The number of remote workers has increased drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to recent research, 26% of employees in the U.S. work remotely, as of 2022. An estimated 36.2 million employees in the U.S. will work remotely by 2025. This, however, has raised more concerns about remote access to corporate data. IBM indicated that remote work has increased the average cost of data breaches by $137,000 in comparison to 2021.
Connecting corporate devices such as laptops to unsecured public WiFi networks (e.g., at a cafe or airport) can expose employees to potential security risks. Hackers can exploit weak networks and distribute malware, and can steal users' confidential data such as work emails, credit card information, and company accounts and passwords. Besides, when susceptible to phishing or cyber attacks, employees working away from the office may not be able to report them to their companies' IT departments timely.
IT admins are also concerned about the physical safety of corporate devices. Statistics have shown that the number of corporate devices reported as stolen increased as the number of remote employees increased. This puts corporate data at risk.
Connecting to the home WiFi network may be safer. But if a device (e.g., an employee's personal device or their roommate's device) in the same network is hacked, it will potentially cause your corporate devices a great deal of harm.
Tips to Protect Remote Access
A virtual private network (VPN) establishes a private network connection across a public network to encrypt users’ internet traffic. It is ideal for those who need to frequently access their corporate network remotely.
One-Click VPN allows users to access their corporate VPNs easily, safely, and quickly. Considering the evolving risks associated with remote access, setting up MFA to add an extra layer of protection to your VPN is also critical.
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) enhances your organization's security by requiring users to present at least two factors that prove their identity. Enforce MFA authentication for all employees, no matter where they are. Remote workers with access to sensitive corporate data should be required to use stronger factors, such as WebAuthn (FIDO2.0) and factor sequence.
Create Granular Security Policies
Limiting the privileges of your employees is one of the most important ways to minimize security risks. Before creating granular access policies, you need to know who has the right to access which resources, divide the users into different categories based on their roles, and then assign them to different groups and security policies. Here is an example of the user categories:
- IT and security staff
- C-level executives
- Employees who have access to important and sensitive corporate data
- Other full-time employees
- Visitors, temporary workers, and cleaners
You must also configure context-based access policies that can flexibly adapt to a variety of factors, including network, device platform, client, behavior, authenticator, IdP, and risk scoring. If a user's login environment does not satisfy the context of security policies, their access will be automatically denied, or they will be prompted for MFA. To enforce VPN connection for employees needing to remotely access certain applications, you can create allowed network zones and assign app sign-on policies.
Implement Security Awareness Training
Human error is proven to be one of the biggest security threats to businesses. Even if your employees are given the right tools and security software, they and your business
may still be victims of cyberattacks if security training is not conducted and security awareness is not established. Implementing regular security training prepares your employees for cyber threats.