Helping Companies Meet US Government Guidance on Securing Remote Workforces

Apr 06, 2020
4 minutes

Many organizations are working to face the impact of a sudden increase in employees working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, the United States Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued cybersecurity guidance in relation to teleworking. This Enterprise VPN Security Alert (AA20-073A) provides both technical and mitigation details organizations should follow in order to secure remote workers.


Remote Workforce Security Requirements

Palo Alto Networks products are designed to provide connectivity and security no matter where employees are located. Here we look at the mitigations outlined in the Enterprise VPN Security Alert and describe how Palo Alto Networks tackles each one. 

  • Update VPNs, network infrastructure devices, and devices being used to remote into work environments with the latest software patches and security configurations. 

Prisma Access is a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) that helps organizations enable secure remote workforces from the cloud by providing consistent security services. The platform is continuously running and is constantly maintained and monitored. Zero-day patches and fixes are implemented rapidly, thus keeping the infrastructure robust and and free of vulnerabilities.

  • Alert employees to an expected increase in phishing attempts. 

Stopping phishing attacks becomes more difficult as users move to the cloud. However, DNS security protects users by predicting and blocking malicious domains while neutralizing threats hidden in DNS tunneling. Prisma Access provides this protection through a scalable model, one of the true benefits of SASE and cloud-delivered security. User education is also key to protecting the organization from phishing attacks.

  • Ensure IT security personnel are prepared to ramp up the following remote access cybersecurity tasks: log review, attack detection, and incident response and recovery.

At Palo Alto Networks, we look at this guidance in a comprehensive manner. Our suite of products, Next-Generation Firewalls, Prisma Access and Cortex, provides a comprehensive view into your entire network, allowing you to quickly ramp up people and processes, while also monitoring and logging all events, suspicious or not. 

  • Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on all VPN connections to increase security. If MFA is not implemented, require teleworkers to use strong passwords. 

MFA is a key component in infrastructure and data security. Our platform works robustly with MFA solutions in the market today, offering not just factor-based MFA but also certificate-based authentication, where certificates could be used as an authentication mechanism. This authentication can be done even if the organization currently does not have an identity management partner.

  • 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.

Scaling is crucial when ramping up remote users who demand uninterrupted bandwidth. As a cloud-delivered solution, Prisma Access can scale to meet the needs that organizations are faced with during today’s COVID-19 pandemic. Business continuity remains a key aspect where security solutions must move with the business requirements, rather than having the business adjust to one security solution.


Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability

These security requirements all point back to a familiar security model called the CIA Triad, designed to provide organizations with information security best practices. Confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA) provide the basics of security that these government-issued VPN security requirements come from. 

  • Confidentiality – Rules or policies limiting access to information/data.
  • Integrity – Verifying the authenticity, accuracy and trustworthiness of the information/data.
  • Availability – Ensuring access to the information/data is reliable for authorized users.

The Palo Alto Networks portfolio of products are built with the CIA Triad in mind. Prisma Access ensures these three conditions are met, specifically providing the ability of confidentiality through end-to-end encryption. Our SOC 2 Type 2 certification combined with threat protection features allows for  data to remain trustworthy and unaltered during transit. Lastly, with our vast network of 108+ points of presence (POPs) in 76 countries, users are always getting the protection that they need with low-latency access to all their public cloud, SaaS and data center applications. 

Learn more about how Palo Alto Networks can help secure your remote workforce.

Subscribe to the Blog!

Sign up to receive must-read articles, Playbooks of the Week, new feature announcements, and more.