying on some perimeter like a Firewall, everything must be verified before granting access every single time.
A key component of the Zero Trust framework is micro-segmentation. With its use, you can isolate workloads, establish security at a granular level, and create smaller segments of the network. Doing so effectively reduces the attack surface, and even if malicious actors penetrate the firewalls, they cannot move about freely from one segment to the next. The security teams are alerted, and the intrusion is timely confined. Additionally, micro-segmentation also allows the enterprise to keep a check for any possible inbound threats as well.
Zero Trust Security and WFH Risks
Comprehensive identity verification methods collectively form a Zero Trust framework that addresses the risks associated with WFH. Zero Trust uses client-based certificates to confirm endpoints for user authentication. Unauthorized systems are stopped from accessing enterprise resources.
Enterprises should allow connection mechanisms to perform a step-up re-authentication and re-authentication at any given time. By allowing this, enterprises will be able to respond to any anomalous behavior without help from the SOC automatically. The Zero Trust model uses centralized tools that assure improved security in access allotment and identity verification processes.
VPN connections can also be reduced by implementing the Zero Trust policy, and the costs of maintaining VPN infrastructures can be saved. The centralized approach in Zero Trust makes new onboarding easier and quicker. Similarly, changing and deleting a staff role has become very easy with Zero Trust.
Additionally, identifying connection anomalies is simple, speeding up the enterprise’s response to outbound threats. All connections are controlled from a single point streamlining the user access auditing.
Cybersecurity measures such as Zero Trust are crucial for any enterprise that uses the internet regularly. It can help avoid major attacks and vital business data.
The ability to work from home has its pros and cons. Enterprise leaders must be extremely cautious while operating their businesses remotely. They should weigh out the risks and devise working policies accordingly. The Zero Trust framework can be a perfect remedy for most of the risks associated with WFH. Additionally, the employees should be given training to ensure the best practices of WFH are followed.