As COVID-19 restrictions ease, federal agencies are beginning to bring employees back into the office. Whether teams are returning to the office full time, continuing to work in a remote environment, or using a hybrid approach, the top priority is to keep employees safe and the business of government running smoothly, all while protecting the nation’s most important technology infrastructure.

No matter where teams are physically located, Sirius Federal Security engineers offer these top five security tips and tools to help federal technology leaders keep their networks secure no matter where their teams work.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Attackers will often search for the weakest link in the agency’s security posture. With employees accessing your network from multiple – and potentially new – endpoints, weak passwords or lack of security on the endpoint is a perfect way for skilled cybercriminals to get into your network. 81% of breaches are caused by compromised credentials. To protect against these threats, the tools used by your workforce to get their jobs done should have strong, multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access into your systems. DUO Security, which was recently acquired by Cisco, offers an impressively easy way to layer on MFA with a minimal disruption to the user while incorporating the latest methods of authentication.

Through its authentication application, DUO sits between your points of access and your network. Authentication operates via Universal 2nd Factor (U2F), a more secure means of authentication facilitating push notifications in comparison with less secure SMS (text) based methods. DUO works with PIV/CAC and meets common federal technology requirements, including NIST guidelines for authentication.

Implement Security at the Application Level, Not the User Level

Both multi-factor and zero-trust authentication offer a security model that shifts traditional, perimeter-based security where anyone with the credentials can access everything inside your network from any device to individual application security. Application-based security utilizes user identity, the trustworthiness of the device, and established security policies to grant access to that one application. It is a more scalable approach to security that protects every attack surface by validating every point of access. With employees accessing your network from various environments both inside and outside of your office, to truly protect your network and the devices connected to it, security protocols need to be set inside of the firewall at the application level to fortify your network against breaches.

Next Generation Firewalls Support and Scale VPN Access

While employees are slowly returning to work, many are still working remote. A recent survey of federal workers found that 63% of employees expected to be working remote into 2021. Older firewall technology can’t support high numbers of employees accessing your network through VPN. The best way to achieve consistent, scalable VPN access that lets employees work as though they are sitting in their office inside your agency is by upgrading to a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW). NGFWs can support not only the increasing number of users but the increased load on the device to deliver the additional services and functionality required to protect those users in times of need. NGFWs also offer additional controls including enhanced security with identity store and authentication, threat intelligence, URL filtering, and analytics.

Secure Your Cloud Apps – Including Those you Don’t Know About

Regardless of where you are in your cloud migration, employees working in the office and remotely are connecting various endpoints to some cloud based applications. In addition, remote employees are more likely to use shadow IT – those apps that may not be authorized by your team but help them get their jobs done. Fortify your cloud applications to proactively protect them against threats inside and outside threats. Cloud security tools such as Cisco Umbrella not only protect against malware and other threats, they also help you gain visibility into your cloud apps and find use of shadow IT across your environment. Umbrella also blocks malicious and unwanted domains and cloud applications before your users even establish a connection.

Automate Your Security

Cybersecurity teams were overwhelmed BEFORE the pandemic. With many employees working remote or in a hybrid environment, hackers and cybercriminals could see this new working environment as an opportunity to find weaknesses in your systems. Monitoring, maintaining, and watching for new threats is even more challenging in the current working environment. As constant vigilance is needed to watch over your network, automating your network security is critical. Scans, queries, and reports can all be automated. Leverage the latest security technology to help you, not make your job harder. There are many security technology tools that are FedRamp authorized that can automate security protocols and spot trends. By using these tools to their fullest potential, it becomes easy to identify unusual behavior that could signify a threat, allowing technology teams to stop a breach from happening.

Choose the Right Collaboration Tools

Employees who are working in a socially distanced office environment or remote must still be connected to each other. Modern collaboration tools allow employees sitting in different offices or different states to work as though they were in the same conference room. Collaboration applications such as Webex Teams and Webex Meetings offered by Cisco allow employees the ability to instant message and participate in group chat sessions regardless of physical location. Webex also offers huddle spaces where interactive meetings can take place using virtual white boards, document sharing, and other features that allow participants to collaborate in real time – from anywhere.

