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After almost two years of COVID-19, the world of work is slowly adapting to a ‘hybrid’ work setting, writes Steve Hamilton, pictured, VP for Northern Europe at the cyber firm Tanium.
With this transition, companies need to make cybersecurity a priority. The continuation of remote working means that employees are often connecting to networks from their own devices, which usually have less security in place compared to company devices which come with safeguarding measures such as firewalls, blacklisted IP addresses et cetera. This means that IT teams are facing the challenge of trying to protect improperly secured devices in employee homes, which increases the chances of unpatched vulnerabilities being exploited.
Devices that employees use daily from home, represent a critical intersection of users, data and networks — making them an attractive target for cyber attackers. Organisations need to act now to improve their cybersecurity and a key part of the solution involves cyber hygiene.
Prior to home working becoming the norm, many IT teams would use traditional endpoint management as part of their cyber hygiene program. However, as organisations adapt to a hybrid working arrangement, various components of their IT infrastructure, including the number of endpoints, is likely to change. Traditional security tools are simply not fast or reliable enough to secure these additional endpoint devices — often taking days or months to diagnose a breach, leaving networks vulnerable. As a result, legacy tools and infrastructure, which deliver static, moment-in-time endpoint data views, are outdated in today’s fast-changing technology world.
Another complexity that comes from allowing employees to use any device, from any location, is that IT teams don’t have the same visibility and protection as they do in an office. They should have clear visibility across an organisation. This includes IT teams being able to oversee a complete asset inventory and have a full understanding of how their assets are used, and the associated vulnerabilities.
Recent security incidents like SolarWinds, where legacy endpoint protection platforms were successfully bypassed, have highlighted that businesses cannot rely on EDR/EPP (endpoint detection and response/endpoint protection platforms) capabilities as their only solution. Legacy and outdated systems often can’t protect against multi-layered attacks, and organisations must bring their equipment up to task if they are to operate safely.
IT teams can achieve their security goals and more by adopting a platform that bridges the gap between operations and provides a unified view of endpoints across the enterprise. Platform strategies provide real-time visibility and control across enterprises — which grant continual visibility and control of the most critical cyber assets. Through providing visibility and control in real-time, across all enterprise-connected devices, IT teams can monitor unfiltered behaviour, identify vulnerabilities, and visualise lateral movements.
Organisations can also leverage a platform strategy to conduct risk prioritisation and remediation — to identify and address vulnerabilities that pose the highest threat. By using risk analysis, organisations of all sizes can take a proactive, data-driven, and continuous approach to managing exposure in IT.
After the pandemic hit, business leaders rapidly shifted their employees to remote work— which created disrupted workforces. At the time, many business leaders didn’t factor in the lack of security protection that was provided for remote working — which caused an array of problems. Effective cybersecurity starts with a commitment to stronger cyber hygiene— which starts at the endpoint, and a platform strategy that enables real-time and enterprise-wide visibility. By taking a proactive and continuous approach to assessing and managing exposure, IT teams can protect devices and give immediate attention to exposed endpoints. Not only will this approach help to reduce risk, it will improve security across the entire organisation — which is crucial for a hybrid working future.