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How insider threats and the dark web increase remote work risks for organizations

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By Veriato

The “Dark Web” is often portrayed as a gloomy realm of internet land where you can find criminals and offenders lurking around every corner. Though there is some truth to this perception, there are also many misconceptions about the Dark Web and its role in the security or insecurity of businesses. Furthermore, the continuous embracement of remote work has led to an unexpected shift in the way the dark web is being used today. Without awareness and understanding of these concepts, it’s impossible to prepare for the looming threats that this obscure area of the net introduces to enterprises.

Level setting on the current remote work landscape

The global pandemic has changed the way organizations and businesses once operated. The rapid shift to remote work brought on tons of security challenges for all types of businesses. Due to the overwhelming increase in remote work, many organizations were not equipped with the right tools and security measures leaving them entirely helpless and at the mercy of the threat actors.

According to a survey conducted by Owl Labs, when the Covid-19 pandemic was at its peak, more than 70% of employees were working from home. Another survey by OpenVPN found that 90% of remote workers were not secure. As per keeper.io “Cybersecurity in the Remote Work era Global risk report”, organizational security postures saw a drastic decline during the pandemic due to remote work.

The most common cybersecurity risks associated with remote work environments include but are not limited to malware & phishing attacks, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) attacks, Insider Threats, shadow IT device threats, home Wi-Fi security, lack of visibility, accidental data exposure, and more.

The sudden rise in remote work since 2020 has overwhelmed the IT teams responsible for cybersecurity. Now, in addition to regular technical infrastructure support for the organization, they also need to support remote work-related issues. The rise of remote work coupled with overwhelmed IT teams increases the human error factor.  Adversaries leverage such situations to exploit vulnerabilities at large.

Scott Ikeda quotes in the CPO Magazine, “71% of organizations are very concerned about remote workers being the cause of a data breach, and unsurprisingly the biggest concerns are the state of their personal devices and their physical security practices. A whopping 42% of organizations are reporting that they simply do not know how to defend against cyber-attacks that are aimed at remote workers. 31% say they are not requiring remote workers to use authentication methods, and only 35% require multi-factor authentication.”

Level setting on the current Insider Threat landscape

An Insider Threat is a security risk that originates from within the organization. It includes employees, third-party contractors, former employees, and consultants who have access to the company’s resources, network infrastructure, and IT practices. An insider threat is capable of compromising an organization’s confidential data, information systems, networks, critical assets by using different attack vectors.

The intent of an insider threat is not always malicious. In fact, insider threat incidents are more likely to happen due to the carelessness of employees. According to a Forrester research report, in 2021, 33% of cybersecurity incidents will happen due to insider threats. In addition, according to the 2020 Cost of Insider Threat report by the Ponemon Institute, 62% of the incidents are due to negligent insiders, 23% due to criminal insiders, and 14% due to credential insiders. Similarly, the cost incurred by an organization due to a negligent insider is 4.58 million, more than other insiders on the category list. The world has seen a 47% increase in cybersecurity incidents caused by the insider threat.

Example insider cybersecurity incidents

Some notable cybersecurity incidents which were caused due to insider threats:

  1. Gregory Chung, a former Chinese-born engineer at Boeing was charged with economic espionage. He used his security clearance to smuggle Boeing trade secrets to China. He was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment.
  2. Twitter faced an insider attack in 2020, where attackers used social engineering and spear-phishing attacks to compromise high-profile Twitter accounts. Scammers used their profile to promote bitcoin scams. Twitter’s forensic investigations revealed one of their admin team member accounts was compromised exposing access to admin account tools. The adversaries were able to use spear-phishing techniques to get hold of the account, which later used tactics that enabled them to take over high profile users’ accounts such as those of Bill Gates, Barack Obama, etc. and run the bitcoin scam.

Level setting on the current state of the dark web

In simple terms, the dark web is a part of the internet that is not indexed by search engines. The dark web also cannot be accessed by a normal browser. It requires the use of a special browser, for example, the Tor browser (The Onion Router).

Using the dark web, users can get access to information that is not publicly available on the surface web – the part of the internet that is used by people daily. This provides users with anonymity and privacy as it’s difficult to trace someone’s digital footprint once they are on the dark web.

