• August 18, 2021
  • Catagory remote work

Success of the hybrid office hinges on a “remote first” approach

By : Sanjeev Spolia

It’s time to formalize the hybrid office.

While remote work has been supported by many organizations long before the pandemic, many are still flying by the seat of the pants. Businesses must recognize that not all employees will be returning to the office full time and that many will continue to expect flexibility.

Remote work can no be longer reactive

After nearly 18 months, organizations can no longer view remote work as a short-term response—it now must be done with intention if the hybrid office is to effectively function. Remote work needs to be by design to ensure better collaboration and team building that creates a culture of success. Efforts to support remote work my be strategic and company wide, and it can’t be up to individual employees working offsite to figure out technology solutions, workflows, and processes.

The successful hybrid office requires structure and consistency. The C-suite must play a role in developing a culture as well as policies the foster a healthy work environment while thinking about how technology plays a role in the employee experience so they can work independently and collaboratively.

IT must collaborate with business leaders

The hybrid office means IT teams must adapt to best support remote workers, as well as workers who may straddle both home and office environments.

This includes providing the right equipment or onboarding personal devices to ensure they can be used securely with corporate IT infrastructure, as well as revamping and automating work processes. In addition to providing the necessary collaboration technology, IT must also collaborate with every line of business and the C-suite to create a successful hybrid office culture that’s both productive and secure.

Gone are the days where a handful of employees are working from home or on the road; IT teams must assume every employee may be working remotely sometimes and contribute to providing a level playing field for all staff. While company leadership is critical to setting the tone for a successful hybrid workplace, input from employees should be included when crafting new policies and guidelines, including employee performance metrics—it’s no longer about how many hours you’re in the office.  

Technology is a critical collaboration enabler

When the office is no longer where everything happens, collaboration technology becomes even more essential.

If you only just began implementing collaboration tools company-wide because of the pandemic, now’s the time to formalize the platforms that allow remote workers to be productive and work together effectively. It’s not just about videoconferencing to replicate the in-person meeting experience; you need a robust digital collaboration environment that supports efficient workflows and recognizes that people will be working asynchronously because locations and schedules will be inherently more flexible.

The hybrid office is here to stay for the long haul. A “remote work first” approach is essential for any organizations that want to maintain competitive advantage and grow their bottom line.

  • July 30, 2021
  • Catagory Workplace

Hybrid workplace security must account for the human element

By : Sanjeev Spolia

The hybrid workplace may be the new normal, but the high number of data breaches due to the pandemic don’t have to be. The solution is recognizing that people can be the cause of security incidents but also play a part in preventing them.

The “human element” is involved in as much as 85 percent of all data breaches, according to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report. That’s actually good news—it means there are cultural changes that can be made to influence employee behaviours that will improve hybrid workplace security.

People still fall prey to scams

There are several areas where security is vulnerable because of how people behave, often without any intent to put cybersecurity and data privacy at risk.

The first is around privilege abuse, according to the Verizon study, wherein users have access to IT systems, data and applications that over time leads to compromised credentials that allow threat actors to access sensitive information. In most cases, the privileged user isn’t intentionally looking to cause their organization harm and the data exposure is accidental. However, a disgruntled employee can cause a lot of damage.

In the meantime, employees still fall for phishing scams, and the number of instances where people fall for these socially engineered malicious messages rose significantly during the pandemic, according to Verizon’s analysis. Examples of these scams include payment/delivery scams, invoice phishing, tax-themed phishing, and downloads. Remote workers are more likely to fall for phishing scams, which makes their prevention especially critical for improving hybrid workplace security.

Many data breaches are accidental, but these accidents shouldn’t be confused with carelessness, which can include credentials that aren’t regularly updated or failure to use multifactor authentication. Cybersecurity technologies only go so far without having a standard of behaviour throughout the organization. Employees must be held accountable—effective hybrid workplace security depends on culture as much as technology.

