Mobile Security for Remote Teams

Haseeb Awan
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April 18, 2023

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What is "security," and how do I "keep myself secure"?

Information security safeguards information and information systems from unwanted access, disclosure, usage, modification, disruption, or destruction.

There is nothing like 100 percent security; however, "being secure" means taking appropriate security measures.

When you say that your work environment is secure, you have taken reasonable measures to protect the data, code, or other confidential information in your care and ensured its integrity. In addition, you have ensured that your privileges to access sensitive information systems will not use by yourself or an unauthorized individual in a manner that is detrimental to the goals of the organization that owns these systems and these systems.

In a remote team, there is a far greater attack surface than in a centralized one. The only way to protect confidential information in a centralized team is to lock firewalls and company workstations physically. Still, you are encouraged or even required to do BYOD in a remote setting. As a result, you are far more susceptible to social engineering and identity theft because your communications had conducted online. Nevertheless, implementing the proper security measures may significantly reduce the risk of a breach.

There are many security solutions. It is up to you to choose how far you desire to go in terms of security, but keep in mind that your security strategy had limited by the security of your team's weakest member. We'll examine some of the most common security issues, discuss security measures to defend against them, and finally offer a sample remote security worker policy.

Mobile Security: What Does It Mean?

Mobile security, generally known as wireless protection, involves the measures and regulations put in place by a business to shield sensitive and crucial data and information on any handheld device. Such as tablets, laptops, smartphones, and the networks they link to, from security loopholes and digital threats.

Why is Mobile Security Important for Remote Teams?

The proliferation of cell phones and the evolving way remote personnel uses them has made it essential for organizations to guarantee the security of these handhelds. That is especially true for companies where employee-owned devices link to the corporate network in an unprotected way.

With the increasing presence of corporate information on personal devices, hackers have become more drawn to attacking mobile devices and server-side systems. Mobility solutions like mobile device management allow IT, teams to establish their regulations for BYOD and proactively enforce predetermined sets of protocols. The consequences of security breaches can be very harmful to companies, as they may lead to disruption of IT operations and a decrease in productivity if the systems become inoperable. Therefore, being proactive and taking preventive measures is essential.

The Three Most Common Types of Adversarial Attacks

Preparing for whatever situation you face is essential, so ensure you know what it is. Most adversaries use three primary strategies in their attacks. This list is not comprehensive, but these are three of the most prevalent attack vectors hackers might use.

  • Social Engineering
  • Phishing
  • Malware Infections

Social Engineering

Human hacking, otherwise known as social engineering, involves influencing people to make decisions that are not to their benefit. It could involve divulging private data. Social engineering assaults can take advantage of one's sympathy to persuade one to ignore security measures, or they could create a sense of panic and worry that one will suffer a penalty if they do not obey.

Phishing

Phishing is the most prevalent technique employed to obtain someone's login details. Suppose you come across a webpage that appears identical to Facebook, and you enter your information, believing it to be an authentic website. Phishing is when a perpetrator creates a website that seems authentic but is fraudulent.

Cybercriminals can occasionally corrupt your web connection and insert their website into the Facebook domain, known as a Man in The Middle assault. However, your web browser can alert you to these types of threats.

Spear phishing is another type of attack where the malicious page is created specifically for the intended target. This type of phishing is hazardous when coupled with social engineering techniques, as it increases the chances of the victim succumbing to the scam.

Malware Infection

Malware infection is one of the most dangerous and devastating threats to the security of any computer system. Malware is malicious software designed to gain access, disrupt, or damage a computer without the user's knowledge or consent. It used to steal data, spread spam, and even hijack entire systems. As our lives shift online is increasing, the threat of malware infection is becoming more accurate. Unfortunately, it's often difficult to detect until it's too late. That's why taking the necessary steps to protect yourself is essential. Install anti-malware software, update your system regularly, and be aware of suspicious emails or downloads. With the proper precautions, you can stay safe from malware infection and secure your data.

It is crucial to be conscious of the different kinds of malicious software that exist, including:

Spyware

Spyware is malicious software designed to monitor and collect data from a user's computer or mobile device. Hackers can use it to steal passwords, track keystrokes, capture screenshots, and even record audio and video. Spyware can install without the user's knowledge, and once it's in place, it can be challenging to detect and remove. That makes it a dangerous tool for cybercriminals looking to obtain access to confidential data or take control of a user's device. It can also be used for corporate espionage, tracking employee activity, and gathering confidential information. To protect yourself from spyware, ensure you have up-to-date anti-malware software installed on your computer or phone. Additionally, be aware of what you download and be cautious when installing software from unknown sources. By following these steps, you can ensure you stay safe from the dangers of spyware.