Image Source: Neteffect

Though the Dark Web provides extreme privacy and protection against surveillance from various governments, it is also known as the cyber “black market”. Sophisticated criminals and malicious threat actors use this marketplace to traffic illicit drugs, child pornography, counterfeit bills, stolen credit card numbers, weapons, stolen Netflix subscriptions, and even an organization’s sensitive/critical data. People can also hire a hitman for assassination or recruit skilled hackers to hack systems or networks. The bottom line is that it can get pretty dark in there, hence the name.

Image Source: Techjury

According to a survey conducted by Precise Security, in 2019, more than 30% of North Americans used the dark web regularly. 

Where remote workers exist, insider threats and the dark web intersect

Growing insider threat trends in the remote era reveal the high-risk organizations now face. The dark web has played a crucial part in this evolution both in providing attackers with access to recruit insiders, as well as, empowering them to run lucrative garage sales with stolen data. 

External attackers breach companies and sell data on the dark web, commit fraud, and more

It’s not uncommon to learn of an organization’s critical data which includes confidential data, financial data, and trade secrets being sold on the dark web marketplace. During the global pandemic, adversaries have exploited vulnerabilities in remote working environments by using techniques such as phishing, clickjacking, ransomware attacks, malware/virus injections, social engineering attacks, and more to gain access to this data for sale. They also use this data for organizational identify theft and fraud.

Malicious insiders auction off data on the dark web

Poor working culture and employee morale in organizations may lead a disgruntled employee to sell company data or even hire a skilled hacker to break into the company’s private network and cause severe disruptions. 

Malicious actors are hiring your employees through the dark web

Attackers need a way into your organization. What better way to do that than to make a friend on the inside? Cybercriminals have turned to the dark web to recruit employees within organizations they are targeting. Conversely, malicious employees are offering to sell out their employers to attackers on the dark web as well.

Curious, non-malicious insiders expose organizations to dark web vulnerabilities 

Many people also use the dark web for anonymity and privacy and do not know the potential negative implications of doing so carelessly. While connected to the enterprise network remotely they might access the dark web and unwillingly expose the organization’s sensitive data. 

Remote workers may use their home network Wi-Fi to connect the company’s internal network via a VPN. A remote worker may visit malicious websites or download shady tools and software that can lead to severe data breaches. The malicious site or tools may contain links to a command and control center or even a dark web community forum from which a threat actor could pivot into the corporate network via the remote worker’s laptop. Once pivoted into the corporate network the adversary can launch all sorts of attacks such as ransomware, Denial of Service (DDoS), phishing attacks, and more. When employee activity is not monitored over remote work environments it becomes very difficult for organizations to take control over what they can’t see. 

Bringing light to the dark web in the remote world through advanced insider threat detection 

Artificial Intelligence plays a critical role in combatting insider threats, and thus dark web risks

The risks and threats associated with insiders are difficult to detect as they tend to have legitimate access to many important resources of the organization, and this risk increases when employees work remotely. The remote work environments and practices have increased the attack surface and level of opportunity available to cybercriminals. It is now increasingly difficult for organizations to keep pace with the sheer volume of threats, and the corresponding resources required to manually detect and respond to those threats. Threat mitigation techniques using artificial intelligence (AI) and automation have become very necessary to effectively monitor, detect, control, and mitigate insider threats. 

David Mytton, CTO Seedcamp nicely summarizes the situation as follows:

“The volume of data being generated is perhaps the largest challenge in cybersecurity. As more and more systems become instrumented — who has logged in and when what was downloaded and when what was accessed and when — the problem shifts from knowing that ‘something has happened to highlight that ‘something unusual has happened.” 

That “something unusual” might be an irregular user or system behavior, or simply false alarms.

AI and automation help in correlating threat responses and mitigation faster than any human being can. With these advancements, organizations are able to process large volumes of data, analyze logs, and perform behavioral analysis, threat detection, and mitigation with little to no human intervention.

The response time of AI is phenomenal as it can learn, act and hack in a more efficient and effective manner than the current penetration and vulnerability assessment tools. As such, AI will play a very important role in cybersecurity threat detection. AI can help data protection solutions to rectify, support, and prevent end-user threats such as data leakage, manage unauthorized access, and more. In addition, AI will continue to make threat detection and response solutions to be more efficient and effective in the near future.

