3 Ways to Secure Remote Workers for the Future

3 Ways to Secure Remote Workers for the Future

Many businesses have transitioned to a new operating model and are beginning to accept this new normal. With all the challenges facing our world today, one can assume that things will be different for a while. Organizations have begun to mobilize their workforce, and remote-work capabilities are becoming more flexible. Gone are the days when workers were tethered to a dedicated desktop and seated closely amongst their peers.

What does this mean for the security of organizations?

With an increased number of employees working off mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones, users will often connect to unsecured networks to access work files. Without proper management of mobile devices, users are vulnerable to malicious attacks, and threat actors are ready to take advantage of this situation.

Here are three ways to help protect your remote workers and secure your organization’s data

1. Device Level Encryption

For many years, encryption has been a standard practice to help protect sensitive data from prying eyes. However, not all devices have device-level encryption settings turned on as a default. If you are an organization that is beholden to compliance, encryption helps to meet those requirements. With added endpoint security, you will have device management, centralized deployment, policy administration, and audit reporting capabilities for all devices associated with your network. This means that if a remote worker’s device becomes compromised, your company’s sensitive data will remain safe, and the infection will be isolated from the rest of your corporate network.

2. Managed Security

Security applications and devices, such as firewalls and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), are an integral part of any layered security environment. Although these systems generally prevent unauthorized access to and from your network, the virtual alerts and threat identification that they provide usually remain unmonitored. To be effective, remote workers need to have confidence in their data protection systems when signing into their respective networks. Having 24/7 managed security affords your organization a more vigorous defence against potential threat actors. With Jolera’s layered managed security approach, your organization will have real-time alerting on threats filtered through our Security Information Event Management (SIEM) system. In addition to automated protection, live agents will analyze and remediate these threats through our Network Operations Centre (NOC) and Security Operations Centre (SOC).

3. Mobile Device Management

Mobile device management (MDM) enables organizations to ensure its remote workers’ data is always protected. The great thing about MDM is that it can integrate with services such as Office 365 and the Active Directory to control who has access and what they have access to within your network. MDM solutions also provide the ability to set rules and configure settings on personal devices to allow users to securely access company data and networks. MDM can deploy and authenticate apps on devices, both on-premises and remotely.

When deployed properly, MDM can increase the security of devices tenfold by pushing certificates to devices that are in the field, while preparing reports on these users and their devices for compliance purposes. It can also remotely wipe the device if it’s found that the device has been lost or stolen or deemed not in use by the organization.

Each of these security layers can help to protect sensitive data from breaches and threat actors. Managing a remote IT environment means that organizations require a 24/7/365 approach that includes monitoring, support, troubleshooting, maintenance, reporting and asset management for all end-user devices. The need for remote support and network security has become an essential part of business operations.

6 Tips to Return to Work Safely

6 Tips to Return to Work Safely

The curve may not be flat, but at many levels of government both in Canada and around the world, discussions about restarting the economy and reopening businesses are beginning. Strategies are starting to develop that will see people eventually get back to the office, stores, factories and other workplace locations they are used to going to for work.

As the new guidelines are developing, expect to see social or physical distancing and other forms of protective measures becoming a significant part of any get-back-to-work program.

What will these types of programs look like for organizations?

How can an individual who has spent the better part of March and all of April indoors begin to ready themselves for a return? Some clues can be found in the way other countries are dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19 lockdown.

Austria

In Austria, the aim was to start small and build from there. The European country only had small shops of 400 square meters open at first. These openings were under guard for security. Masks were mandated in these shops and on public transport. If the Austrian restart went well, then the country would look to open hotels, shopping malls and restaurants in two weeks.

Denmark

Meanwhile, in Denmark, that country embarked on a more conservative staggered approach. What they wanted to do was avoid overcrowding in public areas and on public transit. The staggered approach also means people will be going back to work slowly and in different sections of the economy. Again, this is to avoid any mass gatherings.

Ontario, Canada

The province of Ontario recently released its guide called “A Framework for Reopening the Province.” In this guide, the Government of Ontario’s goals are slightly different than those of Austria and Denmark. The Government of Ontario framework has the same overall priority, which is to protect the health and well-being of all its citizens. Ontario will have a focus on supporting healthcare workers, essential workers and businesses who have been working throughout the lockdown. Ontario will also have a staggered reopening approach, which will have three phases and between a two-to-four week evaluation period for each. You can read more about Ontario’s plan to reopen the province by clicking here.

Here are some tips to get yourself ready

1. Self-diagnose

Physically going back to work should start with you. Do your self-assessment to see if you are well enough to venture back to the office, shop or factory floor. If you are sick or not at 100 percent, inform your manager or company human resources professional and stay at home. Chances are you have not been tested for the Coronavirus. And, more than likely do not have the virus, but coming in with the sniffles will not lead to co-worker confidence in that the workplace is safe. Do your self-check, and don’t take any chances.

