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The Admin’s IT Guide to Remote Endpoint Management

April 23, 2021

By Peter Barnett

More people than ever are working from home, and IT teams are being pushed to the limit trying to maintain both user productivity and corporate security. They need to be able to keep endpoints properly maintained, monitor network activity, troubleshoot issues promptly, and more — all while remote.

The job can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. To help, we’ve drawn up a list of the essential best practices managing a remote workforce, along with tips for implementing them effectively.

Establish an Effective Password Policy

Strong cybersecurity password policies are a critical first line of defense against user accounts being taken over by cybercriminals. At the same time, businesses simply cannot afford the time, hassle, and frustration of forcing users to log in dozens of times a day or constantly memorize new passwords.

Therefore, it’s essential to choose a balanced approach to IT security password policies. Experts recommend requiring passwords with long and unique combinations with different elements, but no longer demanding that users change their passwords frequently. In addition, only a limited number of attempts to log in should be allowed before the account is locked out.

Require Multi-Factor Authentication and VPN on Remote Workstations

Remote endpoints are the most vulnerable of all IT assets, so they merit special protections. This is especially true of user-owned laptops, computers, tablets, and smartphones. Unlike company-owned machines, these personal devices are full of apps that haven’t been carefully vetted by IT admins.

Two strategies will help you help keep your critical and sensitive data out of the hands of cybercriminals: Require multi-factor authentication for all remote devices, and require all remote employees to use a corporate VPN configured and controlled by your IT team.

Enable Remote Troubleshooting

No matter how smart your IT team is or how hard they work, users are going to run into issues from time to time. But with workers scattered across the globe and IT teams working from home, troubleshooting can’t depend on IT pros being able to lay their hands on the device experiencing the issue.
Instead, consider investing in a feature-rich remote management and monitoring (RMM) solution. Remote desktop access enables IT teams to investigate user issues at the push of a button and resolve them remotely, boosting employee satisfaction and productivity while reducing IT costs and workload.

How to manage remote workforce

Keep All Endpoints Updated and Patched

Cybercriminals are notorious for discovering software vulnerabilities and exploiting them at lightning speed. To reduce your risk, it’s essential to keep all your software up to date by deploying updates and patches promptly.

That task was hard enough when all your endpoints were company-owned machines in the office; the modern remote workforce makes the job even tougher. Therefore, organizations today need a patch management solution that alerts IT teams to vulnerabilities across all endpoints, notifies them about new updates and patches as they become available, and enables them to install updates and patches on all required workstations simultaneously, either on-demand or during a scheduled off-hours window.

Keep Track of Your IT Assets

Lack of deep and accurate insight into hardware and software assets is a huge roadblock for IT teams. They cannot ensure that endpoints are provisioned properly, plan for software end-of-life dates, budget for hardware replacements, and more.

Therefore, it’s smart to invest in a solution that provides both a complete software inventory and a comprehensive hardware inventory. Be sure it provides real-time details such as versions, installation dates, endpoint names, processors, motherboards, memory, and drives.

Control Software Deployment and Removal

To keep users productive and the network secure, IT pros need to be able to automate both software deployment and removal. Look for a solution that makes it easy to distribute approved applications across a set of workstations, as well as to discover unapproved apps and services and remove them before they lead to downtime or security breaches.

Additional Tips for Managing a Remote Workforce

Properly managing a remote workforce is a complex task. Here are some additional tips for ensuring enterprise cybersecurity and productivity:

  • Require Encryption of Sensitive Data

To reduce the risk of data leakage and compliance violations, require employees to encrypt sensitive and regulated data before copying it to their personal devices or transmitting it over a network.

  • Train Users to Log Out

Make it mandatory for users to log out before they leave any endpoint that is connected to the corporate network unattended.

  • Mandate Wi-Fi Security Precautions

IT admins cannot control workers’ home networks, but they can and should insist that employees pay close attention to their Wi-Fi security and reliability. Emphasize that workers must never use an open Wi-Fi network that does not require a security key. Never ever.

  • Plan for Emergencies

Develop a list of events or situations that could lead to productivity problems or security incidents. Produce a comprehensive guide for what end-users need to do in those cases. Be sure to write clearly and succinctly, test your plan by walking through it with volunteers, and train everyone on the steps involved.

Investing in an Enterprise Cybersecurity Program

Here’s a quick checklist of the functionality IT teams need to manage a remote workforce effectively today.

Smooth Integration
Centralized Database
Remote Unattended Access
Automation and Optimization
Intuitive Interface
Live Reports and Notifications
An RMM solution is, by its nature, designed to produce an IT boost, scaling up IT performance. If you use a few different solutions, ensure that they are correctly integrated and don’t serve as the fertile ground for data silos.
To keep your IT assets up to date, create various databases based on specific operating systems, types of IT assets, installed applications, servers. These lists make a difference: sysadmins may quickly discover what to patch, update, troubleshoot, or uninstall within a given environment.
IT teams need complete control over a company’s workstations for quality maintenance. Some remote management tasks have to be done off-hours while nobody’s logged in. In this case, unattended access gives IT teams a chance to resolve any issue at any time.
Regardless of the size of a business, IT admins should dedicate their time to those matters that require their direct involvement. Most of the secondary administrative tasks can be automatically executed on the managed endpoints on a scheduled window.
The design of an RMM platform plays a significant role in easing the IT workflow. Overly saturated endpoint security solutions may have quite the opposite effect on the productivity of your IT department.
Running administrative tasks in the cloud makes your remote environment far more flexible and secure. Whether there’s a patch/update available to install or a sign of a cyberattack, you’re immediately notified of any activity worth paying attention to!

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