Meet people where they are

The hybrid workplace solidifies the need for every employee to do their part to foster company-wide security rather than putting on the onus on a small group of IT experts to implement and manage cybersecurity technologies. This where the human element becomes part of the solution, not just the potential cause of data breaches.

While it’s critical that remote workers do their best to secure their home office environment, it can be overwhelming for them. Communication and training go a long way to helping them develop good security habits, as well as streamlining the process as much as possible. It’s also important to remember that in the hybrid workplace not all remote employees are the same. Some are experienced road warriors and power users who innately understand they need to secure their mobile endpoints, while other users have got a tad complacent over the years because they’re always online.

Employees who have traditionally worked in offices and felt comfortable leaving their workstation unsecured for a few minutes may not fully appreciate that hybrid workplace security requires a shift in behaviour. There are also always employees who value efficiency over all else, so if they perceive security measures as a barrier to productivity, they will always find shortcuts and workarounds.

Make people part of the solution

Hybrid workplace security needs tools and processes with a short learning curve for all employees to they can be easily adopted and understood as an enabler.

Balancing the human element and technology is critical to securing the hybrid workplace due to its inherent flexibility—employees are shifting constantly between their work and personal lives throughout the day, and that includes the devices they’re working on. Each device along with the software and operating systems they’re running now fall under the purview of corporate security.

From a technology perspective, it means technologies such as Identity and Access Management (IAM) tools are more essential than ever, as are robust security protocols and employee training. However, these must be seen as an enabler, not a roadblock to getting things done. The least technologically savvy employee must be able to blend their daily task with good security habits without a steep learning curve.  

Hybrid workplace security requires the creation of a security-first culture that puts people at its centre by enabling them to improve their workflow while doing their part keep the business secure.

  • July 15, 2021
  • Catagory Workplace

Implement Hybrid Security for the Hybrid Office

By : Justin Folkerts

As offices move to a mix of remote and office work, hybrid security takes on a new meaning. It’s no longer just about securing public cloud services along with on-premises data centers, but also securing the hybrid office.

While many organizations want to go back to pre-pandemic office occupant levels, some are looking at easing into the return to work. The hybrid office will see fewer workers on-site at a time, with employees splitting their time between home and work. Not only do IT teams need to secure remote workers, but they must also be able to secure a workforce that’s even more dynamic. In some ways, every worker is becoming a road warrior that must be kept track of.

Keep tabs on hybrid office traffic

The pandemic brought on a very sudden shift to remote work, but the easy part was every employee was in one place all the time. The hybrid office means workers will be back and forth a lot, and the flow could be uneven and unpredictable, especially if they’re hot desking while on-site.

Hybrid security means you need full visibility and control over all traffic in both your on-premises data center and public cloud platforms, with a clear understanding who is responsibility for security and what the available tools and functions are, but with the added context that many mobile workstations are moving back and forth between two locations. Streamlining applications and platforms, and the tools need to secure the hybrid office, will help to make these traffic patterns clearer. More dashboards to stare at aren’t better.

Employee cybersecurity training and awareness remains key in the hybrid office era. Most business users are not security experts, but people are a critical factor when securing staff who can work anywhere. You need to have policies and controls to govern access to corporate applications, data and infrastructure while also making it easy for people to do their work, so they don’t try to circumvent hybrid security measures. Again, you want to reduce complexity, while still controlling access.

Hybrid security should take a Zero Trust approach

If you want to fully secure your hybrid office, consider taking a Zero Trust approach as to limit user and device access to the applications required to complete work functions.

A Zero Trust architecture assumes everyone is a threat unless they can verify their identify. Requiring employees to do so no matter where they’re working will go a long way to strengthening the security of your hybrid office. Even when employees are in the office—inside the perimeter, so to speak—robust user identification, authentication, authorization, and access permissions remain essential.

In addition to Zero trust approach, you need to always think about security in tandem with networking by leveraging SD-WAN, next-generation firewalls, and advanced routing capabilities. When your employees can work everywhere, your networking becomes a key factor in your hybrid security, just as it does in a hybrid cloud or multi-cloud environment.

