With the rise of remote work and hybrid work arrangements, executive leaders face unprecedented new cybersecurity challenges. Despite our best efforts to move quickly to accommodate the new cybersecurity landscape, we still see many high-profile breaches across sectors, such as the SolarWinds hack and the vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Exchange Server that exposed millions of government records.
Such breaches have served to demonstrate that existing safeguards are insufficient. Conventional approaches, such as a perimeter-based approach to security, haven’t scaled to meet the need posed by a rush to remote work. And as our organizations are asked to monitor more endpoints across a greater area than ever before, security practices grounded in manual labor have proven unwieldly for our already-thin-stretched IT teams.
What can businesses do to protect themselves in this increasingly unpredictable cyber landscape while ensuring their hybrid workforces are empowered and secure? At our organization as well as among customers, we’ve seen that the answer lies in solutions that bring together formerly siloed considerations of network operations, on the one hand, and security protocols, on the other.
To sum it up, there are four must-have features that every leader should seek to strengthen their organization’s cyber posture. These include visibility and control; granularity; automation; and zero trust. Each is essential to helping define the emerging vision of a truly robust and effective cybersecurity strategy.
Visibility and Control
In a remote work environment, just as in an on-prem work situation, IT leaders and security teams need visibility into what a given device is doing and the security posture of that device.
They need to know, verifiably, who’s logging in and be able to assure they are operating within authorized constraints. Additionally, they should have visibility into adverse cyber events, and the ability to control network behaviors in response to perceived threats.
A fully realized security solution will offer a granular view of IT resources and how they are being used. Threat visibility should extend all the way down to the individual device, the specific app, the actual file, and the piece of data.
Granularity suggests not just having visibility into what’s happening but also device-level control over operations and processes. Security teams can turn to this capability, also known as micro-segmentation, to manage fine-grained control of network behaviors, as well as gain insight into potential emerging threats and issues.
Given the rapid expansion of the attack surface due to remote and hybrid work arrangements, we need to equip IT leaders with solutions that take them beyond the present, manually intensive strategies for cybersecurity. They need solutions that deliver automation: both in terms of access control and response and remediation workflows.
Automation should be supported by standards-based API integration or publisher/subscriber models, with diverse network elements able to communicate and interoperate in support of security goals.
What encompasses all the above critical components? Zero Trust Architecture or ZTA. A fundamental tenet of a modernized cyber strategy is the embrace of a Zero Trust approach to network management.
The Zero Trust framework requires that all users, whether inside or outside the organization, be authenticated and authorized, and that they be continuously validated to gain access to data and applications. Not only does Zero Trust help improve security with continuous authentication and validation requirements, but it also improves the end-user experience once those users are determined to be trusted in the network.
Securing the Hybrid Workforce
As we look to help our employees navigate working from “anywhere,” it’s incumbent on leaders to ensure our businesses are secure while doing so.
Overall, this emerging approach with these four must-haves promise to drive new efficiencies, simplify the daily work of cybersecurity, ease the workload on IT teams, and ultimately ensure the integrity of data stores and applications. Doing so will be vital in this radically changing cyber landscape created by the rise of remote and hybrid work arrangements.