In a post-pandemic world, healthcare workers have never been more stretched thin – or more in demand. And when you consider this increase in demand has resulted in many care workers going permanently mobile, as they strive to help as many patients and clients as they can, managing identity securely can sometimes, understandably, give way to expediency.
But with mobile care work positions often experiencing a high level of turnover, ensuring your organisation protects its data from the cyber security risks is critical, as lack of identity security protection can expose you and your clients and patients.
As your resident team of identity security experts, we thought we’d take the time to break-down this often-complicated topic and provide you with a beginner’s guide to identity and security for mobile care workers.
Intrigued? Keep reading for more!
Securing Remote Access To Systems and Data
The first way you can secure remote access to your systems and data is to implement an identity awareness training program targeted specifically at your mobile care workers. This training should include content that is more relevant to your mobile workforce, such as the dangers of public Wi-Fi spots, the use of removable media and the consequences of letting someone else use their work devices.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and Role Based Access Control (RBAC) can also help you to ensure that only your mobile care workers are accessing the data they need to perform their roles, thus reducing the level of risk from outside security threats.
But, perhaps one of the best ways you can ensure that you’re securing remote access to your systems and data is by implementing a gateway system like a virtual private network (VPN) or software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN).
Both VPNs and SD-WAN have been used across security conscious organisations for a number of years and both come with their own sets of pros and cons, such as:
VPNs have been actively used in the IT industry for about 25 years, with many IT professionals opting to rely on them to build fast, secure networks. With a VPN, your network provides an inherently secure gateway for your mobile care workers to access your organisation’s data.
However, while VPNs are simpler, they are also less flexible than SD-WAN from an IT management perspective. A VPN is an individual end-to-end connection, so without a single platform from which you can see all your organisation’s VPN connections at once, you’ll have to monitor them individually. With more human interaction comes an increased risk of a mistake and an identity breach – as well as being a drain on your IT resources.
In comparison to VPNs, SD-WAN presents a more flexible and scalable type of network that makes it easier for enterprises to connect geographically distributed locations and employees. Utilising a two-line approach, SD-WAN acts like a redundant internet connection so if the underlay experiences an outage or interruption on one of its lines, the overlay network continues to run.
For organisations with mobile care workers, SD-WAN may provide you with the flexibility you need to ensure your workers are accessing your company data in a way that isn’t exposing you to identity risks.
However, like VPNs, SD-WAN is still vulnerable to issues caused by public internet lines, such as fluctuating bandwidth. While internet service providers guarantee their performance against issues like latency and packet loss on dedicated circuits, these guarantees don’t apply to public internet lines. If you decide to implement an SD-WAN network in your identity security strategy, it may be best to consider how issues associated with public internet lines may affect your care workers on the road.
Protecting Devices On The Road
When it comes to identity security for mobile care workers, ensuring the security of your workers’ devices should be at the top of your identity strategy.
When operating, you should assume there is a high risk of a mobile device being displaced or stolen at any time and thus you should prepare accordingly. To start with, documents on mobile systems should be backed up on a daily basis. You should also implement a data classification policy so your care workers can make more informed decisions of what data can and can’t be copied to mobile devices.
In today’s digital age, intrusion detection systems and endpoint threat detection are now needed for all mobile systems. Deploying an anti-virus on your systems is simply not enough anymore as there is a significant risk that mobile endpoints may be compromised at some point. That’s why it’s so important to implement a solution that not only reports on suspicious activities but also the activities that preceded and followed the flagged activity in your system, helping you to understand the entirety of an attack and its scope.
Collecting Sensitive Data In The Field
We mentioned it before but a VPN or SD-WAN can help to ensure that any sensitive data your mobile care workers record in the field can be safely communicated back to your critical applications and systems. This is especially true if your workers are accessing your systems via public Wi-Fi networks or internet services when reading and writing data. Remember a VPN or SD-WAN adds an extra layer of security protection in these situations.
Encryption also plays an important part in securing sensitive data when it is communicated over the internet. Encryption ensures that your data is only being accessed by those with the password to decrypt the data, which should be those within your business authorised to do so. A password manager application can also help provide another layer of security on top of your encryption practices, as this manager acts as an extra barrier to ensure that only those authorised to access your organisation’s sensitive data are able to do so.
Now, we know what you may be thinking: ensuring that your identity security policies are up-to-scratch when it comes to mobile care workers is a lot more complicated than it may first appear.
But don’t forget, MOQdigital is here to help.
In fact, our team of identity security experts are ready and waiting to help you assess where you currently stand when it comes to your identity security strategies and how you can ensure that they’ll continue to protect you and your care workers as you strive to achieve your organisational goals into the future.
All you have to do to get started is get in touch.
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