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Maintaining Computer and OS Integrity on Loaned Laptops

As many businesses begin to embrace permanent work-from-home policies, the network security landscape continues to become increasingly complex. 

A study by Ponemon Institute found that only 44% of organizations worldwide were confident in their ability to fend off cyberattacks following the initial outbreak of COVID-19, compared to almost 75% prior to the pandemic. These rising concerns stemmed from a combination of threats, including a lack of physical security in the workspaces of remote workers (47%), the risk of remote workers’ devices being infected with malware (32%) and the risk of cybercrooks accessing sensitive data on remote workers’ devices (24%).

Today’s IT managers must effectively monitor and manage a fully or partially remote digital asset environment, while also working to limit malicious third-party access to a growing number of vulnerable endpoints. A comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, including user education as well as the usage of automation and innovation technology, will be essential to protecting loaned devices and maintaining the operating system (OS) integrity of each. 

Educating users on best practices

One of the most common mistakes even the most experienced organizations fall for is taking a reactive approach to cybersecurity. However, once an attacker breachers your network, the cost associated with identifying, removing and correcting the damage will only continue to rise. 

CSO Online explained that the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. No matter the size of your organization, the expenses related to managing the attack itself as well as the damage inflicted by bad publicity, regulatory fines and lost opportunities are all increasing. However, costs are decreasing for companies taking more proactive steps to improve security.

Remote workers have become a prime target for hackers, as even those using loaned devices are exposed in a way that company networks traditionally aren’t. However, equipping employees with a greater knowledge of cybersecurity and an understanding of best usage practices can help to reduce their risk. 

Education empowers workers to spot some of the most common signs of an attempted attack, especially when it comes to phishing attempts via corporate emails. Instilling a clear messaging and device usage policy will help reduce the potential for a spoofed email to slip through the cracks, or for a worker to use their laptop in a way that directly puts data at risk. 

In an effort to equip their workforces with the infrastructure necessary to support fully remote activities, IT departments have become strained. User education can help to reduce the potential for a security gap to go unnoticed, and there are additional solutions that can help teams take a more proactive stance. 

Managing remote patch management

Maintaining the integrity of loaned devices requires a comprehensive approach beyond providing cybersecurity training — a strong patch management policy will be critical in achieving this.

With more laptops out of the office and out of IT managers’ direct line of visibility, teams need a way to ensure that all software and operating systems are up to date and equipped with the latest patches from developers and vendors. Patches, which are updates made to correct glitches or address potential vulnerabilities, are an essential component of an effective approach to cybersecurity. 

In 2017, the global impact of the ransomware attack named “Petya” illustrated exactly how detrimental missing a patch can be. As The Conversation explained, the attack exploited the same vulnerability found in a Microsoft program by another virus that had made the rounds just months prior. Although Microsoft quickly reacted and released a patch to address the original security gap, the organizations that failed to make the update paid a costly lesson: The total damages brought about by Petya were estimated to be worth more than $10 billion.

Companies that fail to consistently monitor their entire remote networks for new patch releases are exposing themselves to significant potential risk, especially if they regularly handle sensitive or personal data. Automating patch management can provide a powerful solution, taking the time-consuming task out of the hands of IT managers and end users, with patches being sought out and downloaded when systems aren’t in use. 

Deploying the right patch management solution 

Faronics’ easy-to-use software distribution and patch management tools provide maximum control over Windows and other third-party app installation and updates, helping your organization secure all loaned laptops no matter where the members of your workforce are located. 

Our Deep Freeze Cloud solution offers a flexible and scalable platform that meets the needs of small and large enterprises without the investment in expensive infrastructure — and, in the event that a malicious third party does gain access, users can easily reboot their systems to instantly restore their devices to the IT manager’s set default state.

If your organization is ready to secure your loaned laptops and better maintain your OS integrity, contact us today to learn more.

About The Author

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, expert on Reboot Restore Technology when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.

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