Remote security for the present and the future
This summer, my to-do list was full of stories about cybersecurity issues related to hybrid work. I hoped the path to ending the pandemic was ahead of us. Many companies have announced plans to maintain fully remote or hybrid workforce models with as much certainty as possible during a global pandemic. Approaches like zero trust can make these plans run more smoothly.
And now the virus is resurfacing. We cannot build a good cybersecurity strategy around a single issue that we are responding to in panic, whether it is a specific attack or a global pandemic.
Even the best answers that we put together on the fly are unlikely to be as effective as a well thought out approach. Companies that remain in reactionary mode fail in risk management. This ultimately puts their business continuity to the point that they might even close their doors. And in some industries, like healthcare and finance, organizations risk compliance issues.
Building a flexible approach
Instead of reacting, focus on building a flexible and comprehensive approach.
People often focus on a specific product or solution as an answer. But the answer is bigger than that. We need to totally change our mindset and build a framework that allows us to protect our data before problems arise. We also need the agility to make changes instead of trying something new when a new threat or a new pivot emerges.
It requires a solution that will solve most (if not all) cybersecurity issues, regardless of what happens in terms of where their employees physically do their work. And the longer companies stay in remote working mode, the more likely they are to consider a hybrid or remote model in the long term, making flexibility even more important in the future.
The issues appear pressing right now, with the future of the work model uncertain and digital attacks continuing to increase. But the correct answer is to stop and take a break instead of just reacting.
A long-term full zero-trust approach covers remote, hybrid, and fully on-site working – and possibly even another setup we haven’t even thought about yet. But zero trust cannot be a piecemeal solution that only considers one service or network. You have to dive in head first and make a total change, in technology, mindset and strategy.
Zero trust is the answer
The zero trust model means moving all cybersecurity processes so that they assume that every person or device that requests access is not automatically authorized. Each request must be verified before the Zero Trust Architecture grants access.
This same approach also applies to data access. Only people, devices and applications that need to access a specific piece of data are allowed to access it. Using micro-segmentation, organizations can allow access only to the data, applications, or network that a person needs to do their job.
Using a zero-trust approach, employees can securely access data and applications residing in multiple environments, no matter where they are, using any device. With a zero trust approach, all security information is consolidated across all security domains. This allows a less privileged access model to be used. When set up correctly, users can easily access what they need, without unnecessary barriers, while sensitive data remains safe from unwanted access.
Explore zero trust
Within the framework of zero trust, you combine several tools and solutions. MFA authentication, adaptive access, endpoint protection, and unified endpoint management are all included. These are responsible for filtering both office and remote workers who request access. There are also other techniques for allowing web browser applications and requests to access the corporate Internet. Consider Zero Trust Network Access, Data Loss Prevention, Sandboxing, Secure Web Gateway, Cloud Access Security Brokers, and Remote Browser Isolation.
All of these techniques can work together as part of an integrated framework using the same zero trust approach. And once they do, organizations can gradually phase out VPNs for remote access and reduce the risk of network access.
Zero Trust also helps protect employees from phishing attacks. This in turn reduces the likelihood of unauthorized access and breaches. Additionally, zero trust helps identify and reduce employee risky internet behaviors.
Determine Zero Trust Success
One of the challenges with zero confidence for remote working is knowing when your approach is successful. Using the following key metrics, you can identify where your organization is on the path to zero trust:
- What percentage of employees adopt multiple forms of authentication across all channels?
- How many devices and access points do you monitor and manage for security?
- What percentage of applications have you migrated from VPN based remote access to ZTNA based access?
Zero confidence is not a short-term project. It is also not something that you implement and are done with. Rather, it is a change in approach, technology and process that encompasses all aspects of the organization. It’s tempting to try to do it all at once. But it’s a recipe for stress and failure. By creating a big, all-encompassing plan and then starting with a small, defined project that brings you zero trust, your organization can achieve a long-term solution. This will protect your data and save hundreds or even thousands of hours of reacting to each threat or change.