As a federal agency, you also have the added complexity of needing collaboration solutions that adhere to the numerous and ever-evolving compliance demands, including modernization requirements. If mission security is a concern for your collaboration tools, Cisco offers a FedRAMP Impact Level 2 (IL2) Webex tool for Civilian agencies. They also have HCS-D solutions designed specifically for Department of Defense agencies that offer DoD Impact Level 5 (IL5) certification. Remote workers using these tools can achieve the highest level of security as they do in the office environment.

Get Support When You Need It

While businesses and government work through plans on getting employees back into the office safely, securing your network no matter where your employees work is crucial to maintain the business of government. Regardless of what security protocols you already have in place, talking to a service provider about your current security landscape and how your employees are working is a good first step. The service provider can help assess your situation and recommend the right security tools to help you achieve mission success.

Sirius Federal is a technology solutions provider that has worked with the federal government providing secure technology solutions and services for over 25 years. We understand the security requirements needed in the federal space and partner with leading manufacturers. Our engineers are trained to better support the needs of our federal customers. Security is woven into everything we do. Contact Sirius Federal today and let us help your agency stay secure with a remote workforce.

Related Blog Posts

See All Blogs

Sirius Federal Awarded CMMI Level 3 Certification

Sirius Federal, a CDW Company, a leading national IT solutions integrator for the federal government, announced today that it has been awarded the distinguished Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Level 3 certification. The CMMI certification was created by the Software…

Sirius Federal Named Cisco Federal Intelligence Partner of the Year at Cisco Partner Summit 2021

  Crofton, MD – 16 November 2021 — Sirius Federal, a Sirius Computer Solutions Company, has been named the Cisco Federal Intelligence Partner of the Year for the second time in three years. Cisco announced the winners during its annual partner…

How Proper Collaboration Tools Make or Break Long-Term Telework Plans for Federal Agencies

Effective collaboration tools can eliminate silos and accelerate missions. But getting to a modern and secure collaboration environment can be a daunting task for federal agencies, especially with today’s mobile workforce. In the year and a half since the onset…

Sirius Federal Helps Maryland Food Bank Fight Hunger Through Virtual Food Drive

Sirius Federal ran a virtual food drive during the month of September to support the Maryland Food Bank in its fight against hunger insecurities.

Sirius Federal Kicks Off America’s VetDogs Partnership

Sirius Federal recently kicked off our partnership with America’s VetDogs, a charity dedicated to providing service and guide dogs for veterans and first responders.

The Role AI Has in Redefining Federal Telehealth Practices

Federal telehealth practices use AI to uncover the best mix of human and machine communication, leading to more productive care and treatment.

White House Encourages Federal Agencies to Modernize Their Data Centers

Government agencies encouraged to modernize in response to cybersecurity threats.

The Need for Exhaustive Data Protection in the Federal Government

SolarWinds breach prompts federal courts to add new security procedures to protect highly sensitive court documents.

Key Ways Converged Infrastructure Can Help Your Agency Conquer Cloud Migration

Learn how converged infrastructure can help your agency ditch the silos and modernize your data center for today’s cloud world.

Federal IT Focus Areas for 2H of 2021

In the aftermath of an unprecedented year riddled with a teleworking surge, election-year tension and—last but certainly not least—a global pandemic affecting every industry and organization in our nation, it’s safe to say that 2021 was welcomed with open arms.…

5 Tools to Help Federal Employees Return to Work Safely

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease across the country, federal agencies are slowly bringing employees back into the office. However, many employees who have spent several months working in a remote environment may be nervous about returning to the office,…

Using the CDM Program to Keep Federal Networks Secure No Matter Where Employees Work

As federal agencies deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on where and how employees work, federal CIOs that were already facing constraints securing their networks prior to the pandemic now have to contend with network security for the…

Sirius Federal Awarded ITES-SW2 Contract

Crofton, MD—September 9, 2020— Sirius Federal, a Sirius company, has been awarded the Information Technology Enterprise Solutions-Software 2 (ITES-SW2) contract. In addition to helping save time on procurement and cutting costs by consolidating their software purchases, the ITES-SW2 contract allows…

Sirius Federal Gives Back to the Community Through Virtual Food Drive

Philanthropy and community outreach have always been an integral part of Sirius Federal’s corporate culture. To support those in need in our communities, Sirius Federal is running a Virtual Food Drive during the month of September to support the Maryland…

