Endpoint Security for Government Agencies Managing Remote Workers


IT professionals working across the government know the stakes are high for security. Government agencies deliver many essential services, handle citizens’ personal information, and work with other sensitive data. One study found each exposed record costs government agencies approximately $75 to rectify. Another study estimated a data breach of fewer than 10,000 records will cost an agency an average $2.2 million in expenses.

While these numbers are significant, cost isn’t the only impact of a government security breach. Ransomware attacks across the country have resulted in citizens unable to pay bills or tickets, employees unable to access their work computers, and police officers unable to file digital reports. Basic government functions can grind to a halt, leaving citizens unhappy and potentially mission-critical workloads unable to run.

During this period when more government employees are working remotely—which could be a part of government work for the foreseeable future—IT security professionals must deal with increased security challenges. Employees working from home may work on less secure devices and not follow cybersecurity policies as closely as necessary. Meanwhile, phishing and malware attacks have increased dramatically. This all means IT needs to have a clear plan for endpoint security that supports increased remote work and protects government data.


Follow endpoint security best practices

The endpoint devices employees use for work such as PCs and printers are often vulnerable to attacks when employees leave the office. When agencies had to suddenly send employees home to work this spring, this left many IT departments scrambling to get the necessary hardware in place for employees.

You may have sent employees home with the machines you had available, even if they didn’t come with top-of-the-line security built in. In that case, it’s important to follow best practices for protecting these devices. For IT, that means installing antivirus protection and making sure it’s up to date and patched.

But much of what happens with endpoint devices is out of your hands. You may not have visibility to all the devices employees use and you can’t control their behavior. This makes education for employees essential to protecting endpoint devices and the potentially sensitive data they contain. Topics to cover include:

Passwords – Basic best practices for passwords apply here (select strong passwords, don’t share or reuse passwords, etc.). But when employees work from home, their personal and professional lives can more easily overlap. Whenever possible, have employees only log in to work accounts on their work devices. If they’re using a personal device, they should never save a work password in their browser.

Phishing and malware – The current pandemic has led to a rise in phishing and malware attacks that can compromise endpoint devices. Consider setting up a training to show employees real-world examples of what these attacks look like. If you have done a training, send out periodic reminder emails highlighting what to look out for.

Protocols for incident response – Make sure you establish and communicate the procedures for who an employee should contact in the event of an attack or security breach. Quick communication allows your team to respond as soon as possible, mitigate the threat, and resecure the employee’s device.


Opt for built-in security whenever possible

Setting up best practices for antivirus software and encouraging safe, secure behavior is important, but agencies looking to really elevate endpoint protection should consider the devices themselves.

Many state and local government agencies work on outdated technology (one recent analysis found that one-third of state IT systems are outdated), and these old systems often lack modern security features. PCs and printers that come with security tools pre-installed can simplify security deployment and offer more layers of protection, making them a good option for those looking to upgrade.

HP aims to improve PC security by incorporating strong security tools into its systems. For example, one problem with antivirus software is that it can’t detect firmware threats below the operating system. HP Sure Start technology, which comes with all HP Elite PCs, addresses this problem by validating the integrity of the device’s BIOS code at startup, monitoring memory for a BIOS attack during operation, and forcing an immediate restart if the device is compromised. All HP PCs also come with HP Sure Run, which protects firewall, antivirus, and security applications from malware attacks.

Built-in security tools can also protect endpoints if employees accidentally click on malicious links. HP Sure Click assists with this issue by opening browser tabs in individual virtual containers to protect the OS from infection. And in the event a device does become compromised or the hard drive is erased, HP Sure Recover enables IT to quickly recover the operating system so your employee can get back to work.

Hardware with these kinds of embedded features offers a solid foundation for endpoint security.


Take this opportunity to upgrade for the future

There’s no doubt that upgrading PCs, printers, and other endpoints can be a challenge for government agencies. Budget restrictions, a lack of qualified personnel to facilitate the adoption of new technology, and the need to meet strict requirements to protect government data can make transitioning to new technology a challenge.

But the disruption of the workplace status quo during this global pandemic has already forced many government agencies to adapt, and in many cases it’s speeding up technology changes that were already underway. Investing in stronger endpoints now can put your agency on the path to more secure work in the future. If you’re interested in learning more about secure hardware, take a look at HP’s solutions for government.