UEM: Improving Device Security for Remote Workers

UEM is finding its place in corporate security in the face of the work-from-home directive brought on by COVID-19

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, teams all over the globe have had to adjust to working remotely. Naturally, the transition can be rocky for those who are unfamiliar with the process, but perhaps more of a concern is how remote teams can stay secure online while away from the safety of office networks.

Personal internet connections are often more vulnerable to cyberattacks, so remote employees pose a threat to sensitive company information such as login and financial details. Not to mention, some criminals are actually leveraging the pandemic to prey on the uncertainty of people by tailoring harmful content to COVID-19. For example, in the UK, hackers have sent phishing emails posing as the official tax office and offering a refund for those who enter their bank card numbers.

One extremely valuable solution at this time is unified endpoint management (UEM), which helps businesses manage and control internet-enabled devices from a single interface. Essentially, UEM can connect and administer the technology used by remote employees, which can lead to increased productivity and better access to company resources.

UEM also offers elasticity, automated solutions and strong security protection, so IT departments can securely manage all the endpoints in a corporate infrastructure. Here’s how:

Threat Detection

A noticeable issue with remote workers is that they may use personal hardware to access professional systems. In fact, on average, a person owns 6.58 connected devices, which means there is a wider net for compromised security among distributed teams.

In response, UEM provides 360-degree protection for all corporate data and apps, regardless of what device they are installed or accessed on. This allows employees to switch between corporate and personal devices without jeopardizing company security.

Most UEM software has mobile threat detection integration, which enables it to identify and thwart potential vulnerabilities or attacks across devices before they cause any damage. Equally, UEM can allow admins to blacklist undesired websites, limiting what users can see online as well as restrict inappropriate content. On the other hand, whitelisting is where admins can block access to all URLs apart from secure-only content.

In a more physical sense, passcodes and device and disk encryption prevent unauthorized access to UEM devices.

Data Loss Prevention

A study by IBM found that human error is the cause of roughly 95% of all cybersecurity breaches. This figure highlights how remote teams can easily make mistakes with severe consequences for their company while outside of the security protocols of the office.

As an added layer of protection, UEM admins can create “open-in” policies that stop particular types of content or applications being opened from unmanaged sources. For example, a remote team member would only have permission to open company tax records on their work computer and not their personal device.

Likewise, UEM can restrict data being transferred from devices via USB, Bluetooth and tethering. This type of limitation significantly reduces any potential instances for data to be intercepted or put at risk from external influences. Instead, UEM makes sure that data is channeled through managed corporate WiFi and VPNs (virtual private networks) to minimize threats. Already, in the midst of COVID-19, VPN usage has soared as people working remotely look to safely access corporate networks online.

Other ways UEM lowers data loss is by applying passwords rules to enforce stronger password practices across teams, and disabling copy-and-paste actions to stop data being leaked to unmanaged applications. UEM is also ideal in cases of device theft or loss when steps can be taken to block all access and prevent data hacks.

Business and Legal Compliance

UEM is additionally very effective at keeping devices (and employee actions) compliant. It can facilitate legal compliance such as GDPR and PCI DSS and scan and confirm how compliant devices are for company-specific compliance policies. When necessary, UEM can take responsive measures such as triggering a warning message to devices that are operating outside of compliance rules.

Meanwhile, identity and access management features determine what resources should be available to which user, and prevent sensitive resources being shared without permission.

For employees using personal devices, UEM can separate corporate apps and data from personal information by deploying “containers”—meaning only corporate data is subject to compliance regulation. If the employee later leaves the business, the corporate data and software can be removed while the personal containers stay unaffected.

New Conditions and New Technology

Even before COVID-19, companies were increasing the number of devices used by their employees. There was already a clear need for a solution that streamlined all devices in real-time, but it wasn’t until the current crisis struck that the need became even more pressing. Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has enacted an experiment where businesses that adopt new technology fast are better poised to run efficiently and securely.

UEM is, therefore, proving to be necessary for remote teams. Moreover, it has the scope to become a commonplace tool as remote work develops into the new normal.

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Apu Pavithran

Apu Pavithran is the founder and CEO of Hexnode. Recognized in the IT management community as a consultant, speaker and thought leader, Apu has been a strong advocate for IT governance and Information security management. He’s passionate about entrepreneurship and spends significant time working with startups and empowering young entrepreneurs.

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