2. Spacious and clean work areas

Social distancing will continue in the workplace. Expect to be two metres or six feet from the next person. This will impact the lunchrooms and company lounges across the country. Don’t be surprised if they are closed off entirely. Expect to get staggered lunchtimes for employees and capacity levels, similar to what supermarkets are doing today. If you are in operations, it might be a good idea to review the current floor plan. Also, don’t be surprised to see shift cycles of being at home and work in workplaces with limited space. This means you might be working in the office on Monday but at home Tuesday. And, you will be asked to clean your area before you leave for the day thoroughly. And, if you keep a photo of your kids at your workstation, you may be asked to remove it. Overall work environment cleaning will increase dramatically and may occur during the workday.

3. Call ahead in-person meetings

Many great ideas got started around the water-cooler. Water cooler collaboration will not return immediately. And, the water-cooler may not even be available when you return. At least not right away. If you have a thought that you want to share with a co-worker, you’ll be asked to give that person a heads up electronically either via email or some other collaboration app before you walk over to that other person’s work area to brainstorm if allowed at all.

4. Workplace shifts

Government-imposed mandates on limiting the number of people in groups will have its place in any return to work policy. Get ready to have more Teams, Zoom, and WebEx sessions, while you are at the office. Do not be alarmed if your favourite co-worker is not at work when you arrive. There might be a return to work order where you will be placed in a shift. There will be several situations that arise where an individual will feel unsure of themselves returning to work after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Employers will have very little choice but to accommodate them, especially early on.

5. Conference room capacity

Meeting rooms will have capacity limits. Those limits will be posted on the door. You may be asked to join a meeting inside your own office via a Teams, Zoom or WebEx session. If you do use the room, you will be asked to clean the room and wipe it down immediately afterwards. This will pose a unique challenge to in-person meetings with guests, and you may need to co-ordinate more online sessions. What could lead to an awkward situation is having guests go through a temperature scanner before they enter the boardroom. If your company or organization currently does not have any video conference technology, you may have to invest in a solution to have the use of meeting rooms.

6. Proper hand hygiene

Don’t be surprised to see several hand sanitization stations throughout your workplace, especially at entrances. Also, your organization will ask you to sanitize your hands before entering any area of the office, factory floor or retail space. Currently, people are wearing gloves to go to the supermarket. Gloves may not be appropriate for your working environment, but you can envision a situation where you may have to ask patrons or guests of your workplace to sanitize their hands before entering.

As you prepare yourself for a physical return to your previous workplace, do not expect the old norm, we’ll have to adjust to a new norm. As with all these decisions, organizations must take, they must be cautious and well thought out to protect the health and safety of their employees. Here at Jolera, we’re here to help with any concerns about organizing your company’s return to work. You can contact us anytime, and we hope you are staying safe and healthy.

The Dangers of Working Remotely

The Dangers of Working Remotely

With remote workers reaching unprecedented levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening Wi-Fi access points and the devices that access them is becoming a necessity. Unfortunately, very little thought has been given to Wi-Fi in the security landscape leaving many people vulnerable to hackers. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people were using public Wi-Fi for collaborating with co-workers, outside suppliers and customers, along with friends. What made public Wi-Fi so useful was that it was widely available and, more importantly, free. As of last year, there were a total of 362 million public Wi-Fi hotspots available around the globe.

Know the types of Wi-Fi attacks to watch out for.

Man-in-the-middle

The most often used attack for WIFI is called Man-in-the-middle. Hackers use Man-in-the-middle to intercept data packets as they travel from the person’s computer to the WIFI network. Think of this as cyber-eaves dropping. The hacker has access to your files and can view your messages. For a man-in-the-middle attack to work, the hacker needs to be in the range of an unencrypted WIFI access point. Or has set up a rogue WIFI access point that the unsuspecting person signs in on.

Evil Twin

Do you ever go into a Starbucks to work? You check for free WIFI, and you see two Starbucks access points available. You don’t give it a second thought and click on the wrong one. Well, that’s an Evil Twin situation, were the access point that looks legitimate, but isn’t.

One of the more famous Evil Twin attacks happened during the 2016 Republican National Convention, where 1,200 attendees connected to the IVOTETRUMP! Hotspot.

AirCrack, Passive Sniffing, Cowpathy and many more…

To prevent remote workers from these types of attack methods, what’s needed is to look at security more holistically. Many people, especially during this unique time, are unaware of the risks of using unsecured Wi-Fi. The organizations that these people work for also fail to take the proper precautions to protect remote workers wherever they are located and the data they access.

