Has increased home working made your network less secure?

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Companies have been very successful at moving lots of people over to home working in response to the pandemic. In most cases, these home workers are just as productive as when they worked in the office. And companies are saving on office costs and travel expenses. So far, so good.

But, during this time of rapid change, some security holes have opened up. As companies were firefighting network and application performance, doors to the network were left open. These must be closed quickly.

Securing the network is vital to capitalise on the huge opportunities that change has brought. IT leaders have long seen the potential for cloud working and software-defined networking. Now, the rest of the board shares their vision. Nicolas Fischbach, Global CTO at Forcepoint says, “We are seeing a shift to the cloud, digital transformation, industry 4.0. It’s happening in all the markets we are present in. For a very long time, there was a pushback from the C level resisting the move to the cloud, because there was a lack of trust in cloud services. This has changed since the pandemic.”

And this change has more than paid for itself. Nicolas Fischbach adds, “My transformation to secure SD-WAN from private WAN services paid for itself and gave me £600K to spend on something else every year.”

As the immediate response to the pandemic starts to evolve, companies are looking at a longer-term strategy for home and flexible working. It’s time to draw up an action plan: 

  • Reflect on the changes you’ve made to allow people to work from home. What impact have the changes had on the risks and threats to the business? Start by drawing up a new map of where assets and data are located.
  • Assess whether changes made in haste have affected compliance. Security goes hand in hand with regulatory compliance. It’s a good idea to cross reference plans and actions relating to digital infrastructure security with compliance teams.
  • Prioritise where to improve security. This should start with filling gaps you have identified in network or applications security. Combine this with threat intelligence about the latest threats in your vertical market or geographies. Tap into threat management services that combine this type of contextual threat intelligence with security monitoring and management tools.
  • Focus on identity and access management. Security these days goes way beyond the traditional perimeter of a corporate network. When people are working from home, you need to be certain who is accessing systems. Revisit access permissions and controls and make sure there’s a system in place to review these as soon as someone leaves the company. Multifactor authentication is the key to securing entry points to company systems.
  • Put people first. A BT survey of 1,200 global execs revealed that 84% agreed that security for their corporate data is more important than experience when working from home. In fact, both are essential and of equal importance. Poor user experience can affect security, if users turn to apps outside of corporate IT.

Security is certainly not just a technology fix. It’s is important to have the right technology to monitor and address security threats across the network and to handle secure user access. But all this effort is wasted if a user clicks on a phishing email or uses an insecure app for work. People need to understand what they can and must do to keep the network secure. It’s a good idea to explain this in real-world terms to groups of users. Make it clear what the impact would be on the business if they cause a security breach.

Network architectures are evolving. Cloud-based and software-defined networking is giving companies the flexibility they need to respond to fast-changing market conditions. But flexibility can’t come at the cost of security. As companies draw up plans to embed flexible working for the future, security must go hand in hand with global networking strategies.

If you’d like to hear more about securing your dispersed enterprise, register for our upcoming event ‘Daring to Disrupt: how digital leaders are transforming network infrastructures’ here and claim your free eBook.

Or have one of our experts call you.

Steve Coakley

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