Ignore the Workforce at Your IT Modernization Peril

Federal agencies are currently faced with the daunting task of modernizing billions of dollars’ worth of outdated technology. On the path to IT modernization success, the investment in technology represents only half the battle though — agencies also need to…

Sirius Federal Named Public Sector Partner of the Year and Federal Intelligence Partner of the Year at Cisco Partner Summit

This week, Sirius Federal was recognized for our leadership in the public sector by receiving two awards at the Cisco Partner Summit in Las Vegas, NV. Sirius Federal was named the Americas Geographical Region Public Sector Partner of the Year…

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan that Keeps Pace with Technology

The fear of a disaster in your data center is what nightmares are made of for technology teams. Are the systems backed-up properly? Will we lose data? How much downtime will we incur? Does the team know what to do?…

Protecting your Agency from Phishing

As we spend an increasingly large percentage of our time online, we’ve become aware of the malicious tactics used to trick us into downloading malware or betraying our credentials. Even as our built-in threat detection improves, we risk letting it…

Choosing an IT Solution Provider that Keeps Projects on Track

Most of us have experienced a project that hasn’t gone quite as planned. Information wasn’t received at the right time, different teams had completely different interpretations of the requirements, or somebody didn’t realize they were responsible for a task. Little…

TechTarget: Big Blue Drives Collaboration Among IBM Business Partners

IBM is investing in resources and business processes to make it easier for IBM business partners to create alliances with each other. Following last month's IBM Think conference in San Francisco, Senior Director of Software Practice Charles Fullwood discusses the…

Deployment and Resident Engineers Deliver On-Site Solutions

At Sirius Federal, we provide solutions. From infrastructure management to cloud migration, we create custom answers to federal IT’s most pressing problems. But we believe strong, sustainable solutions involve more than just software and hardware. What agencies often need most…

WBJ: Here’s What it Takes for a Mid-Tier Maryland Contractor to Compete in Evolving Federal IT Marketplace

More than three-fourths of federal government agencies — about 77 percent, according to a Government Accountability Office report — will not meet their planned technology modernization goals by the end of the year. Our CEO, Mike Greaney, recently sat down…

The Rally Call for Digital Transformation Is Here: Are You Ready for the Journey?

Today, digital transformation has become the rallying cry for government organizations aiming to innovate and improve operations. The promise of digital transformation is profound: faster and more informed decision-making, improved customer insights, greater cost savings, more reliable products and services,…

3 Tactics to Avoid Insider Threats Posed by Third-Party Contractors

"The balance between too much security and too little is delicate. Overzealous access policies can bring efficiency and productivity to a screeching halt. But an overly lax approach can expose sensitive data to people who don’t need it and shouldn’t…

Improving Insider Threat Detection with Security Integration

With cyber-attacks like Nyetya and WannaCry dominating headlines over the last several months, you’d think malware would top the list of security pro’s biggest concerns. But you’d be wrong, according to the SANS Institute’s 2017 annual data security survey. While…

Unstructured Data: The Threat You Cannot See

In this article for Dark Reading, Sirius Federal software practice director Charles Fullwood examines why security teams needs to take a cognitive approach to the increasing volumes of data flowing from sources they don't control. Every day, IT security teams…

Expect security, cloud spending in 2018 Federal IT Budget

In recent interviews with TechTarget, industry leaders--including Sirius Federal's Greg Kushto--cited an uptick in federal IT procurement activity during the government's fiscal fourth quarter and expected FY 2018 to feature security and cloud investments. IT solution providers planning to pursue…

NextGov: How to Unleash Federal IT Workers as Changemakers

Written by Sirius Federal's vice president of client solutions Jason Parry, this article was originally published at The public-sector workforce has always been plagued by stereotypes. To the layman, “government job” calls to mind images of a middle-aged bureaucrat,…

SearchITChannel: New tech, old virtues keep server virtualization going

"Server virtualization is well past the peak of the technology adoption curve, but SMB customers, open source technology and hybrid clouds keep demand going." —John Moore, SearchITChannel Server virtualization platforms have been around for ages and would seem to be old…

FedTech: How to Make the Most of the Federal Hiring Freeze

Although the freeze may constrain resources, it is also an opportunity to conduct an IT inventory, invest in training and prioritize projects. In this article for FedTech, writer Phil Goldstein addresses how federal agencies are handling the recently announced federal…