Organizations of all sizes have been called upon to swiftly support remote work in order to safeguard the health of their workforce and local communities. As businesses are called upon to scale up remote work procedures for the physical safety of employees, IT teams must accelerate the adoption of technology that ensures their people and data are secure—without hurting productivity or morale.
Transitioning an entire workforce to remote work can be challenging for many organizations. Many employees occupy back office roles that were, until now, never designed to be done off site. Their workloads depend on resources and systems that are exclusive to systems on site.
For example, imagine a publicly traded company whose finance team tracks financial performance and feeds data to the board and to regulators. That's a function that's traditionally been done on site, using systems designed to operate within company facilities. Now that this team needs to do the same work remotely, IT and security teams must first rethink how they enable these knowledge workers to safely and efficiently access systems and interact with sensitive data from outside the office.
In order to safely make work accessible, no matter where stakeholders are located, organizations must help employees safely access and distribute data and connect to systems. They can do this by proactively facilitating a safe cloud-based workspace and by bolstering the security of cloud connections in the following ways:
Enable effective VPNs
Virtual private networks (VPNs) have long been a go-to method of connecting remote workers to company systems. However, a surge in traffic or an inefficient configuration can result in performance problems, inconveniencing employees and jeopardizing productivity. To accommodate a remote workforce, organizations should first consider revisiting their VPN strategies. An appropriately configured VPN will empower back-office employees to securely access the systems they depend on-without bottlenecks or outages.
One strategy to consider is revisiting your VPN set up. VPNs set up according to geography can be set up according to business function. In doing so, mission-critical functions are permitted access to certain VPNs and unnecessary channel traffic is limited, improving overall performance and user experience.
Another option is the use of firewalls that enable the remote configuration of VPNs. For organizations who are struggling to connect employees to applications or networks, a Next-Gen Firewall with full VPN capabilities can give remote workers access to internal applications via their web browser, without the need for additional software or licenses.
Provide the right level of access to content and applications across your organization
As newly remote workers start to shift working patterns, organizations will need to provide more connections to content and applications in the cloud. In doing so, they'll need to establish security best practices that ensure employees have the appropriate level of access to applications and networks.
Restricting access to critical users can more effectively protect sensitive data and intellectual property. When roles and access rights are appropriately matched and workloads that were formerly inaccessible outside of the office are moved safely into the cloud, the distribution of data is limited and only those who are properly vetted or trained have access the content.
Protect connections to cloud apps and heighten app performance
Many organizations will start to rely more heavily on cloud apps in order to keep their teams connected and collaborative. In order to maintain compliance and proactively protect data, organizations will need to expand more specific data controls for cloud applications. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that security measures that weaken productivity are counterproductive.
As organizations rapidly move more of their workloads into the cloud, they need to seek out cloud-based protections that heighten app performance in the process. In addition to network perimeter defenses and endpoint protection, visibility and control in the cloud will protect organizations from security blindspots. A cloud access security broker (CASB) provides insight into usage patterns, device profiles, high-risk behavior, and anomalies so that malicious behavior or accidental data loss is proactively identified and prevented. When security is prioritized, employees are free to safely work within third-party cloud apps, and productivity is safeguarded.
Remote work presents unique security challenges that will remain relevant as the global workforce dynamic continues to evolve. For more information on how to scale your security strategy to protect people and data everywhere, download this eBook: Making it Safe for Your People to Wok Remotely.