Remote working doesn’t have to mean unsecure working

Having more people work remotely shouldn’t mean your organisation is at greater risk of cyber-attack, provided you put the right technology and systems in place.

For many people, the COVID-19 crisis has been the first time they have experienced working remotely. And while the decision to send workers home has hopefully kept them safe, even when the crisis is over, we don't expect to see all workers ever returning to the office.

But this trend to remote working has also caused a few challenges, especially for the people tasked with protecting corporate computer networks. Suddenly they had to contend with hundreds or even thousands of workers connecting from new locations, so rather than being able to keep all workers safe inside corporate firewalls, they now had senior staff accessing sensitive information on consumer-grade home networks.

In cyber security we can't automatically trust anything that is trying to connect to our network, and instead have to verify its identity first. This concept of 'zero-trust' necessitates applying protection and threat detection at every step of the way.

But while remote working is a new phenomenon for many workers, at Intel, it is a trend that we've seen evolving ever since we first started selling our Centrino-powered mobile computers almost two decades ago.

And with that experience under our belt, we've learned a thing or two about how to help our clients keep their sensitive information safe in zero trust situations.

For starters, there are what we like to call the basics of good cyber security hygiene. These include ensuring workers use complex passwords which cannot be easily guessed, and that they log off and shut down when they finish work.

We also see many organisations now adding extra layers of security, such as two factor authentication, which sends a signal to a third party device such as a mobile phone or digital key fob to ensure the person logging on to the company network is an appropriate person, and not merely someone who has stolen a set of credentials.

But we also know that these steps will only block some of the potential threats that are out there, and it is possible for a remote worker to become an unwitting pawn in a cyber attack despite their best efforts to be diligent.

That is why at Intel we have ensured that security is deeply embedded into the technology we make, as part of a sophisticated management capability that operates directly at the hardware layer of mobile PCs built for business, and which we call vPro platforms.

A key element of this is the Intel Hardware Shield, which provides advanced threat detection capabilities and reduces the scope for attackers by locking down critical system resources. As its name suggests, Intel Hardware Shield operates directly within the device's hardware, meaning it is 'below the operating system'. This means it starts working even before the device is fully booted up and can help prevent malicious code from infecting the operating system and compromising a device.

Furthermore, in the event that Intel Hardware Shield detects threat-like behaviour on the PC, it can perform an active memory scan to determine whether or not what it has seen really is the result of malicious software, and then stop that software from completing its objective.

vPro also features security measures including Intel Transparent Supply Chain, which ensures components within the machine are still as authentic as they were at manufacturing time. It also provides support for a variety of security services within the Windows 10 operating systems.

And because vPro provides remote management functionality, even if an attack proves successful, an authorised remote administrator can easily log into the infected device and reset it, or even install a new copy of its hard drive from a time before the infection took place.

We know that most workers are not technology professionals, let alone cyber security experts. That's why at Intel we strive to do everything we can to take the heavy lifting of staying secure out of the hands of workers, while also ensuring the burden for administrators is as light as it can be.

Because we know that while workers may not be coming into the office as often as they used to, that doesn't mean we can't secure them like they are. After all, we've been doing it for almost 20 years already.