The COVID-19 virus has taken the whole world by storm; infecting over 6,000,000 people globally, killing more than 360,000, forcing businesses to shutdown, governments to order lockdowns, and organizations to give remote working directives, in order to keep things running, while keeping everyone safe.
Sadly, the increased reliance on the internet amidst this pandemic has resulted in a hike of cybercrimes and a treasure trove of security issues. When working out of office, people are required more than ever to maintain a stable and secure connection with business IT networks.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a critical instrument for this task, bridging the gap between non-secure online communications and users. The only problem is that the increased reliance on these tools amidst this pandemic has led to cybercriminals exploring them for vulnerabilities.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has even alerted businesses about the escalating threats of VPN exploitation. They are encouraging organizations to strengthen security for safe remote working in these tough times, and alarming them about these major risks:
- Hackers are ramping up their efforts in discovering and exploiting new weaknesses for these security solutions, which puts telecommuting and remote working at huge risk.
- Organizations are using VPN services 24/7 and that makes it difficult for them to regularly keep up with updates regarding the latest bug fixes and security patches.
- Those businesses that have not mandated their employees to use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for remote connections could fall victim to phishing raids.
- Criminal entities online may become more clever in executing phishing attacks to trick teleworkers into providing authentication details.
- Enterprises that employ VPNs can only support a limited number of simultaneous VPN connections, which could result in security teams failing to perform their tasks, due to network-wide congestion.
- VPNs with weak security protocols and encryption could leak personnel's WebRTC/DNS/IP address that directly puts their data at risk, further making them vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks.
Basically, organizations that have adopted VPN technology for teleworking need to understand that the average company's security architecture has a single point of failure (SPOF).
Any criminal entity that succeeds in intercepting said technology can get access to the targets' most crucial data assets.
To counter this menace of security issues, CISA has recommended that organizations focus on increasing their VPN security practices , as to prevent any chances of a bad scenario.
The agency has listed these following tips that can help you move in the right direction:
- Keep your VPN network infrastructure and tool up to date, regardless of whether you are giving your employees a company-issued or personal toll for connecting to enterprise resources remotely.
Regular updates ensure you get the latest security patches and OUR RSS CHANNEL configurations.
- Inform your team members about the increasing cyberattacks amidst the pandemic and tell them to follow safer internet practices like being cautious of suspicious email senders.
- Ensure that the cybersecurity department of your organization is ready for tackling remote access exploitation through 24/7 incident reporting, log analysis, and breach detection.
- Make it mandatory to deploy multi-factor authentication for VPN connections, as it can prevent unauthorized access.
Also, use strong passwords for each account for maximum security.
- Thoroughly inspect your corporate VPN service for restrictions regarding capacity. You can even employ bandwidth limiting to guarantee continuity of secure connections where needed most.
- Test the functionality and reactiveness of the VPN kill switch, which automatically terminates all web traffic, if a secure connection disconnects; to prevent data from passing without encryption.
Wrapping Things Up
There is no doubt in the fact that VPNs are crucial tools for security, be it organization-wide, personal, or for your entire house.
This is what makes it essential for you to make the right decision. As such, do not just rely on any service, and put effort into the research process.
You have plenty of options in the marketplace that support both enterprise and personal-level security. For the former, you will need to conduct a thorough assessment.
Meanwhile, the latter can always opt to get a trial run of different VPNs. I recommend starting from here !