Many organizations are scaling their remote employee base from a small percentage to nearly 100% and relying on technology to bring workers, clients, and partners together. As they do, tech leaders urge them to put security measures in place to protect corporate information.
Video calls have been a "game changer," as have technologies such as session sharing and terminal services access, said Microsoft technology strategist Steve Ross in a panel on securing remote work. He joined Zoom CTO and CISO Gary Sorrentino, NTT Data CTO Shamlan Siddiqi, and NTT Data security offer leader Sushila Nair to discuss how companies can overcome new challenges.
"The biggest threat is companies rapidly enabling remote work and lowering security standards," Ross said. "Another big one would be corporate data [that] people are accessing on their own devices, devices that are not managed and protected according to a corporate standard."
Organizations are scrambling to secure remote staff when many haven't had time to plan for it, panelists agreed. Telling people to simply take their workstations home "might work in some cases," Ross explained, "but that almost makes me think of a scenario where an organization is lowering their security standards in order to remain effective and be able to do work."
While it's tempting to do just that, Ross noted it's important to maintain practices like security awareness training. He described one organization that had been sending fake phishing emails to employees but stopped during the pandemic because they felt people were already under a lot of stress. The problem with this decision, he explained, is that attackers aren't hitting pause.
"The people who want to compromise your systems and infiltrate your environment, lock down your data with ransomware … they're not taking the day off because of this pandemic," he said. "Now is not the time to drop your security posture — now is the time to ramp it up," he added.
One way to do this is by continuing to train employees in security practices and train support staff to help them, Sorrentino added. Employees are willing to learn and are open to doing things online. "Since people are already using videoconferencing and webinars, there is no better time to train the population on things that we understand that they need to understand," he said. Support staff can be trained to help them with things such as VPNs and multifactor authentication.
"If we could teach them the value of that in the corporate world, the value of that in the personal world just makes more sense to them," he said of enforcing good security habits.
Sorrentino was also asked about videoconferencing, which is under scrutiny as teams take their meetings online. He pointed to several Zoom controls employees can use to protect gatherings from outsiders. For starters, use a unique ID for every single meeting: "That's something we need to enforce, and we're starting to do that with the schools," he said.
He advised using a password for every meeting and making use of tools like Meeting Room, which lets a host "close the door" when all the intended participants have arrived. Locking the door ensures unwanted attendees don't drop in. Hosts can also limit controls, so the only person allowed to share content is the meeting host. The idea is to take basic commands and apply them to virtual meetings so people can meet the same way they do in person.
To plan for the future, Sorrentino advised taking a risk-based approach to security tools. "For a lot of these solutions, there's a limitation between security and functionality," he explained. Most companies will implement a one-size-fits-all solution, which may not work in today's landscape. Some employees will be working from home for longer than we think, he explained; some might do it permanently. As part of this approach, businesses should choose variable solutions based on what employees need and adjust based on scalability and functionality.
Check out the full webinar here.
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