Secure Browsing

Semper Paratus: Always be Ready

Semper Paratus, the US Coast Guard motto that means “always ready,” has a nice ring to it. And casually dropping a Latin expression into a conversation can make anyone sound a bit smarter.

But on a serious note, this phrase gained special significance for Ericom at RSA2020, possibly the last major trade show to take place before COVID-19 shut down major events.


Anticipate Unknowns

A few years ago, Ericom chose hand sanitizer as suitable swag to promote Ericom Shield. Circa 2018, we reasoned that the small bottles of gel communicated that Ericom Shield remote browser isolation is highly effective at preventing malware and phishing from infecting endpoints and networks. Sanitize web content before it touches your endpoint …get it?  

Semper Paratus.

What we didn't know – couldn’t know — and what almost no one foresaw (other than some exceptionally prescient dystopian fiction writers) was that a few years later, in February 2020, hand sanitizer would become the second most searched-for item on Amazon — and one of the hottest giveaway items at RSA2020. Once word got around, over a thousand guests dropped in at our booth to grab a bottle and check out our solutions.

Just a few of weeks earlier, we had no inkling that a pandemic was coming, economies would shudder, and thousands would be homebound. What we did know is that those little bottles were great, because people clipped them to bags to be prepared for a time when they might need to clean their hands, with no sink in sight. 

The benefit of being prepared for whatever lies ahead, in whatever way possible, is now clear. It’s true that we can never know just what the future holds, but given that uncertainty, it’s possible to take measures that will be likely to help effectively manage in a range of emerging situations. 


Be Ready for Whatever the Internet Sends

That trivial action – keeping hand sanitizer gel on hand and ready, just in case, for situations that can’t be foretold – is an apt metaphor for Zero Trust security approaches such as remote browser isolation (RBI).

Malware is most dangerous when it first emerges precisely because it is unexpected. Within days of when a new strain surfaces, signatures are analyzed, lists are updated and detection-based solutions like firewalls, secure web gateways and URL filters are (mostly) able to stop it before it does damage.

But when fresh-from-the hacker’s-oven ransomware or zero-day exploits first burst onto websites or phishing emails, the only way to stop them is with a least-privileges approach – by keeping ALL content that isn’t known to be safe away from user devices. That is, by being prepared for inevitable unknown, unanticipated and especially, unwanted events.

With more employees working from home, protecting endpoints from web-based threats is doubly essential. Users’ home networks devices are rarely safeguarded by the enterprise-strength firewalls, secure web gateways and other protective technologies that filter out threats when they browse from the office. And while users are likely to log into company networks to access workaday apps and resources, they will most likely continue to browse without those protections, outside of the VPNs they use to connect. Yet, should their devices be infected by malware, it will quickly spread to your corporate network.

Much like sanitizing your hands before entering your house, without thought as to exactly what might be lurking on your hands, or whether they’re harboring anything risky at all, browsing via Ericom Shield provides least-privilege, always-prepared protection for user devices – and your network.


Be Ready to Toughen Up, Fast

While most organizations were prepared for some remote work, enabling all employees to work from home has presented most businesses with a tough security paradox: On the one hand, they rapidly sought to expand VPN capacity to secure remote access for their work-from-home teams. On the other, by exposing enterprise networks to the public internet, those same VPNs bring risk to the resources they are meant to secure. And rolling out VPN access to virtually all users exponentially increases the risk.

Ericom was ready to help organizations with an easy-to-implement way to secure remote access to corporate data and apps, and user desktops – handy, lightweight solutions that are available now to prevent breaches before they occur. Ericom Connect remote access solution isolates organizational resources from the public network, adding the extra protection they need beyond standard VPN access so their resources can’t be discovered and breached.

Combining Ericom Connect with an enterprise VPN adds Zero Trust protection, without hassle, delay or large-scale investment. In contrast to standard RDP access, Ericom Connect HTML5 access solution enables granular management, with applications visible only to authorized users. With built-in support for SSL / TLS 1.2, it enables full encryption of all connections from clients to terminal servers, even across public networks.

For businesses needing to rapidly gear up to while closures are in place, Ericom Connect rapidly scales to protect hundreds of thousands of users from one single server. Installation takes little more than an hour and clientless, remote roll-out to both in-office desktops and end-user devices enables IT to provide full, secure access to applications, data and in-office desktops, even with strict closures in place. Browser-based access to their in-office desktops makes using Ericom Connect simple for users, with no learning curve needed.


Preparation is a Continuous Process

As this post goes to press, the natural history of the pandemic is still uncertain, as are possible long-lasting impacts of behavioral changes it has wrought. But now that the initial shock is past, the question becomes: “What can be done to be better prepared when the next crisis comes around?”

Let’s go back to those little bottles of Ericom-branded hand sanitizer. We originally selected them because Ericom is all about preparing for danger and preventing it from touching your business. It’s all about the basic tenets of never trusting, always verifying, denying access by default. Be prepared by keeping threats out. The sanitizers are a great metaphor for what our solutions do for our customers everyday.

If we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 experience, it is that we are not in control, we do NOT call the shots. Being prepared, and helping our customers stay prepared, is the best we can do.