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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Guest Blog: Sharing the burden of secure remote working

9 April 2021 by Guest

This guest post was authored by UKFast Head of Security and Compliance, Stephen Crow.

The rapid shift to home working has left many SMEs at risk of rising security debt.

As cybercriminals rushed to take advantage of widening security vulnerabilities, many businesses experienced a spike in phishing scams and other social engineering attacks. Overall, there’s been a 31% increase in cybercrime since the start of the pandemic.

It’s not rocket science that home WiFi networks are less secure than business ones, but the adoption of multiple personal devices for work – paired with the need (and now desire) to work remotely –  has expanded the border of the network and increased complexity for IT teams needing to secure it.

So, how can you stay on top of increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks, patch the holes exposed by remote working, and keep your organisation operating as efficiently as possible? 

In this blog I’ll try to answer those questions.

Exploring why you should be thinking more strategically about business security in 2021, and how UKFast can act as an extension of your existing IT team during the process, will help you make informed decisions about: how to plug historic vulnerabilities, the best infrastructure to secure your network, and how to reduce your security debt long term with real-time threat monitoring. 

Identify how hackable your business is

A pivotal first question in understanding the scale of the security challenge that lies ahead of you is ‘how hackable is your business?’ If the answer is ‘I don’t know’, you’re not alone.

Many organisations simply can’t tell how exposed to threats they are, or the potential cost of a security breach to their business. But it’s safe to assume the cost will be high. In fact, Capita estimates it to be over £3 million if you take into account the costs accrued to re-secure your network following a breach and the impact of that breach on your brand. 

With an increasingly remote workforce, assessing the impact of a security breach – and the most likely entry points for hackers –  is extremely difficult, especially if you don’t have access to the right tools. That’s where we come in.

Our teams are put through their paces frequently, replicating malicious attacks on networks to break and test systems to ensure we stay ahead of potential threats. The best way to identify weaknesses in your IT infrastructure is to think like a hacker, so that’s exactly what we do, just like this:  

  • We find where vulnerabilities exist in your network
  • We identify how they can be exploited
  • We calculate the cost to the business of such a compromise
  • We remediate and resolve them

Get the right infrastructure in place to reach your business goals

Once you’ve identified historic vulnerabilities and patched them, you need to put the right infrastructure in place to keep your network secure longer term. There are lots of tools available to help you do this, but without the right expertise the choice can seem overwhelming.

VPNs for example help tackle the exposure  of the connectivity between your home networks and the corporate network by securing the connection linking the two. But, they can be difficult to configure and throttled connectivity makes it hard for employees to collaborate remotely – particularly if working on large files. 

Endpoint security tools help you secure individual devices and manage things like information creep, but you have to be confident your employees follow corporate policy and refrain from using personal cloud storage accounts.

Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all approach to securing your infrastructure, and that’s why we work with our customers – as an extension of their in-house IT team – to assess their security needs and design a bespoke strategy. 

This involves asking questions such as, ‘Do you know every internet facing device in your infrastructure?’ and, ‘Do you have a zero trust model in place for your devices?’, so we can understand the needs of the business, alongside the daily expectations of your employees. This exercise enables us to make informed recommendations about which tailored security solutions will help you achieve your business goals.

Monitor and patch threats in real time

Once you’ve got the right infrastructure in place, you need to regulate your security, making sure vulnerabilities are patched in real-time to avoid your security debt rising again. Fail to do that, and it’s like having an expensive car but ignoring the engine warning light when it flashes up: something will go wrong. 

While this might sound like an easy task, there is a lot involved. You need to make sure you’re installing the latest security updates, stop using software that is end of life, and prioritise which vulnerabilities to patch. All vulnerabilities are ranked by a Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) that lets you know how critical the vulnerability is. As a business you should assess each weak spot yourself, but keep in mind that just because it might have a lower CVSS score, it does not mean you’re at less risk. 

You need to do all of this while keeping on top of the day-to-day IT needs of the business, and monitoring the advancement of cyber attacks on your organisation. 

Just like you need a team of specialist mechanics to look after your car and keep things safe, the same goes for your IT security. At UKFast we become an extension of your team with experts on hand to ensure your team can work from anywhere they want, without putting your security at risk. Our managed service offering comes with reporting and alerts built-in, so you’re aware of issues in real-time, with peace of mind that problems will be patched and resolved as soon as they need to be. 

Want to find out how secure your business is? Contact us to find out how UKFast can help you build a more secure infrastructure.

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