One click is all it takes for confidential information to land in the wrong hands. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to teach preventative cybersecurity to remote workers.

PJ Kirner, CTO & Founder, Illumio

September 18, 2020

4 Min Read

Over the past few months, we've become very familiar with the many cybersecurity perils posed by a largely (or fully) remote workforce. It's clear that work-from-home (WFH) isn't going away anytime soon — and neither are bad actors.

But as the fine line between working and living from home becomes increasingly blurred, it's important to step back and recognize that with everything interconnected, one click is all it takes for confidential information to land in the wrong hands.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to teach preventative cybersecurity — in your own home, at the dinner table — and a myriad of zero-trust tools you can leverage to keep yourself and your family cyber smart and secure while we WFH and go to school from home. Like anything else, practice makes perfect — and the same is true for cybersecurity. The better you can understand and practice the cybersecurity fundamentals within your own home, the safer off you and your loved ones will be.

Why Incidental Security Matters
Let's start with the basics. Every network, at home or work, sits behind network address translation (NAT) boxes that allow us to reuse RFC1918 private address spaces all over the world due to the scarcity of IPv4 addresses. NAT, often configured on enterprise firewalls or routers, provides some incidental security. For connections that need to originate from inside the corporate enterprise, it "accidentally" shields organizations from malicious Internet traffic coming in.

At home, most folks use a router provided by their Internet service provider. The home router has a firewall and NAT functionality so your family can safely connect out to your favorite websites, and those websites can send the data you asked for back to you.

However, with most employees now working at home, enterprise-grade firewalls at the edge of corporate networks are no longer protecting them or providing the needed visibility for IT to help keep the corporate users safe. That's where having an endpoint security solution that can provide visibility, segment and limit access between different internal networks and laptop devices can come in handy.

With CISOs, government employees, and business executives sharing home networks with their 15-year-old gamers and TikTok addicts, it's imperative to extend the principles of least privilege to the systems with important data inside the home network. Meaning that even if a bad actor gains access to your kid's network, your laptop and organization's internal assets stay in the clear. When it comes to proactively protecting against cyber threats, segmentation is one of the best ways to ensure that bad actors stay contained when they breach the perimeter. Because, let's be honest, it's bound to happen. And even if you don't click on something, your child might.

Understanding Your Zero-Trust Toolbox
We already touched on segmentation as a zero-trust tool, but there are many other tools you can use at home and at work (when we get back there) to ensure that your devices, networks, and crown jewels stay safe and secure.

According to our new report, 70% of organizations use multifactor authentication (MFA), topping the list of most popular zero-trust tools. It's a straightforward deployment (one you can use on your home devices via apps like Authy or Google Authenticator) and provides a valuable additional layer of security beyond just usernames and passwords. Similarly, 69% of security professionals use single sign-on (SSO) to sign in to their devices, enabling users to sign in once with strong credentials backed by MFA.

Other tools like segmentation can help extend the principles of "least privilege" to the end of your networks and assets, making it harder for bad actors (or well-intentioned kids) to break into and compromise your corporate devices.

Another way to keep cybersecurity top of mind in your home is to hold a "Security 101" lesson over your next family dinner to teach your family how to avoid malicious sites when downloading games, music, popular apps, or the personal information that can be unwittingly shared through social networks if you're not careful about what you share and with whom you connect. Hypervigilance, communication, and effective cybersecurity tools are key when it comes to keeping your family and your crown jewels safe and secure.

All in all, it's important to remember that you don't have to boil the ocean to mitigate cyber-risk in your home — especially with the challenges and tight budgets we face in COVID-19. It's important to be focused on actionable points and specific controls you can use to keep your families and data secure, whenever and wherever possible.

About the Author(s)

PJ Kirner

CTO & Founder, Illumio

As chief technology officer and founder, PJ is responsible for Illumio's technology vision and platform architecture. PJ has 20 years of experience in engineering, with a focus on addressing the complexities of data centers. Prior to Illumio, PJ was CTO at Cymtec. He also held several roles at Juniper Networks, including distinguished engineer focused on advancing Juniper's network security and layer 4-7 services plane. PJ graduated with honors from Cornell University.

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