Remote Workforce Provides an “In” to Managed Security Opportunity for IT Generalists

Learning to guard an expanding network perimeter is a skill more and more employers are clamoring for.

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

April 23, 2019

4 Min Read
ADPnbsphas received various accolades for its work in promoting a diverse workforce Part of its diversity and inclusion focus is providing a flexible
ADP has received various accolades for its work in promoting a diverse workforce. Part of its diversity and inclusion focus is providing a flexible work environment, including onsite day care centers and discounts to offsite centers, as well as flexible work schedules and telecommuting. ADP committees and councils engage its associates in helping execute its Diversity & Inclusion priorities, including its annual Diversity & Inclusion Summit.ThinkStock

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.


WatchGuard’s Himanshu Verma

“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 …

… that extra S and to bill themselves as true managed security service providers — and to look for revenue streams beyond the traditional infrastructure elements offered by IT generalists.

“For business owners,” explains Verma, “managing network and security is already a daunting task, so MSPs serving the SMB market can bolster the value of their offerings by adding layers of security beyond the network perimeter.”

In other words, upsell, upsell, upsell. Flexible work accommodation isn’t just a passing trend, but a full-fledged new reality. Develop a specialty offering around it now to get a jump on the competition and set yourself up for success in this brave new millennial world.

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About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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