The coronavirus pandemic has forced many workers into telecommuting and the number people working from home has soared over the past two months. During this difficult time, IT security must take additional steps to protect remote employees from cybersecurity threats as cyberattacks on remote workers are increasing.

5 Steps to Take to Protect Remote Employees from Cybersecurity Threats

Businesses need to implement new measures to protect remote employees from cybersecurity threats. The number of employees now working from home makes cyberattacks on remote workers more likely. Already we have seen many campaigns targeting remote employees that aim to steal remote access credentials and infect devices with malware.

Vulnerabilities can easily be introduced when large numbers of employees work from home which can easily be exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to employees’ devices, cloud resources, and business networks. Here we provide 5 important steps to take to protect remote employees from cybersecurity threats during the coronavirus pandemic.

Use an Enterprise Grade VPN

It is important that remote workers only access work resources using a VPN; however, simply using a VPN does not make home working secure.  Consumer-grade VPNs are very different from enterprise VPNs and should not be used, but even enterprise-grade VPNs are not necessarily secure and can have vulnerabilities that can easily be exploited by cybercriminals. The UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) has warned that APT groups are conducting attacks exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities in VPN solutions from Pulse Secure, Fortinet, and Palo Alto Networks. These vulnerabilities identified from April 2019 to July 2019, yet many businesses have not applied the patches. While patching can be difficult as VPNs are often in use 24/7, it is essential that patches are applied promptly. Malicious cyber actors are targeting VPNs and attacks are likely to continue to increase with more employees working from home.

Ensure All Devices Are Patched and Updated

Before any employee is allowed to work remotely, IT security teams must ensure that their laptops are fully up to date and are running the latest versions of operating systems and software. The Coronavirus pandemic is likely to last for several months, so policies and procedures must be developed to ensure that users’ devices are kept up to date. You must also ensure that endpoint protection solutions, antivirus software, and Windows update settings are configured to update automatically.

Enhance Email Security

The majority of cyberattacks start with a phishing email so it is essential to have an advanced email security solution in place. Businesses should not rely on the protection provided by Microsoft for Office 365 for blocking phishing and malware attacks. A third-party email security solution should be layered on top of the protections provided by Microsoft for Office 365. Layered defenses are essential to protect remote employees from cybersecurity threats.

SpamTitan provides enhanced protection from phishing, spear phishing, malware, and ransomware for Office 365 accounts, complimenting and augmenting the protections provided by Microsoft. SpamTitan is cloud-based, so it can be easily applied and used to protect all email accounts, regardless of the platform you use.

Protect Against Web-Based Attacks

Email is the most likely way that cybercriminals will conduct cyberattacks on remote workers, but measures also need to be implemented to block web-based attacks such as drive-by malware downloads. CheckPoint reports there have been more than 16,000 COVID-19 and coronavirus themed domains registered since January and the number is growing at an incredible rate. These domains are 50% more likely to be malicious than other domains registered in the same period.

The easiest way to protect against web-based attacks is to use a cloud-based web filtering solution. WebTitan Cloud provides protection against web-based attacks by blocking access to malicious domains and websites that have a higher risk of hosting malware.

Provide Additional Training for Remote Employees

Research conducted by PurpleSec indicates 98% of all cyberattacks involve social engineering and Cofense research suggests more than 90% of cyberattacks start with a phishing email. It is therefore important for training to be provided to employees to help them identify social engineering and phishing attacks. Security awareness training for employees should be provided regularly and it is also useful to conduct phishing simulation exercises to identify employees that require further training. You also need to reinforce general IT cybersecurity best practices with remote workers to prevent them from engaging in risky behaviors.

Contact TitanHQ today for further information on protecting your remote employees against email- and web-based attacks.