Remote Workforce Provides an “In” to Managed Security Opportunity for IT Generalists
Whether you’re personally a fan of “flexible” work environments (i.e. working from home in your pajamas, from a beach in Mexico or from a co-working space with a free coffee bar and weekly happy hours), it’s a trend on the rise. We have millennials to thank (or curse) for that, but the paradigm shift doesn’t only apply to that generation — the oldest members of which, we should point out, are pushing 40, reaching middle management and implementing these policies themselves.
That new normal is prompting all kinds of operational changes, from moving to virtual meetings to the uptick in cloud collaboration platforms and mobile software solutions. It especially impacts network security measures as more and more business is being conducted from disparate, far-flung locations. According to Upwork’s recent 2019 Future Workforce Report, 73% of all businesses will have remote employees by 2028. That’s going to have a big impact on how we approach IT, says Himanshu Verma, director of product management at WatchGuard Technologies.
“This shift has amplified the number of variables in the breadth of IT infrastructure that need to be secured and will continue to introduce new complexities around data control and security as cloud services make connectivity easier for the global mobile workforce,” says Verma. “Hackers are shifting their attention toward the mobile user in the same way predators target prey that’s strayed from the herd.”
It makes sense that the growing remote workforce is a temptation few cybercriminals can resist. These employees are off premises, on mobile and beyond the network perimeter — and therefore far more vulnerable. The same carelessness users display within a structured office environment (we’re talking to you, person who can’t pass up an unverified link to “the cutest cat in the world”) doesn’t stop just because employees are working remotely; in fact, it’s amplified by even more areas of risk.
“Working from remote locations often requires [workers] to connect to public networks or Wi-Fi hotspots,” observes Verma. “What goes out can just as easily come right back in, which is why advanced attackers use these public networks as carriers or hosts to bypass perimeter defenses.”
Luckily for employers with remote workforces, managed security service providers (MSSPs) are ready to ride to the rescue. Verma says they’re looking beyond the network perimeter, consolidating offerings and moving toward service packages that prioritize layered defense technologies like multifactor authentication (MFA), Wi-Fi security and endpoint protection over specific products. By structuring security services so that they shadow users no matter where they’re plugged in, they’re effectively giving employers much broader coverage.
Verma says there are several key elements of such solution sets that provide different but overlapping protections to form a comprehensive cyberdefense.
- Secure remote access in the form of VPN and secure SD-WAN protected with multifactor authentication to provide a safe channel to access corporate resources for branch offices and remote users.
- DNS-based filtering and content filtering to client endpoints that become easy extensions of network security.
- Correlation of events across the network and endpoint – packaged with automated response – to provide an adaptive security approach with prevention, detection and response capabilities, enabling predictability and intelligence.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning-based technologies work together, both on the network and endpoint, to give the breadth and automation needed for an effective managed detection and response service.
- The implementation of advanced zero-day threat prevention and detection extends beyond the perimeter to the remote workforce and is a key ingredient for consolidation of services for MSPs as well as profitability.
- Having full visibility across the complete threat vector landscape both within and outside the network enhances MSPs’ ability to provide best-in-class remote monitoring and remote reporting.
The remote workforce paradigm opens up an opportunity for MSPs looking to add …