Basic cyber hygiene will continue to be paramount in combatting dark web risks

Organizations need to spread awareness among their employees regarding remote work cybersecurity threats and dark web challenges. To do this, establish security awareness programs. Passwords used to log in or access the corporate networks need to be strong and complex. VPN should be properly configured and should be employed with the latest encryption technologies and protocols. Access controls should be implemented to properly limit unauthorized access to critical resources, especially for remote workers.

Visibility for overall user activity is crucial, especially in remote work environments. Organizations need to see what their employees are up to when they are accessing corporate networks for interacting with enterprise resources, sharing files, uploading or downloading files, accessing the central repository or database, using remote desktop services, and more. Close monitoring of such activities ensures organizations take appropriate steps to minimize insider threats and deploy the required countermeasures to prevent malicious activity in remote work environments.

Next-generation insider threat detection technology provides visibility and monitoring needed to shed light on dark web risks

Next-generation insider threat detection and employee monitoring solutions, like Veriato Cerebral, can be used to track down one of the key sources to dark web issues – insider threats. By integrating user behavioral analytics (UEBA), user activity monitoring (UAM), and data breach response (DBR) into a single solution, the organization’s security teams are empowered to identify and minimize insider threats. Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, these solutions create a unique digital fingerprint of every user on different platforms, be it a virtual or a physical endpoint. 

In the remote era, the keywords to addressing dark web risks are visibility and insight. Using next-gen technology, organizations can get the level of insight into user activity that is necessary to understand if and when your employees are engaging in sketchy activity on the dark web such as selling their corporate login credentials and more. 

Examples of the level of visibility that can help includes insight into:

  • Web activity monitoring  
  • Network activity monitoring
  • Email Activity 
  • IM & Chat Activity 
  • File and Document Tracking 
  • Keystroke logging 
  • User status 
  • Geolocation 
  • Anomaly Detection
  • Risk scoring etc.

In addition to insider threat detection solutions, organizations can also leverage remote employee monitoring and employee investigations solutions to secure the organization from rising insider threats in remote work environments.

Conclusion

Risks and threats related to remote work will continue to rise. Adversaries will continue using complex and sophisticated attack and compromise techniques to harm enterprise networks and systems via remote working environments. Veriato’s AI-based, advanced threat mitigation solutions ensure that your remote working environment is fully protected and your visibility over IT operations is also increased. These solutions proactively detect and prevent dark web threats and insider threats to secure your organization and remote work environments.

Cybersecurity is not a one-stop-shop

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By Steve Law, CTO, Giacom and Kelvin Murray, Threat Researcher, Webroot

Boris Johnson announced the Government’s roadmap to lift Coronavirus restrictions for both businesses and the general public earlier in February, and since then, this has provided a glimmer of hope for many across the country. However, since the start of the pandemic, the way business is conducted has changed permanently, with many workforces wanting to continue to work remotely as lockdowns and restrictions ease over time.

So, as companies relax and rules are eased, life is expected to return to a form of ‘new normal.’ But, the issues around cybersecurity are here to stay, and the gas pedal must not be eased – especially with the increased risks associated with continued remote working. 

If anything, security should be more reinforced now than ever before to ensure all aspects of a business are secure. But this isn’t the case. Steve Law, CTO, Giacom and Kelvin Murray, Threat Researcher, Webroot, detail the importance of embedding a trilogy security approach into organisations, and this is where a strong CSP/MSP relationship can be invaluable. 

The Risk Grows

Despite lockdown restrictions easing, cybersecurity risks remain and are likely to grow as COVID-19 changes the working landscape. As indoor spaces begin to open in the next few months, employees will want to venture out to new spaces to work, such as coffee shops and internet cafes – but working on open networks and personal devices creates unlocked gateways for cyberattacks to take place. Since this hybrid and remote way of working looks like it’s here to stay, businesses must ensure they have the right infrastructure in place to combat any cyber threats. 

For instance, research by the National Cyber Security Centre shows that there has been a rise in COVID-19 related cyber attacks over the past year, with more than one in four UK hacks being related to the pandemic. This trend is not likely to ease up any time soon either. And, going forward, hackers could take advantage of excited travellers waiting to book their next holiday once the travel ban is lifted, deploying fake travel websites, for example. 

