Over the past year and a half, many businesses of all sizes had to undergo a rapid shift to remote work as pandemic lockdowns forced the closures of offices across the country.

While this has meant adjustments on many fronts, one major technology challenge for IT departments has been implementing endpoint security protections in a world where devices are no longer — or maybe never were — inside the traditional four walls of the office.

The risk for these devices — and for the SMB networks and organizations that they are connected to — is significant. One survey of more than 6,000 remote workers found phishing attacks targeted many. More were prone to poor password security practices and were doing work functions on personal devices. Cyberattacks are recognizing these weaknesses and are taking advantage, leveraging them for ransomware and other types of attacks.

Remotely implementing endpoint security best practices

While the rapid shift to remote work might have meant leaving some cybersecurity considerations by the wayside, IT leaders at SMB organizations should take immediate steps to close these gaps and implement endpoint security best practices across all their devices.

SMBs can start by deploying a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool, allowing remote protection and management of devices across the organization. RMM tools can be leveraged to ensure policies are being followed, that software patches have been implemented, and that antivirus and other cybersecurity technologies are installed and up to date.

Organizations can also look to implement tools that add a layer of security to remote devices, such as a virtual private network (VPN). These can help ensure employees can establish secure and private connections to company networks even while remote. Remote Browser Isolation (RBI) can also help ensure a secure browsing experience by moving web browsing off endpoints to remote containers in the cloud.

Finally, whether remote or not, an SMB should always make sure they monitor their networks for signs of potential compromise and prepare to take action quickly in an attack. This may require network monitoring services, leveraging a cloud-based endpoint detection and response tool for anomaly detection and remediation, or even embracing an extended detection and response (XDR) platform that leverages ML and AI to go beyond traditional solutions.

Remote work is here to stay

The remote work endpoint security challenge is one that SMB leaders will want to address sooner rather than later, as 74 percent of professionals expect remote work to become the “new normal,” and 97 percent of employees say they do not want to return to an office full-time.

With these kinds of statistics, the reality is that while some employees may be returning to offices in recent weeks, remote or hybrid working environments are here to stay. Unfortunately, the cyberthreats are too, and organizations need to ensure they are limiting their risk.

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