We know October is a month-long celebration of Halloween, but did you know it’s also National Cybersecurity Awareness Month? Well we’re here to make you aware. Kevin & Andrew welcome James Stanley with the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to discuss the month and why it’s important to take personal responsibility for your security. On top of that, Stanley offers telework tips for remote workers, IT pros, and executives.
Then it’s onto Ransomware Reckoning. On this edition, Andrew N. shares a scary story of hackers targeting schools.
In headlines, hear about a breach affecting Robinhood investors. And then, learn why cyber resilience is just as important as cybersecurity. Finally, hear why U.K. residents were less than thrilled about a cyber recruiting campaign.
But wait, there’s more! We didn’t forget about the Halloween part of October. So we decided to do some network security costume shopping before calling it a day. Hear about what we found.
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Telework is literally this appliance’s middle name, so you know you’re looking at a strong answer. The Z Series combines enterprise-level firewall security with a VPN gateway and a wireless router, all in one compact package. They’re purpose-built to securely extend Meraki’s cloud managed networking to the work from home crowd. Let’s take a closer look at what the Z Series offers to improve your remote work days.
Cisco Meraki Z Series Models
The Cisco Meraki Z Series consists of two hardware models, the Z3 Cloud Managed Teleworker Gateway and the Z3C LTE Teleworker Gateway. The models are virtually the same, except the Z3C offers an additional cellular failover option with an integrated CAT 3 LTE Modem. The first entry in the series, the Cisco Meraki Z1, reached end of sale in July of 2018. Now let’s get more into the specific features you can expect from Z Series Teleworker Gateway appliances.
How Many Devices Can the Z3 Support?
The Cisco Meraki Z3 and Z3C are made for remote workers’ home office setups. Therefore, they support a typical power user’s home network, with a recommended max of 5 devices – also known as clients. Devices can mean desktop computers, laptops, printers, phones, and more.
Cisco Meraki Z3 Tech Specs
Physically, the Cisco Meraki Z3 and Z3C share similar footprints, with the Z3C weighing in a quarter pound more and measuring an inch longer thanks to its internal modem. That of course just means the difference between under a pound and slightly over a pound, so if you have a desk (or table, or shelf, or whatever), you’ll find a spot. Otherwise, their features are identical:
4 wired LAN ports – incl. one 802.3af PoE port, ideal for phones
1 GbE WAN port
1 USB 2.0 port (for 3G/4G failover)
Dual-band 802.11ac Wave 2 WiFi, 2×2 MU-MIMO
Stateful firewall throughput: 100 Mbps
VPN throughput: 50 Mbps
Z Series: In Summary
In case reading tech specs isn’t your thing, allow us to elaborate. When it comes to firewalling, the Z Series has you covered with Cisco Meraki firewall security and solid throughput for a home user. This keeps threats from entering the home office environment. Plus, you can separate work and home traffic for added protection. When it comes to wireless, you get a Wave 2 router with support for up to 4 SSIDs (with guest access) and a data rate up to 1.3 Gbps.
When it comes to remote work connectivity, you get Auto VPN. With Meraki’s self-configuring Auto VPN technology, administrators can deploy network services including VoIP & remote endpoints without needing to walk-through the home user. Your home workers get secure, zero-touch site to site connectivity to HQ and all the apps and files therein. And when it comes to management, you get Cisco Meraki’s single-pane-of-glass, cloud-based dashboard. In addition, there are throughput, connectivity monitoring, & email alerts, plus automatic firmware upgrades & security patches.
How to get the Z Series
First, choose between the Cisco Meraki Z3 and the Z3C if you need the added failover assurance of the internal cellular modem. And then, choose your support subscription length. Then, to get all the management, reporting, firmware updates, support, and zero-touch deployment you can handle, choose your enterprise license. Select a subscription length of 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 years. And remember, all Cisco Meraki appliances require an active license to operate.
With the rapidly evolving circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, workplaces around the world have been faced with a difficult challenge – quickly deploying a remote workforce. While some have been prepared for telework all along, others are scrambling to ensure employees can access their networks quickly, without compromising security. The unfortunate truth of our current situation is that while many are banding together to protect those most vulnerable to the coronavirus, there are those who see this more scattered user-base as a golden opportunity for cyber attack.
It’s important to remember that just because you’re not in the office, it doesn’t mean hackers are taking a holiday. In fact, remote work is their bread and butter. And they stand at the ready to exploit the vulnerabilities teleworking can bring.
With that in mind, what can you do to plug those holes? How do you keep both your network and your work-from-homers secure? Here are 5 things to consider…
1 – It Starts With a Policy
Both you and your staff benefit from knowing what to expect from remote work. Putting a telework policy in writing and ensuring everyone in your organization is aware of it is an important step for consistency and therefore security. Hopefully you already had one, but if not, it still pays to put one together and make it clear to all employees.
What should it include? Acceptable use, personal vs company devices, personal vs company accounts, how to connect, whether public wi-fi is allowed, etc. A couple of statistics should reinforce the need for a strong telework policy: nearly half of employees say they transfer files between work and personal computers; almost 15% say they can’t connect to their work network from home, and more than three quarters say they don’t take privacy measures when teleworking in a public setting.
2 – Protect Your Endpoints
Each device an employee uses to access your data is an added security risk. Remote laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc. are not constantly protected by your firewall. But you need to ensure they have a level of protection against malware, email scams, and other data breaches, so attackers can’t use them as a tunnel back into your network. That’s why a strong endpoint security solution is vital for all your telework users. The best options also provide added visibility into their status for admins. Protecting each device individually makes protecting your network as a whole much easier.
3 – Build a Tunnel
To work from home effectively, your employees need to have use of all the apps and files they normally have at the office. How do you facilitate that quickly and securely? You need to offer virtual private network – better known as VPN – access.
A VPN sets up a secure tunnel between your telework employees and your network, protecting their and your data from any spying or prying eyes. This encrypted tunnel (using either IPSec or SSL) can even help when employees use public networks. In case you missed it, we outlined SonicWall’s VPN options in a recent post.
4 – Make Sure Passwords Have a Passing Grade
An all too common problem with an all too easy solution in the cybersecurity world is weak passwords. Ensure your telework employees (and everything on your network) uses strong passwords of length, with numeric and special characters, and phrases if supported. This keeps brute force attacks at bay, which typically just fire thousands of common words at a login screen until one works.
And take it a step further with multi-factor authentication. For employees to access your network remotely, require an additional step, such as an authentication code texted or emailed to provide added security. Some types of multi-factor authentication even include options like geotracking.
5 – Training Is Vital
You’ve likely already heard that the most common reason for a breach is human error. Whether it’s in the form of a misconfiguration or because an employee clicked a malicious link, the human element puts your network at risk. And just as cybersecurity training is vital in the office, it’s extremely important for telework.
So safety using the aforementioned public wi-fi should come up, as well as reminders about what to look for in social engineering scams. Online attackers’ new favorite? Coronavirus-related malware in the form of emails, and even phony maps to steal personal data from anyone who visits to try and keep up with the virus’ spread.
You’ll also want to be sure your work-from-homers are sticking to VPN-only when it comes to work files. Too often, the easy way may be to send sensitive data as an unencrypted email attachment, but that risks exposing it to bad actors. Teach them to keep it encrypted, even if it takes a little bit longer. And even though social distancing may keep you from conducting this training in person, there are plenty of videoconferencing options to help.