Aside from the bad actors in this wider scenario, part of the problem here is that many IT teams are not making use of a holistic and layered approach to security and data recovery; which can lead to damaging consequences as data is stolen from organisations. Such issues continue to resonate strongly across businesses of all sizes, who will, therefore, turn to their MSPs for a solution. 

The Importance of a Layered Approach 

Cybersecurity is not a one-stop-shop. A full trilogy of solutions is required to ensure maximum effect. This includes a layered combination of DNS networking, secure endpoint connections, and an educated and empowered human workforce. 

The need for DNS security cannot be ignored, especially with the rise of remote workforces, in order to monitor and manage internet access policies, as well as reduce malware. DNS is frequently targeted by

bad actors, and so DNS-layer protection is now increasingly regarded as an essential security control – providing an added layer of protection between a user and the internet by blocking malicious websites and filtering out unwanted material. 

Similarly, endpoint protection solutions prevent file-based malware, detect and block malicious internal and external activity, and respond to security alerts in real-time. Webroot® Business Endpoint Protection, for example, harnesses the power of cloud computing and real-time machine learning to monitor and adapt individual endpoint defences to the unique threats that users face.

However, these innovative tools and solutions cannot be implemented without educating users and embedding a cyber security-aware culture throughout the workforce. Humans are often the weakest link in cybersecurity, with 90% of data breaches occurring due to human error. So, by offering the right training and resources, businesses can help their employees increase their cyber resilience and position themselves strongly on the front line of defence. This combination is crucial to ensure the right digital solutions are in place – as well as increasing workforces’ understanding of the critical role they play in keeping the organisation safe. In turn, these security needs provide various monetisation opportunities for the channel as more businesses require the right blend of technology and education to enable employees to be secure.

The Channel’s Role 

Businesses, particularly SMBs, will look to MSPs to protect their businesses and help them achieve cyber resilience. This creates a unique and valuable opportunity for MSPs to guide customers through their cybersecurity journeys, providing them with the right tools and data protection solutions to get the most out of their employees’ home working environments in the most secure ways. Just as importantly, MSPs need to take responsibility for educating their own teams and clients. This includes delivering additional training modules around online safety through ongoing security awareness training, as well as endpoint protection and anything else that is required to enhance cyber resilience.

Moreover, cyber resilience solutions and packages can be custom-built and personalised to fit the needs of the customer, including endpoint protection, ongoing end-user training, threat intelligence, and backup and recovery. With the right tools in place to grow and automate various services – complemented by technical, organisational and personal support – channel partners will then have the keys to success to develop new revenue streams too.

Conclusion 

Hackers are more innovative than ever before, and in order to combat increasing threats, businesses need to stay one step ahead. Companies must continue to account for the new realities of remote work and distracted workforces, and they must reinforce to employees that cyber resilience isn’t just the job of IT teams – it’s a responsibility that everyone shares. By taking a multi-layered approach to cybersecurity, businesses can develop a holistic view of their defence strategy, accounting for the multitude of vectors by which modern malware and threats are delivered. Within this evolving cybersecurity landscape, it’s essential for SMBs to find an MSP partner that offers a varied portfolio of security offerings and training, as well as the knowledge and support, to keep their business data, workforces and network secure.

WEBINAR: Managing the Compliance & Security Nightmares Caused By A Remote Workforce

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Webinar – March 11th, 12pm GMT 

How do companies protect themselves with the right tools to mitigate compliance and security concerns?

There are precautions and best practices that are being employed by many companies, and should be part of the security and compliance infrastructure as companies adapt to the new norm of both people and sensitive data residing in remote locations.

In this Webinar we’ll discuss:

  • Maintaining compliance while employees work remotely
  • Maintaining Compliance when employees go offline
  • Monitoring the activity of employees working from home
  • The increased threat posed by remote employees?

Sign up for our latest Webinar on March 11th at 12pm GMT!

Sign Up Now!

73% of IT execs concerned over remote working security risks

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73% of security and IT executives are concerned about new vulnerabilities and risks introduced by the distributed workforce, highlighting an ‘alarming’ disconnect between confidence in security posture and increased cyberattacks during the global pandemic.