Ways to Protect Your Data

  • VPN
  • Secured Wi-Fi As-a-Service
  • Endpoint Protection
  • Firewalls (Virtual / Physical)
  • SIEM (Security Information & Event Management)

Organizations need to think of the whole picture instead of letting their deployed devices out in the wild. Data should be protected behind a Firewall, the devices accessing the data should be monitored and protected with endpoint protection. Instead of installing an access point and walking away, think of WIFI-as-a-Service, that includes a wireless access point but does much more such as advanced security information and event analysis, real live threat detection and remediation.

Each step taken builds upon your organization’s security posture and keeps both your users and your data safe and secure.

Rise in Remote Work Targeted Attacks

Rise in Remote Work Targeted Attacks

Google released a stat this week that 39% of its workforce is away from its various offices in the U.S. In Canada, its 44%. Also, this week, research firm Gartner Inc. reported that 88% of organizations have set up some work from home program.

Many organizations had little or no plans for securing these workers at home previous to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created an opportunity for threat actors to target these people. Most of these individuals are focused on trying to be productive, while self-isolating to remain safe and healthy. For many, this new work-at-home reality has been challenging. The hacker community is taking advantage of this crisis to target vulnerable people who have their minds distracted by things at home.

Hackers are finding success using hidden mobile apps and unique distribution methods, according to the latest McAfee Mobile Threat Report 2020. The report found that mobile apps, third-party login and counterfeit gaming videos are the tools hackers are using to lure remote workers. Approximately 50% of all malicious threats were as a result of hidden mobile apps.

Terry Hicks, the executive vice president of McAfee’s Consumer Business Group, said mobile threats are playing a game of ‘hide and seek.’ McAfee has uncovered that hackers have expanded the ways of hiding their attacks, making them increasingly difficult to identify and remove, which makes it seem like 2020 will be the year of attacks from places organizations least expect them.

McAfee’s research found that hidden apps are the most active mobile threat, generating nearly 50% of all malicious activities. Hackers continue to target people through channels that they spend the most time on— their devices, as the average person globally is expected to own 15 connected devices by 2030. Hidden apps take advantage of unsuspecting individuals in multiple ways, including taking advantage of third-party login services or serving unwanted ads. Here are a few examples.

Malicious Apps

Remote workers who are learning how to work from home are dealing with gaps in there day that they occupy by playing games and seeking other multimedia experiences. Hackers are taking advantage of this by distributing malicious apps through links in gamer chat apps and cheat videos by creating their content containing links to fake apps. These apps disguise themselves as real with icons that closely simulate the actual apps but serve unwanted ads and collect user data. McAfee researchers uncovered apps such as FaceApp, Spotify, and Call of Duty all have fake versions trying to prey on unsuspecting users.

New Mobile Malware

McAfee researchers have also discovered new mobile malware called LeifAccess, also known as Shopper. This malware takes advantage of the accessibility features in Android to create accounts, download apps, and post reviews using names and emails configured on the victim’s device. McAfee researchers observed apps based on LeifAccess being distributed through social media, gaming platforms, malvertising, and gamer chat apps. Fake warnings are used to get the user to activate accessibility services, enabling the full range of the malware’s capabilities.

Legitimate Apps Used by Hackers

There are also legitimate apps aimed at stealing data used by Hackers. McAfee researchers found that a series of South Korean transit apps were compromised with a fake library and plugin that could exfiltrate confidential files called MalBus. The attack was hidden in a legitimate South Korean transit app by hacking the original developer’s Google Play account. The series provides a range of information for each region of South Korea, such as bus stop locations, route maps, and schedule times for more than five years. MalBus represents a different attack method as hackers went after the account of a legitimate developer of a popular app with a solid reputation.

What’s clear is that with so many more remote workers in play, hackers will have a bigger pool of people to target, which is why a comprehensive suite of security, backup, and management solutions for those who use Office 365 is an excellent route to protecting these users.

During this time of COVID-19, people need to protect their email with powerful tools that can scan the email tenant for phishing and malware. Not only do they need tools to look for the usual suspects but also advanced AI systems and tools such as a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) system. These tools find suspicious or malicious events and have an extra layer of security by having real human beings that can take action and remediate potential security threats.Services such as Secure IT – Mail are able to fulfil the needs of keeping users secure while working remote.

5 Productivity Tips for Working at Home

5 Productivity Tips for Working at Home

The current COVID-19 situation has led to a lot of organizations to shift their entire workforce to work remotely. For some organizations, this means that employees may be working remotely for the first time. Working remotely changes the way teams interact and work together and staying productive can be difficult in these circumstances. Here are five best practices for keeping teams on task and fostering collaboration as teams work remotely.