Remote Administration Tools (RATs)

Remote Administration Tools (RATs) have become a popular tool for hackers and malicious actors. RATs are used to gain control of computers from anywhere in the world, allowing hackers to access sensitive data, install malicious software, and carry out other malicious activities. RATs can also spy on users by accessing their webcams and microphones, making them a potent privacy threat. RATs are often disguised as legitimate software, making them difficult to detect. As a result, users need to be mindful of the risks posed by RATs and take steps to protect themselves. It includes keeping their operating systems and software up to date and avoiding downloading suspicious software or links. In addition, users should be wary of any suspicious emails or web pages, as these use to deliver RATs to unsuspecting victims. By taking these simple steps, users can protect themselves from the dangers of Remote Administration Tools.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a malicious program designed to lock users out of their computers or devices until they pay the ransom. It encrypts or locks files and then demands payment for the decryption key. Once ransomware installs, it can be difficult or impossible to remove. That's why it's so important to take measures to prevent a ransomware attack from occurring in the first place. Practicing good cyber security habits, such as regularly backing up data, keeping systems and software up-to-date, and not opening suspicious emails or downloading unknown files, are essential to protecting against ransomware. It's also vital to have anti-malware and anti-virus software installed on all computers and devices. If a ransomware attack does occur, victims should not pay the ransom and should contact a professional to help remove the malicious code. It's also important to inform the authorities so they can investigate and help prevent future attacks from taking place. While ransomware can be a daunting threat, you can protect yourself and your data from harm by taking the proper precautions.

What Are the Processes for Ensuring the Security of Mobile Devices for Remote Teams?

It is necessary to incorporate multiple levels of protection and corporate solutions to ensure the security of all mobile and handheld devices used by employees in remote work settings. Each business should decide which options are most suitable for its networks. To begin, here are some valuable tips to keep in mind:

Educate Employees

When managing a remote workforce, it's vital to ensure that employees understand data security protocols. Though they may think they have experienced preventive measures for being online, they may need to catch up on safeguarding their identity and corporate information. CNBC recently released a survey highlighting employee carelessness as the primary source of security breaches for businesses in the United States. Therefore, it's more helpful to build a data security team and a guide for remote personnel than to suffer the consequences of not doing so.

According to a study, an alarming 28% of remote employees do not use basic safety precautions like a password or lock screen on their phones that contain work-related documents. Additionally, many remote workers are utilizing unprotected network terminals to access their remote workspace, thus making it a susceptible primary station.

Companies should host instructional meetings with their remote employees to highlight the significance of noticing and reacting to suspicious messages and web links, generating secure passwords, and being aware of the perils of open Wi-Fi systems. By providing education on information security to remote workers, organizations can guarantee that they are taking the essential steps to secure confidential and sensitive business data rather than solely relying on the business itself.

Develop a BYOD Device and Work-from-home Policy.

Since the new work-from-home culture is likely to be a long-term trend, organizations must have a clear and written policy for working remotely and BYOD. The IT department should create this policy. It should provide guidelines for adequately using company-owned devices when employees access the corporate network, email, or any related data. Each employee should sign off on this policy.

A "governance model" or mobile policy is a set of regulations that outlines the regulations concerning the use of a mobile device remotely. An effective security protocol will inform employees about remote mobile device users' potential risks and benefits. Without the necessary safety measures, unauthorized access to a customer's confidential data can lead to a disastrous outcome for all involved.

It should include, at a minimum, the following:

  • Any hardware or equipment utilized to gain access to company or customer information must equip with the latest security updates, programs, applications, and firewalls.
  • It is essential to ensure the firewalls are functioning correctly and in use.
  • Employees should refrain from utilizing their gadgets for any action not related to work, for example, using social media, messaging, making purchases, or checking private emails.
  • Refrain from interacting with any link or attachment that appears to be a possible Phishing scam.
  • Make sure to alert IT personnel if anything appears dubious or if any problems arise that may suggest a violation has taken place.

