Malicious actors target VPN’s as more users work from home due to COVID-19

As more organizations around the world prepare for possible impacts of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), many may consider alternate workplace options for their employees.

Remote work options may require an enterprise virtual private network (VPN) solution to connect employees to an organization’s information technology (IT) network. As organizations elect to implement this, security researchers encourage organizations to adopt a heightened state of cybersecurity.

The following are cybersecurity considerations regarding telework.

  • As organizations use VPNs for remote workers, more vulnerabilities are being found and targeted by malicious cyber actors.
  • As VPNs are 24/7, organizations are less likely to keep them updated with the latest security updates and patches.
  • Malicious cyber actors may increase phishing emails targeting VPN users to steal their usernames and passwords.
  • Organizations that do not use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for remote access are more susceptible to phishing attacks.
  • Organizations may have a limited number of VPN connections, after which point no other employee can connect. With decreased availability, critical business operations may suffer, including IT security personnel’s ability to perform cybersecurity tasks.

Mitigations

  • Update VPNs, network infrastructure devices, and devices being used to remote into work environments with the latest software patches and security configurations.
  • Alert employees to an expected increase in phishing attempts.
  • Ensure IT security personnel are prepared to ramp up the following remote access cybersecurity tasks: log review, attack detection, and incident response and recovery.
  • Implement MFA on all VPN connections to increase security. If MFA is not implemented, require VPN users to use strong passwords.
  • Ensure IT security personnel test VPN limitations to prepare for mass usage and, if possible, implement modifications—such as rate limiting—to prioritize users that will require higher bandwidths.

Duncan Newell

Duncan is a technology professional with over 20 years experience of working in various IT roles. He has a interest in cyber security, and has a wide range of other skills in radio, electronics and telecommunications.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: