Over the past few years, the ability to work from home has offered employees a bevy of benefits, but it has also resulted in massive security concerns for business leaders and CTOs. When your perimeter is no longer a physical office, you might be wondering if the cloud-based collaboration tools you use to enable remote work are secure enough to fend off the hackers and bad actors who are ready to wreak havoc on your network.
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to keep your business secure no matter where your employees work, which device they use, or the collaboration platform they access.
Step One: Understand Potential Threats
The first step to preventing cyberattacks is to gain a solid understanding of the potential threats employees could face as your company embraces the use of cloud-based collaboration tools. Here is a rundown of some of the most common threats that you can educate colleagues about as a first step in securing your perimeter:
Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
DoS and DDoS attacks are emerging quickly as a serious threat, currently averaging $2 million per attack, according to cybersecurity company Kaspersky. In a DoS or a DDoS attack — the latter of which involves attacks from multiple sources — bad actors flood a target with unwanted traffic with the goal of disrupting service or crashing their system. According to Cisco, DDoS attacks have become more prevalent in the last few years, with the number of attacks expected to reach 15 million by 2023.
Phishing is one of the most common types of cyber attacks, which involves a bad actor actually “fishing around” for access to sensitive information or secure websites. Frequently, an attacker will send emails that appear to be coming from a trusted company or contact, but in reality, it’s a scam.
Phishing attacks usually consist of tricking you into clicking on a link that downloads viruses directly onto your computer, or even worse, leading you to share private information that could threaten your identity, reveal confidential work information and passwords, or compromise your bank account.
Malware is a term for the many different types of harmful or malicious software that can negatively change the functionality of a computer, such as destroying data or stealing private information or passwords. It’s important to remember that malware can spread from computer to computer via a shared network.
Employee negligence and user error account for an estimated 62% of insider breaches. Lack of cybersecurity training and general negligence can have a major negative impact on the overall security of an organization’s network. For example, just one unfortunate click on a link sent from a bad actor could cause serious harm company-wide, such as extreme data loss or the spread of a virus across multiple devices.
Step Two: Assess Your Company’s Security Status
Now that you have a general idea of the threats you could face, it’s time to gain an accurate look at where you are on your security journey to help you identify your next steps forward. A great way to assess your company’s security status is to evaluate the security of your people, their devices, and the software they use.
The best place to start to look for opportunities for improvement is with your greatest assets — your people. There are many areas to assess, including passwords, access policies, and security training.
First, it is critical to ensure your organization’s passwords are strong enough to protect against attacks, unique enough to detract the bad guys, and shared only with those that need them. Depending on your company’s needs, you may want to explore multi-factor authentication technology or adopt password management software.
Next, take a look at your privilege policies. Access rights can expand over time as employees share credentials and move on to other positions and new employees take their place. It’s important to establish security controls that ensure your staff has access to only the workspaces and platforms they need.
Lastly, while having a plan for passwords and privileged access is important, the greatest opportunity for keeping security threats at bay is to ensure your employees are sufficiently trained on the best practices for keeping the company’s networks safe at all times. In fact, as much as 75% of the workforce may not have any guidance concerning best practices with their collaboration platform — and this can have a huge impact on how well your company can fend off cyber threats.
In today’s new flexible working environment, employees may be utilizing collaboration tools across both personal and corporate devices, depending on when and where they choose to work on any given day.
On corporate devices, encrypting data, updating operating systems, installing endpoint protection, and maintaining patching need to be part of a constant, vigilant process. Don’t forget to review your device monitoring processes to ensure they are effectively identifying suspicious activity.
Personal devices are a little more tricky and should be a big area of focus as you work to maintain a secure perimeter. If employees are accessing your network via their own devices, it is important to determine your risk tolerance and keep close tabs on what they can access and what credentials are used.
Any cloud-based workplace collaboration platform brings third-party risk. Each platform is different, and it is imperative to evaluate yours often to ensure its security capabilities meet your expectations. Beyond your overall collaboration platform, make sure you are also looking at all of the platforms your employees use, including any potential unauthorized apps that may not be part of your approved suite of tools.
Step Three: Take Advantage of Your Collaboration Tool’s Own Checks and Balances
While many organizations look to third-party security solutions to aid in their efforts to root out potential security threats, there could be some great security tools right under your nose. Many collaboration platforms offer their own security offerings that can make monitoring and analyzing your security status simple and seamless. For instance, Google Workspace, a leader in enterprise collaboration security, has developed several new security-focused applications dedicated to data loss prevention, phishing and malware protection, and the creation of drive-sharing permissions.
Step Four: Consider a Zero-Trust Security Model
Companies are adopting zero-trust security models, also known as context-aware access, at a rapid pace. According to a 2021 Statista survey of cybersecurity professionals, approximately 72% of respondents have either already adopted a zero-trust security model or have plans to adopt one in the future.
No matter where employees are working, zero-trust models protect your company’s data based on granular access control policies where users are challenged as applications are accessed and actions are taken within those applications. These extra layers of security are very effective in protecting a company’s perimeter and also present many benefits from a user experience perspective, too. Rather than forcing users onto a company network, zero-trust models secure whatever internet being used to access company assets.
Address Security Concerns and Rest Easier
As hybrid work environments continue to increase, one thing is certain: securing your company’s network, systems and private data is an absolute must. As you embark on your security journey and navigate the new landscape of employees having the ability to work remotely across varying types of devices, apps and locations, developing a robust security plan is key to fending off the bad actors and security threats out there — and will also help you sleep better at night.
Interested in learning more about ensuring your networks are secure in a remote work environment? Read our white paper “How to Address Enterprise Collaboration Security Concerns” for an in-depth look at everything you need to know about upping your security game and defending your organization’s network against cyberattacks.
If you’d like to further explore enhanced security solutions for your business, Maven Wave can help. Contact us to get started building an effective security strategy to meet your organization’s needs.
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