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COVID-19 and Best Practices for Remote Access

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The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, otherwise called the coronavirus, has caused a major disruption in the procurement of various industrial resources worldwide. Automakers Tesla and G.M. and Aerospace companies Airbus and Boeing both have closed locks while Apple announced it could lose its quarterly revenue numbers, all due to coronavirus.

COVID-19 has also led major global employers, including technology companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter, demanding that their employees and third-party contractors work from home.

Secure Remote Access

Today, about 43% of all U.S. employees work off-site at least part-time, according to a report by Gallup’s United States of American Workplace. Research also shows that employees believe that working remotely is not a barrier to productivity and that most Americans feel that remote workers are just as productive as office workers.

With companies now using more remote work due to the threat of coronavirus, cybersecurity has become a major problem as organizations have to protect their employees, third parties and contractors, digital assets, and customer data against not only biological viruses but also cybercriminals.

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Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, and Coronavirus

In response to problems such as coronavirus, organizations should have simultaneously developed I.T. disaster recovery programs and business continuity plans. This includes business priorities and timelines for I.T. resource recovery and business impact analysis. Recovery technologies should also be developed to restore hardware, applications and data in a timely manner to meet business recovery requirements in the event of a complete failure.

Remote security also plays a vital role in considering disaster recovery and business continuity as organizations need to be flexible enough to perform long-term work for all of their employees while still receiving normal employee productivity without external disruption.

Coronavirus, a problematic biological event, has constrained organizations to relocate their staff and I.T. resources to work more efficiently at home or in a safe environment.

Financial institutions have installed screens in the homes of security vendors to help reduce and prevent new coronavirus infections through staff segregation. And while investment banks, engineers, I.T. staff, employees, and senior executives can work from home, employees such as traders or retailers who have to meet legal requirements face technical limitations that need to be addressed.

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Barclay’s business continuity plans all demand the segregation and protection of workers in Asian countries at the coronavirus outbreak center. “We’re getting used to it,” said a senior official at one of the largest U.S. banks. You wouldn’t want to wake up and find out that the U.S. has half a million charges and someone tells you to send everyone home.”

Now, to prevent bank employees from being isolated from the rest of the world due to coronavirus, financial institutions are looking to distribute staff between headquarters and disaster recovery centers with the same technical capabilities as their main areas, according to the Financial Times.

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How to Use Safe Remote Access

Many organizations allow their employees, contractors, business partners, and vendors to use corporate remote technology to operate remotely for non-corporate use and bring your device’s client (BYOD) devices to be protected from data breaches and theft. Security concerns include unprotected networks, the connection of infected devices to internal networks, the lack of physical security controls, and the availability of internal resources to external administrators.

Additionally, safety policies and agreements with third parties regarding device security cannot be enforced at all times, which may leave devices vulnerable, infected, and compromised to the organization’s critical resources.

Therefore, to protect organizations that use remote access technology by reducing BYOD and outsourced access to network resources, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) strongly recommends that organizations use the following controls:

Set Work-Related Security Controls and Policies Based On the Assumption That External Areas Contain Hostile Threats

  • Organizations should consider that those client devices used externally by employees and third parties may be at risk of loss or theft and may be used by malicious characters to access data or use devices to gain access to the organization’s network.
  • Reducing loss or theft of customers includes encrypting device storage and sensitive data stored and not storing sensitive data on client devices completely. By minimizing the threats to reuse the device, use strong authentication and multiple-factor authentication.

Develop a Remote Work Safety Policy That Describes Telework, Remote Access, and BYOD Requirements

  • Remote job security policies should define remote access types, devices, and access types.
  • Policies ought to likewise cover how remote access servers are managed and how their policies are updated.
  • Organizations should make risk-based decisions about which remote access standards should be allowed from which types of client devices.

Ensure That Remote Access Servers Are Properly Secured and Configured To Enforce Remote Work Security Policies

  • Access to remote servers is very important because they provide a way for external hosts to gain access to internal resources and a secure, isolated location for outpatient devices, third-party clients, and BYOD.
  • In addition to allowing unauthorized access to business resources and telework clients’ devices, a dedicated server can be used to hear and communicate with them and provide a “break-in” point to attack other managers within the organization.

Protect Remotely Controlled Work Client Devices from the Organization against Common Threats and Maintain Their Security at All Times

  • Remote work client devices should incorporate all local security controls used in the basic security of the organization configuration of its non-telework devices.

If the use of an external device (e.g., BYOD, external company controls) is allowed within the organization’s facilities, consider firmly establishing a separate, external, dedicated network for this use and remote access policies.

  • Allowing client devices controlled by BYOD and third parties to connect directly to internal business networks increases the risk as these devices do not have the same security protections as the organization’s own devices.

NIST Also Recommends Setting Up Remote Access Servers In The Network Cycle And Describes Four Types Of Remote Access Methods:

  • Tunneling servers provide administrators to control the internal resources of remote employee access to the network cycle.
  • Portal servers run software client software on the servers themselves. Setting it up in the network cycle because the remote access user only uses applications on the webserver, not on the internal network servers.
  • Remote desktop does not include remote access servers, so there is no problem with remote access server configuration.
  • Direct application access servers run application software on the servers themselves. Placing them in a network cycle has the same effect as the remote access user only uses applications on the application’s access server directly, not on the internal network servers.


Jeff Campbell