The data from Skybox Research Lab comes after enterprises rapidly shifted to make work from home possible and maintain business productivity. Forced to accelerate digital transformation initiative, this created the perfect storm, the research says.

Skybox Research Lab discovered that 2020 will be a record-breaking year for new vulnerabilities with a 34% increase year-over-year – a leading indicator for the growth of future attacks.

As a result, security teams now have more to protect than ever before. Surveying 295 global executives, the Skybox 2020 “Cybersecurity in the new normal” report found that organizations are overconfident in their security posture, and new strategies are needed to secure a long-term distributed workforce.

Key findings:

  • Deprioritized security tasks increase risk: Over 30% of security executives said software updates and BYOD policies were deprioritized. Further, 42% noted reporting was deprioritized since the onset of the pandemic.
  • Enterprises can’t keep up with the pace: 32% had difficulties validating if network and security configurations undermined security posture. 55% admitted that it was at least moderately difficult for them to validate network and security configurations did not increase risk.
  • Security teams are overconfident in security posture: Only 11% confirmed they could confidently maintain a holistic view of their organizations’ attack surfaces. Shockingly, 93% of security executives were still confident that changes were correctly validated.
  • The distributed workforce is here to stay: 70% of respondents projected that at least one-third of their employees will remain remote 18 months from now.

“Traditional detect-and-respond approaches are no longer enough. A radical new approach is needed – one that is rooted in the development of preventative and prescriptive vulnerability and threat management practices,” said Gidi Cohen, co-founder and CEO, Skybox Security. “To advance change, it is integral that everything, including data and talent, is working towards enriching the security program as a whole.”

To download the full report, visit: https://www.skyboxsecurity.com/security-transformation/

Cyber security habits getting lax during lockdown

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Britons have developed lax cyber security habits, using their work equipment to shop online, check their social media or forgetting to log themselves out of applications once they’ve stopped using them.

That’s according to research from Mimecast, which says businesses should capitalise on the phased return to the office to implement stringent training and improve cybersecurity awareness among their workforce.

The results of the survey, it says, are damning:

  • 63% of Britons use their personal devices to access the corporate network
  • As the lines between their personal and professional lives blur, almost 60% forward personal emails to their professional ones
  • Almost half open attachments from unknown sources (49.4%) or click on links in emails from unknown sources (47.1%)

Mimecast says these bad practices result in more cybersecurity incidents across businesses, with three in four IT leaders witnessing cybersecurity issues once a month or more – more worryingly, 20% of them admit occurrences happen more than once a day. 

Email remains the first source of cybersecurity issues: 42% of IT leaders acknowledge most cybersecurity incidents start with an employee clicking on a malicious link in an email. As hackers become more sophisticated, 30% admit that these emails mimic an internal source, increasing the challenge to identify whether a source is legitimate or not for employees who may not have seen their colleagues since March. 

Cyberhygiene varies widely between divisions

To add to this constant headache for IT leaders, the level of cybersecurity awareness within the organisation varies widely between divisions – with the main culprits for poor cybersecurity hygiene often being the ones who manage the highest volume of emails. 

IT leaders rank risk and compliance as the most trustworthy division when it comes to cybersecurity, closely followed by the finance department. The latter has long been a hacker’s favourite target as one small mistake can provide access to the company’s financial information and result in a dip in revenue. 

While the guarantors of the company’s financial health are among the most vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity, those responsible for its reputation could use a refresher: IT leaders see marketing and communications as the worst offenders when it comes to bad cybersecurity practices, followed by design and HR & training. 

Many organisations had to implement large-scale remote working policies in a hurry to respond to the lockdown. Yet, IT leaders are confident this has helped their workforce to become more mindful of cybersecurity: eight out of ten believe their company will be better prepared to cope with disruption, and that employees within their organisation will have better cyber hygiene moving forward. 

Francis Gaffney, Director of Threat Analysis at Mimecast, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on businesses across the country, making it difficult for many to function as they usually would. With offices forced to close overnight, many workforces were working remotely for the first time. This obviously had major implications for cybersecurity, as IT had limited visibility into employee habits. This research is particularly worrying because it shows that UK employees are failing to follow basic cybersecurity best practises, which can have huge repercussions for businesses both financially and from a reputation perspective.  Now is the time to prioritise cyber hygiene awareness training to ensure employees returning to the office will be proficient in keeping the business secure.”

