We have been hearing a lot lately about the impact of COVID-19 and how it has altered the way businesses are working. Not to mention the rising need for cloud and network security with an increase in cloud and SaaS adoption. Perhaps, the need of the hour is to focus on restating the practices we have been stringing along for quite some time now. With the new distributed way of working, organizations are incorporating new policies and practices.

Is our work culture shifting in the light of COVID-19?

The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic is palpable. People are adopting an innovative, agile, and sustainable way of working, enforced by the pandemic. But, the upshot of this new reality is predicted to be highly beneficial by some.

According to a recent by Forrester, 52% respondents said that they would prefer working from home while 42% said they can’t wait to rejoin office post-pandemic. In the same survey, 72% respondents attributed the disruption in their work life to Coronavirus, while 41% said they are afraid to go to work due to the risk of exposure.

Global researcher Gartner surveyed CFOs and 74% responded stating their employees will continue working remotely even after the pandemic, while some may work from home permanently after COVID-19 ends. All in all, this new way of working is here to stay for a longer time.

Why do we need new guidelines for network security?

Though Work from Home (WFH) is becoming the new culture, not everything is breezy while working from home. A study by Neustar International Security Council (NISC) says that 86% of U.S. and European companies are suffering from network security disruptions while working remotely. The major cause of the increase in network security issues is the under-preparedness of organizations to manage an increased force of distributed teams.

Re-stating the rules for a smooth and secure functioning of new-age organizations is becoming critical. The changing work culture has created the need for newer policies. Let’s first understand the types of network security threats and then take a look at the guidelines to avoid security breaches.

Increasing network security risks during a pandemic

A rise in security hazards has been observed since the past two months of global lockdown. A latest NISC study on increased network security disruptions has reported 64% of businesses experiencing some sort of moderate disruptions, and 23% reported experiencing major disruptions in their network. The top reasons for network security risks are:

  1. Home Wi-Fi Security: End devices are vulnerable to attackers if connected to a Wi-Fi source outside of the enterprise network. Wi-Fi used at home has weak protocols, making it easier for attackers to access the network traffic.
  2. Outdated Software: Software that is not updated and patched on time can leave the doors open to hackers and attackers.
  3. Phishing scams: Increase in phishing emails is being observed since the lockdown. These phishing scams include malicious attachments and links that attackers send through emails or pop-ups. If we click on these links, attackers can easily access the device and through the device, the enterprise
  4. Insecure passwords: Unencrypted and simple passwords are very easy to crack for attackers. Attackers can gain unauthorized access to the networks and eventually, to critical

Network security guidelines to consider

To ensure that your network and devices remain secure while working in distributed teams remotely, consider the following guidelines to avoid any attacks and breaches:

  1. Enable 2-factor authentication: This ensures authentic access to a It requires a 2-step verification of the person trying to access the network.
  2. Set up automatic updates for devices: This ensures regular and timely updates of installed devices such as a modems, routers, switches, etc.
  3. Adopt a Unified Threat Management (UTM) system: It is a simplified and integrated cloud service for protection against security threats.
  4. Network security automation: This increases the scope for security engineers to focus on designing and implementing better security strategies.
  5. Network access control (NAC) mechanism: It includes a set of protocols to define the network access security policy.
  6. Move to WPA3: This latest and new version of Wi-Fi contains improved authentication and encryption protocols.
  7. Built-in VPN: It helps in encrypting the traffic from the network devices to the VPN provider.
  8. Built-in Firewall: This is essential to protect the internal network from being accessed by unnecessary traffic.
  9. Guest Network: A separate instance for untrusted devices can save the network from unnecessary intrusions.

This is a time to brace for the new challenges coming in subsequent years. It’s a good time to check the readiness of the organization for any kind of emergencies related to security and implement new processes to ensure end-to-end security.

Take a quick look at this eBrief on Endpoint Security Automation & Covid-19 Pandemic encompassing the components of entry points, types of endpoint security solutions, need for automation, and the COVID-19 effect on endpoints in business operations.