Remote work – working from home or any other location – is a megatrend. Digitalisation has created the technical basis for this trend, enabling companies to send large parts of their workforce home within a very short time after the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic. Millions of people have since been able to do their work productively and comfortably from their own homes.
Employees as well as companies, service providers and customers appreciate the advantages of remote working today: Longer distances are no longer necessary, communication is established quickly and directly via audio or video call, fewer interruptions promote productive work, and so on. And so, it is foreseeable that the trend towards remote working will continue. The market research company IDC predicts that around 93.5 million people will be working remotely in 2024 – up from 78.5 million in 2020.
Cyber criminals increasingly target mobile devices
But as many benefits as remote work brings, how can it be made safe? Remote work is inextricably linked to mobile devices – from laptops to smartphones – through which employees access the corporate network and company data. “Secure use of mobile devices requires a mobile device management (MDM) solution that offers full control, great flexibility and absolute security,” says Sahin Tugcular, CEO at unified endpoint management specialist AppTec.
According to the “Mobile Security Report 2021” by the security specialist Checkpoint, cyber criminals are increasingly spreading ransomware – extortion software that primarily locks up PCs in order to subsequently extort ransom money from the victims – specifically in the direction of mobile devices. Many people still remember the Lucy attack in April 2020 – a cloud-based malware that targeted Android smartphones.
Avoid security vulnerabilities from the start
“Attackers rely on security gaps in the corporate network,” explains Sahin Tugcular. “Such gaps must be avoided from the outset by running through and securing all possible scenarios.” Tugcular therefore recommends that companies check before deploying a mobile device management solution:
– What happens in the event of a device loss? Can the MDM be used to reliably block access to the device?
– Can data be selectively deleted, for example when an employee leaves the company, in order to protect the company’s vital security interest?
– Are security-relevant device configurations carried out automatically and thus reliably?
– Are accesses to company data secured by certificates to verify the identity of the user?
Take a systematic approach to security
But a secure remote working environment is not just about choosing the right MDM software. “To counter cyber-attacks at an early stage, organisations should take a systematic approach to security,” advises Tugcular. Companies should use the various levers to keep the attack surface for cyber criminals as small as possible:
– For example, is it advisable in less tech-savvy professions – such as in the care sector – to restrict mobile devices to a purpose-bound work mode (kiosk mode)?
– Or should surfing the internet be restricted by whitelisting/blacklisting URLs and applications?
– Do employees use their own devices for business purposes (BYOD) and should mobile access to sensitive data via these devices be secured – for example with Dual Persona for the secure separation of private data and business data?
– Is it necessary to protect sensitive company data specifically with DLP (Data Loss Prevention) functionalities in case of device loss?
“Different security scenarios come into play in every company,” says Tugcular. “Companies should therefore think about the security measures required for their mobile working environment when setting it up. AppTec advises companies on how to set up a secure working environment for remote working. “We not only support our customers with excellent unified endpoint management solutions, but also show them ways to optimally implement the specific security requirements of each customer.”
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