Image by Stefan Coders from Pixabay 

Giving resellers the key to unlocking end user continuity, productivity and flexibility

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By Dave Manning, Operations Director, Giacom

Until recently, the transition to working from home was unfolding at a gradual pace for many businesses. Although there is much research to back up the benefits of flexible and remote working, many business leaders remained sceptical, believing that office working remained the setup that would be most productive and beneficial from a cultural perspective. 

But the current crisis delivered an ultimatum for many businesses – cease operations or deploy technology to enable employees to work from home for the foreseeable future. There are, of course, several industries where working from home is not an option, but for the majority, there are ways to simply facilitate it – demonstrated by the fact that more than 39% of adults in employment are now working from home, compared to around 12% last year. 

Many employees are thriving working from home. And the hours they have gained back while working from home are not going to be something they will want to give up easily –  two-thirds (63%) of workers said they are open to full time remote working and never going back to the physical office once the crisis is over. It’s becoming clear that the future will not be a permanent office-based workforce, but will shift to a hybrid model combining both remote and office working, allowing for a larger degree of flexibility. This approach of working fuelled by the pandemic is clearly favoured, as 77% of UK employees believe a mix of office-based and remote working is the best way forward post Covid-19. 

For those companies set up to work from home, it’s clear that if business continuity and productivity are maintained – or even improved – during a crisis, they will long term as well. But companies that aren’t properly set up to support remote working are missing out on significant business value gains. To facilitate hybrid working long term, employees must be equipped not only to survive, but to thrive. So how can resellers support end user organisations in transitioning to this new way of operating in the future?

A cloudy future

The lockdown enforcement saw the need for businesses to adapt to this new way of working almost overnight, resulting in a huge surge of enquiries to resellers to get employees working remotely as quickly as possible. Even with cloud-based solutions gaining popularity over the years, a lot of business infrastructure remain on-premises. Businesses need to be moving to a cloud-based infrastructure where the technology they deploy allows for the flexibility to work remotely and on-premises if required. For IT companies supporting SMBs who want to future-proof their businesses and replace outdated on site servers, the cloud offers a fixed cost server solution to IT companies supporting SMBs, while delivering secure storage and easy provisioning as well as scalability – ensuring a futureproof solution for end users. 

Productivity tools

Collaboration tools have come of age and the race is on to both develop and implement smoother integrated IT communications, video, voice strategies so that business can perform at an even higher level whilst working from home. Similar to the transition from letter writing to email, businesses are realising they can actually get more achieved in the same time with cloud-based tools and people not having to travel miles around the country on public transport, in cars or internationally by plane.

And as virtual collaboration tools develop even further to deliver advanced capabilities, employee productivity will only increase. Resellers will be the crucial advisors to companies in order to facilitate their needs, backed up with support from CSPs to help navigate through the most relevant and valuable cloud solutions for their end users. 

Secure setup

Resellers have undoubtedly already experienced the surge of businesses looking to get staff up and running with remote collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams etc.. But in the rush to get everyone online and maintain business continuity, security considerations likely slipped much further down the list. Given the continued increase in frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks, especially those capitalising on the current crisis through phishing scams, ‘Zoom-bombing’ incidents and the like, it’s never been more important to prioritise cyber security. 

This is especially true for those organisations that are new to the concept of remote working. While they may have had a solution in place for keeping the corporate network secure within the physical office, a virtual business requires different tools and techniques. This is where resellers can play a crucial role as key consultants to end-users on how they can keep their data secure and deploy reliable, cloud-based backup solutions to safeguard their sensitive information even further. 

A hybrid and flexible infrastructure

While we are all looking forward to this crisis being over, given the nature of the pandemic it’s unlikely that there will be a hard stop to lockdown. Even with the government now lifting some of the restrictions, we can expect a combination of working from home and office working with social distancing and other measures still in place for some time to come. And research has found that 74% of business leaders intend to shift some employees to remote working permanently. No one knows exactly what that journey will look like, so businesses require the toolkit and technology to enable a hybrid working infrastructure now and into the future. 