1. Use A Reliable Platform

Solely relying on email to communicate with your remote workforce is ineffective. Users may receive many emails per day and miss important messages. Being able to communicate via web chat, phone call or video conferencing makes it easier and faster for users to talk to one another. It also allows users to easily share documents/their work and receive feedback in real-time.

2. Meet Regularly

Staying connected with employees is essential, especially if your team usually sees each other every day. Scheduling meetings (via video call or phone chat) to communicate throughout the day is a great way to stay engaged and keep one another updated on completed/ongoing tasks and goals.

3. Support Employees

Employees who are not used to working remotely may be struggling with the shift. The added social isolation and overarching health concern may also cause employees additional stress or anxiety. It’s important to check in with employees, listen to their concerns and empathize with their situations. If your organization offers an employee assistance program (EAP), remind employees that they have access to this additional support.

4. Stay Accessible

When working apart, users will need to communicate with one another more often. Unlike an office setting where employees can pop by your desk/office, employees have no idea whether you’re out to lunch or in a meeting. Leaving your calendar open or having a status notification displayed will inform employees of your availability. That way, they know if you’re too busy to respond to their query.

5. Prioritize Tasks

Help employees focus on their initiatives by providing direction on how they should engage with their current priorities. Discuss with each team member individually on where each person should direct their focus and ensure they know which tasks should be a priority. If you can narrow down their tasks, they will feel less overwhelmed and be able to direct their attention to the most critical projects.

For more tips and resources, we’ll be releasing our resource center soon!

Working Remotely and Staying Secure During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Working Remotely and Staying Secure During the COVID-19 Outbreak

As the threat of COVID-19 continues to spread, many businesses are having employees work remotely. The rise of online working means that an organization’s attack surface will be more spread out. Employees may not have the same protections installed on their personal devices at home as they do on their workstations in the office. Without proper security precautions in place, users increase their risk to cyber threats like malware and phishing. It’s important to remind employees that although they may be working from home, they are still expected to engage in safe cyber habits and safeguard corporate data.

Attacks are Increasing

Cybercriminals are exploiting people’s fears by sending phishing emails about COVID-19. These emails impersonate official health departments and claim to have new information/updates about the virus. They are designed with the hopes of tricking users into downloading malicious attachments or giving up personal information. In one other instance, cybercriminals duped a popular interactive world map that displayed confirmed cases of COVID-19 to spread malware.

People who aren’t used to working at home can get distracted, especially if they are accustomed to going into an office everyday to work. They may mix personal browsing with their work and encounter cyber scams related to COVID-19. In their distraction, they may accidentally click on malicious links. Users may also feel safer while working at home and let their guard down when it comes to working online. They can forget to engage in simple cyber safe behaviours like locking their computer or double-checking URLs before they click on them.

The Security Challenges of Remote Working

Working remotely can create a lot of security challenges for organizations. Users who are not prepared to work remotely may have to use their personal devices to access corporate material. These devices may not be secured or have the latest updates installed. Users can end up engaging with malicious websites that would usually be blocked by an organization’s firewall or leave their devices open to vulnerabilities.

Users working from home may also be connected to networks that are not secured. Although users may not be working from public spaces (with public WiFi) during this time, home networks may not be properly secured either. Furthermore, employees may have insecure IoT devices (such as lights, refrigerators, etc.) connected to the home network. Each of these devices could be a potential entry point for hackers. 

What You Can Do

Inform and Update Employees

Many people are stressed out and worried about how COVID-19 will affect them. Keep your employees informed about how their work is being impacted by the current outbreak and provide them with links to official sources (government, WHO, etc.) to ensure that they can keep themselves informed safely.

Reiterate Good Cybersecurity Practices

Awareness is the only way to combat phishing and social engineering scams. Employees must understand that they still have a responsibility to keep company data safe even though they are working from home. Remind employees to be careful of suspicious emails, especially those claiming to be about the virus. If they receive any suspicious emails, employees should disregard them and not engage. Encourage employees to not click on any links or download any attachments. They should always double check sender email addresses and any URLs they may encounter.

Issue Corporate Devices

To ensure employees have access to necessary resources required for their work, employees should be given company issued devices. This will make it easier for your organization to manage and monitor your remote systems and ensure that company data is separate from a user’s personal data. It will also ensure that all devices have security tools installed (e.g. anti-virus, encryption tools, etc.).

Use a VPN

A VPN will provide employees with a secure connection to your organization’s network. All employees should use a VPN to access company resources, especially if they are using personal devices. Ensure that your VPN is set up to support your entire remote workforce and that it is up to date.

Our Support IT platform can assist your organization in providing employees secure remote access to essential tools and systems. For more information on how Jolera can help with your remote working environment, contact us today.