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When organizations shift to a work-from-home environment, identity and access management (IAM) takes center stage. Organizations with remote workforces must fortify their IAM policies and tools for a better user experience to ensure productivity, while also handling all the security challenges remote work presents to ensure data and system security.

 One of the biggest risks an organization faces when its workforce goes remote is unnecessary and unauthorized access to organizational data. This shines a light on the importance of a comprehensive IAM program in place to monitor, identify, and revoke excess privileges from users and groups to reduce organizational risk.

 In order to quickly and inexpensively enable employees to work from home, organizations have implemented Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). According to the data compiled by Shodan, a search engine that scans and indexes devices connected to internet, the number of RDP endpoints has surged from approximately 3 million at the start of the year to 4.4 million by Sunday, March 29, 2020.

Threat actors have been known to leverage RDP as an attack vector and was used in 63.5 percent of disclosed targeted ransomware campaigns in the first quarter of 2019. As millions of people have shifted to working from home for the first time, hackers haven’t wasted any time exploiting the situation. SANS Institute has identified a 30 percent increase in attackers’ interest in RDP in March alone due to the massive surge in organizations currently adopting remote work.

 Secure authentication methods are critical when it comes to ensuring secure access for employees working from home. Once an organization is targeted, if a user name and password combination is the only security measure for user accounts, it’s surprisingly easy to obtain user account credentials using a password attack method. This is because there’s only one factor to overcome: the password.

Without additional methods of authentication, it’s relatively easy for criminals to hijack login credentials and identities, and access sensitive information. Therefore, instead of relying only on usernames and passwords, it’s essential to add additional layers of security to the accounts by implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA). This makes it more difficult for malicious actors to gain access to mission-critical resources, and secures access with seamless authentication for authorized users.

It’s important to enforce and follow cyber-hygiene best practices, especially when there is a heightened activity among cyberattackers looking to exploit the increasing number of people working from home. To support organizations in this fight, ManageEngine is offering a free 60-day license to AD360, our tool for securing the remote workforce. With this tool, admins can simplify IAM to keep their remote workforce secure and productive while also securing their mission-critical data and resources.