Moreover, lockdown measures may be starting to ease gradually, but if the UK is faced with a second wave of the virus, or we experience another crisis in the future, additional lockdown measures may have to be put back in place, as was the case in Singapore that struggled to contain a second wave. Flexibility is therefore crucial to safeguard business continuity and enable organisations to maintain optimum productivity levels even in the midst of another unprecedented event. 

The key will be for resellers to support end users in deploying tools that support this new way of working. From unified communications and collaboration software, to cloud-based backup and security tools that keep the corporate network safe no matter where the user is based, resellers hold the key to unlocking end user organisations’ continuity, productivity and flexibility. 

Unmanaged personal devices at home threatening corporate security

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More than half of UK employees working remotely during lockdown use unmanaged personal devices to access corporate systems.

That’s according to a study published today by CyberArk, which found that UK employees’ work-from-home habits – including password re-use and letting family members use corporate devices – are putting critical business systems and sensitive data at risk.

The survey, which aimed to gauge the current state of security in today’s expanded remote work environment, found that:

  • 60% of remote employees are using unmanaged, insecure “BYOD” devices to access corporate systems. 
  • 57% of employees have adopted communication and collaboration tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which have been the focus of highly publicised security flaws

Working Parents Compound the Risk

The study found that the risks to corporate security become even higher when it comes to working parents. As this group had to quickly and simultaneously transform into full-time teachers, caregivers and playmates, it’s no surprise that convenience would outweigh good cybersecurity practices when it comes to working from home. 

  • 57% insecurely save passwords in browsers on their corporate devices
  • 89% reuse passwords across applications and devices
  • 21% admitted that they allow other members of their household to use their corporate devices for activities like schoolwork, gaming and shopping. 

Are Current Work-from-Home Security Policies Enough?

While 91% of IT Teams are confident in their ability to secure the new remote workforce, more than half (57%) have not increased their security protocols despite the significant change in the way employees connect to corporate systems and the addition of new productivity applications.

CyberArk says the rush to onboard new applications and services that enable remote work combined with insecure connections and dangerous security practices of employees has significantly widened the attack surface and security strategies need to be updated to match this new dynamic threat landscape. This is especially true when it comes to securing privileged credentials of remote workers, which, if compromised, could open the door to an organisation’s most critical systems and resources.

“Major socio-economic events have always led to a sharp uptake in cyber incidents. The WHO has warned of an exponential increase in attacks due to the global and unprecedented nature of the ongoing health crisis, and its transformative impact on the way we work. With the accelerated use of collaboration tools and home networks for professional purposes, best-practice security is struggling to keep pace with the need for convenience which, in turn, is leaving businesses vulnerable”, said Rich Turner, SVP EMEA, CyberArk.

“Responsibility for security needs to be split between employees and employers. As more UK organisations extend remote work for the longer term, employees must be vigilant. This means constantly updating and never re-using passwords, verifying that the operating system and application software they use are up to date, and ensuring all work and communication is conducted only on approved devices, applications and collaboration tools. Simultaneously, businesses must constantly review their security policies to ensure employees only have access to the critical data and systems they need to do their work, and no more. Decreasing exposure is critical in the context of an expanded attack surface.”

Transitioning to Secure Remote Working During and Beyond COVID-19

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By Steve Law, CTO, Giacom and Sébastien Gest, VadeSecure

Organisations of all sizes that typically work in office environments have been thrown into the deep end due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Social distancing measures and restricting unnecessary travel has meant that a majority of companies had to unexpectedly revert to remote working. Many of these businesses quickly realised that they weren’t ready for this digital transformation, with recent research suggesting that UK firms are among the world’s least prepared for home-working.

With 25% of businesses having no crisis plan in place and 55% of employees having little to no experience of working from home, organisations have had to revise their working practices to be able to conduct their work digitally and remain effective. Technology plays a key role in enabling remote work, but many organisations did not have this planned in advance, and subsequently, are at a disadvantage due to their current inadequate technology solutions and infrastructure in place. This can lead to significantly increased security risks and concerns, as Steve Law, CTO, Giacom and Sébastien Gest, VadeSecure, explain.

Workplace Challenges

Workforces may not have access to the necessary devices from their homes such as work laptops, the correct video conference solutions or collaboration tools in place to perform their role. As a result, employees who are working from home will have to do so from their own devices. This ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) phenomenon creates a security concern as not all personal electronic devices will have the correct level of security installed on them – the software may not be up to date, they may have an older version of Windows installed or no antivirus software available.

