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Top IT Security Best Practises: Workstation Security

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Top IT Security Best Practises: Workstation Security

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Top IT Security Best Practises: Workstation Security

A key responsibility of the CISO or vCISO is the formulation of a comprehensive security strategy and the implementation of sound security policies. This is a time-consuming task because every business has unique needs in terms of organisational make-up, data security, regulatory compliance, and risk tolerance.

Cyberattacks commonly target computers and laptops. All organisations utilise these devices with sensitive data. They are prone to malware, viruses, and unauthorised access because they are typically networked. Thus, attackers target these endpoints to exploit their vulnerabilities.

Thus, Workstation Security is a crucial policy for every company. Workstation Security policies safeguard data from malware, viruses, and security breaches. This policy also complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), and HIPAA.

The Assaults This Policy Serves to Prevent

Organisations can be safeguarded from ransomware, Remote Access Trojans (RATs), and other forms of malware, as well as phishing attacks that exploit software flaws and holes in workstations, with a solid Workstation Security strategy in place.

Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, in which network communication between a user's workstation and a distant server is intercepted and modified, can be mitigated by adhering to a workstation security policy. Information theft and malware propagation are two of the goals of MITM attacks.

The Application of This Policy

All employees, contractors, suppliers, and agents who have company-owned (managed) or personal (unmanaged) workstations that are linked to the organisational network are required to comply with the Workstation Security policy.

Principal Controls of This Policy

The controls enumerated below are the fundamental building blocks of a robust Workstation Security policy. By adhering to them, you can increase the security of the workstations in your organisation:

1. Use of Strong password: A strong password policy compels users to choose complicated, unique passwords and change them periodically. It is also highly recommended to use a password manager. Strong passwords secure internet accounts. Hackers use automated programmes to crack weak passwords like word or number combinations. The latest generative AI systems may hack 51% of passwords in just a minute, according to studies. Strong passwords are longer, more complicated, and contain many characters. They're difficult to guess or crack.

2. Multi-Factor Authentication: Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to access resources. MFA replaces passwords. Two-factor or multi-factor authentication secures online accounts. Even with your password, hackers cannot access your account if you require a code delivered to your phone to get in. Biometric verification reduces the likelihood of attackers providing multiple verification elements.

3. Anti-Malware Protection: Make sure you have virus and malware protection software installed, and keep it up to date. One piece of malware may wreak havoc on an entire network, resulting in lost time, money, and goodwill. The security of a company's digital assets can be preserved with the help of anti-malware protection, which can give real-time protection against dangerous software by identifying and eradicating malware.

4. Patch management for operating systems and applications: Update the operating systems and applications with the most recent security upgrades and updates on a regular basis.Patch management assists in maintaining software and systems with the most recent security updates and fixes. This helps prevent cybercriminals from exploiting known vulnerabilities, which could compromise the organization's endpoints, network, and data.

5. Firewall Configuration: Configure internal firewalls on workstations to limit incoming and outgoing network traffic. A properly configured workstation firewall provides an additional layer of protection against potential network attacks. Firewalls can prevent unauthorised network access, filter network traffic, detect and block suspicious activity, and prevent malware from spreading laterally. An internal firewall protects the system and data from a variety of hazards, such as malware, viruses, and hacker attacks.

6. Encrypted File and Folder Access: Encrypt hard drives on workstations. This is particularly crucial for preserving laptops. Locally stored sensitive data can be safeguarded against unauthorised access by encrypting files and folders. Encryption makes it more difficult for cybercriminals to intercept and read sensitive data, as the data is scrambled and can only be deciphered with the corresponding decryption key. Encrypting files and folders can also facilitate compliance with data protection regulations and, in some cases, provide protection against ransomware.

7. User Awareness Training: Users should receive instruction on how to spot potential security issues, react to them, and adhere to security best practises. Humans are frequently the weakest link in cybersecurity. Employees can become an effective line of defence against cyber-attacks by being more knowledgeable of cybersecurity best practises and risks. This lowers the possibility of security breaches and other cyber threats. Employees that receive user awareness training are better equipped to identify and counteract online risks. This include spotting phishing emails and texts, avoiding social engineering con games, and engaging in safe online conduct.

  1. Ensure that all operating systems and hardware configurations are centrally managed. Use a minimal amount of local admin accounts and make sure these accounts are securely managed (for example, with Privileged Access Management – PAM solutions). Central workstation administration helps ensure that all individual workstations are properly governed, updated and maintained, making them easier to secure. In addition, applying remote administration also allows detecting and remediating security threats quickly, minimizing the impact of security breaches. This reduces the risk of cyber-attacks such as malware infections and data breaches as well as the impact of human error that can occur during manual updates and maintenance.

9. Locking Workstations: Ensure that workstations are closed following a predetermined period of inactivity. Locking workstations is essential for preventing unauthorised access to sensitive data and systems. When a workstation is left inactive and unlocked, it can be accessed by anyone with physical access, potentially jeopardising sensitive data or enabling malicious activity.

10. Backup and Recovery: Perform regular data backups and implement recovery procedures for workstations. Backup and recovery of workstations guarantee the availability and integrity of data in the event of a cyberattack that results in data loss, encryption, or corruption. With a backup, a copy of critical data is stored in a secure location, distinct from the workstation, and can be restored in the event of an attack. By routinely backing up crucial data from endpoints and implementing a recovery strategy, organisations can prevent data loss and maintain business continuity.

By putting these security measures into place, you may lessen the likelihood and impact of security incidents while also defending critical data kept on workstations.

Because there is no "one size fits all" approach to cybersecurity, we strongly recommend that you talk with your CISO, virtual CISO, MSSP, or cybersecurity consultant before diving headfirst into adopting the proposed measures.


May 25, 2023