The points above are just a few components that you should integrate into your WFH/BYOD policy; however, you and your CIO and IT personnel should modify the policy to meet your business's needs better.

Use Strong Passwords

A shocking number of people around the world are not taking passwords seriously. According to research from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the top ten passwords are shockingly basic and include "qwerty," "123456," "111111," and the mortifying "password." Having passwords that are not firmly protected puts organizations at high risk, especially when people are working remotely.

It is necessary to ensure data security when working remotely, which largely depends on having solid and impenetrable passwords. Remote workers can create robust passwords by utilizing a password generator. Additionally, changing passwords routinely and using different passwords for various platforms can reduce the risk of a data breach.

To reduce the danger of cyber threats while working from home, organizations and their employees can use a web-based password manager that creates random, encrypted access codes while protecting the master passwords. There is no need for remote workers to remember various logins for each system, thus keeping confidential business data secure.

Fortify IT Infrastructure

Whenever employees are accessing corporate information away from the office, it is essential to strengthening your network with various control mechanisms. These can guarantee that only approved personnel with the proper equipment may enter the system. Additionally, IT personnel must keep track of who is entering the system and at what time. Pay attention to any untoward access by observing which device links to the network, when, and if there are any suspicious signs or rough usage.

Apply Two-factor Authentication

Many businesses employ two-factor authentication (2FA) to help protect corporate networks from cyber threats. This process involves verifying the legitimacy of the user by asking for their username and password in combination with an extra item of information. Such as a one-time code sent to their cell phone or a response to a secret question. Mobile security and preventing unauthorized access to the system rely on successfully identifying the legitimate user.

Although it is possible for the credentials of the people using the system to be obtained by unauthorized individuals, two-factor authentication (2FA) reduces the likelihood that the answer to the secret security question or the one-time password will be accessible to malicious actors. In this digital age, where user names and passwords are no longer enough, adding an extra security layer to the user authentication process brings more assurance to remote workers and their companies. Hackers and other wrongdoers are discouraged by two-factor authentication, so it recommends that businesses implement such a security measure.

Use a Virtual Private Network

Some remote staff switches up their working environment by heading to cafes or eateries occasionally. You could expose confidential records and important data by accessing an unprotected public Wi-Fi connection. Companies don't want to give their employees the sense that they are limited when working in a spot that encourages and energizes them. Therefore, those organizations must guarantee their employees are connecting to the corporate network with a virtual private network (VPN).

Software known as a virtual private network (VPN) ensures data sent over the internet is safe and secure. Whenever someone works remotely and needs to access a public Wi-Fi network, they should turn on the VPN to encrypt their data traffic and protect against malicious programs. It helps remote workers to protect their activities and confidential data from being seen by unauthorized people when they use a public or unguarded Wi-Fi network.

To Secure Employees' Computers and Mobile Devices.

Any equipment loaned to staff for remote work, or any remote device an employee plans to use for professional duties, should also be reinforced. All remote gadgets in the hands of staff should have a Mobile Device Management program. An MDM system permits a company's IT and security division to oversee any device connecting remotely to the network. It doesn't matter what type of OS the device is running. The MDM can also securely provide remote devices with access to secure VPNs, password-protected programs, emails, network data, and more without having access to the entire system.

Use Encryption Software

Employers and their remote employees can reinforce mobile security by utilizing encryption applications. It can be the transformation of data into a code that someone with the key can only unlock. Encryption software provides an extra layer of safety for businesses and remote workers. For example, suppose a remote worker's device, like a laptop or mobile, is lost or misplaced. In that case, encryption software is the initial step of protection against a malicious individual who obtains the device.

Moreover, any programs that store corporate information, communication applications, or emails companies use should have end-to-end encryption to prevent unauthorized data disclosure. For example, programs such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat allow your remote employees to encrypt the documents they share with coworkers quickly.

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Haseeb Awan
CEO, Efani Secure Mobile

I founded Efani after being Sim Swapped 4 times. I am an experienced CEO with a demonstrated history of working in the crypto and cybersecurity industry. I provide Secure Mobile Service for influential people to protect them against SIM Swaps, eavesdropping, location tracking, and other mobile security threats. I've been covered in New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Hulu, Nasdaq, Netflix, Techcrunch, Coindesk, etc. Contact me at 855-55-EFANI or haseebawan@efani.com for a confidential assessment to see if we're the right fit!

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