This creates an issue for both the consumer and the professional, as the same credentials are often used across multiple accounts at the same time. Hackers’ creativity is limitless and is becoming more sophisticated over time. Vade Secure has seen a shift in cyber criminals’ strategies, changing from attacking individuals with ransomware to instead using these individuals as a backdoor to gain access to corporate networks, and there is no better opportunity to do this than via individuals using their personal devices from home. However, by implementing the correct software and security solutions across all employees’ devices, these risks can be mitigated. 

Evolving threats 

The number of cyberattacks has continued to increase over time, with up to 88% of UK companies being targets of breaches in the last 12 months. However, hackers are taking advantage of the current coronavirus situation by sending phishing emails purporting to be PPE suppliers or medication. Recent statistics have found that since January 2020, there have been over 4,000 coronavirus-related domains registered globally, with 3% found to be malicious and 5% suspicious. These results heighten the importance of ensuring your workforce are securely remote working.

Over the last three months, as the coronavirus outbreak has unfolded, Vade Secure has seen a surge in spear-phishing and malware activities. Examples of this which have been found include capitalising on psychological aspects of the victims, including Covid-19 charity campaigns, fake mask and sanitiser suppliers, as well as stock and medications for purchases which don’t exist.

With 91% of cyber attacks using emails as their first vector, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your employees have a secure email network in place. No organisation is immune to the threat and companies which don’t have the right security software in place need to act now before it’s too late. By adding these security elements, companies can benefit from detecting and blocking features and using Artificial Intelligence to secure their networks and become notified when a non-legitimate email appears.

Securing the weakest link  

Often, the weakest link of an organisation is the employee, as 88% of UK data breaches are caused by human error. Employees are not security experts and can fall foul to phishing scams if they don’t have the right level of education or awareness. When working from home, your workforce is under more pressure to work both faster and harder, which can lead to mistakes being made. Staff members don’t have the time to check every email before they open them, but this one click can make all the difference.

Instead, by educating employees and making them more vigilant, they will be able to spot scams and cyber attacks before the damage is done. Combined with the right security software that uses techniques such as alert ‘pop-ups’ to prompt users to check emails before clicking on links, for example, the workforce will become more aware of the signs to look out for. By enabling users to make an informed decision about the nature and legitimacy of their email before acting on it, organisations can now mitigate against this high-risk area.

Conclusion

In order for organisations to limit the number of insider data and security breaches,  particularly when working remotely, it’s crucial for employees to understand the role they play in keeping the company’s information secure. By preparing in advance and having a secure contingency plan in place which provides employees with the necessary devices and security, companies will be in a stronger position to defend their systems against hackers. In addition to this, supporting employees with training will allow workforces to understand the evolving risks they face, and how to keep their information and systems secure. 

WEBINAR REWIND: How to Tackle Working From Home Security Threats

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Last week ZIVVER hosted a webinar during which participants learned the secrets to securing an organization’s communications while safeguarding against costly data leaks with a remote workforce – if you missed this essential session you can re-watch it again now.

The lively 30 minute discussion includes expert insight and opinion from:

  • Quentyn Taylor is Head of Security for one of the largest enterprises in London. He is regarded as a key security commentator and is regularly quoted and published in industry publications and mainstream media.
  • Becky Pinkard is a renowned practitioner and commentator on the information security sector who has been working in information technology and security since 1996.
  • Rick Goud is the co-founder and CEO of Zivver, one of the top secure communication platform companies in Europe.

Tops covered off include:

  • Behind the stats: the top causes of data breaches in the UK
  • Data leak blunders and how to prevent them 
  • Evolving security threats with a remote workforce 
  • Modern solutions to secure outbound communications 

Watch again by clicking here

Securing outbound email is vital to help safeguard sensitive information and prevent data leaks. The good news is that this can be done easily and affordably with ZIVVER’s secure communication platform.

Getting started is easy

Setting up a ZIVVER account for up to 50 users can be conveniently done from any device in just a few clicks, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Simply choose the desired plan, select the number of users, and pay with a credit card to immediately begin sending communications securely.

Use the code WFH30UK to get 30% off for the first 3 months of your subscription – Click here to get started.