Think about flexibility and the future

Many workers want the flexibility of the hybrid office, so you need to consider the future of work as part of your overall security strategy.

Connectivity is key to embracing new cloud platforms and supporting workers wherever they want to work, but it must always be paired with security. You should assume the hybrid office is here to stay and that it will guide your cloud, mobility, and security strategies. A managed security service provider can help you architect your business for the future of work and help you to secure the hybrid office at scale as technologies and threats evolve.

  • June 30, 2021
  • Catagory

Moving to a hybrid cloud requires a roadmap

By : Sanjeev Spolia

If you’re struggling to make the business case for moving to the cloud, consider this: moving to a hybrid cloud allows you to scale up computing, networking and storage capabilities without a significant upfront investment.

Moving to a hybrid cloud also enables you to you to keep some applications and data on-premise if you feel they’re too sensitive for public platforms or if you think your on-premise infrastructure is a more efficient, reliable and secure environment. You can have the best of both worlds by running a private cloud in tandem.

Ultimately, moving to a hybrid cloud lets you choose the best option for each workload so you can move data back and forth as your business requires.

Hybrid cloud is a balancing act

The advantage of public cloud platforms is that it can help you computing resources at the pace of business.

Moving to a hybrid cloud lets you spin up new resources quickly without spending a great deal of cash all at once because the public cloud provider has taken care of investing in the hardware and the staff necessary to manage it. This is especially beneficial for businesses with many locations that must all access the same data and applications, such as remote work endpoints.

Hybrid cloud also enables you to run legacy systems in parallel with “cloud first” IT initiatives and map out over the longer term how you might migrate older systems to the cloud. This allows you to be thoughtful about all the operational considerations that come with moving applications and data to the cloud, such as optimization, ongoing management, and security.

Moving to a hybrid cloud model reduces the amount of on-premise IT you must manage and maintain, but you still need people who understand the public cloud platforms you’ve chosen. Not all platforms are the same, even if the workload is the same. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure may differ in how they handle something as simple as a data backup function. It’s important that you have in-house cloud skills while also consider partnering with a cloud services provider.

This is especially important when it comes to security because your IT team is still responsible for some elements of it, and it varies depending on the public cloud provider. Regardless of the platform, cloud security is a shared responsibility. You need to understand what aspects of security you’re responsible for configuring and what the public cloud provider is taking care of. Otherwise, you increase the potential for security incidents that result in data breaches, compliance failures, lost customers and lost revenue.

Improve how you do things

Moving to a hybrid cloud is also an opportunity to improve your business processes and how you do things day to day.

You won’t get the benefits of cloud applications, either in the public cloud or your own private cloud, if your migration plan doesn’t reflect your strategic business goals. When you move data and applications off legacy IT, you need to look at how you’re going optimize your business functions; otherwise, you’re just replicating existing inefficiencies over to new technologies.

You only gain the efficiencies and cost effectiveness of the hybrid cloud if you spend smarter. It’s not just about moving to the cloud, it’s about moving the right applications and data to the appropriate cloud. Your primary driver for moving to a hybrid cloud should be optimizing your business, and you still need to make a business case for it because it does require financial investment.

Even if you’re only now just looking at how to leverage the cloud for your business, an incremental approach in partnership with a cloud services provider can help you find the right mix public and private cloud and on-premises systems so you can get the benefits that come with moving to a hybrid cloud.

  • June 17, 2021
  • Catagory Workplace

Legacy IT hampers hybrid workplaces

By : Sanjeev Spolia

The move to remote work was a stark reminder of how legacy IT infrastructure can thwart agility and responsiveness. With hybrid workplaces expected to be the new normal, these issues must be dealt with.

These legacy IT infrastructures can comprise software and systems architectures that have been in place for years or possibly decades. Not only do they make it more difficult to securely support hybrid workplaces, but they can also be a barrier to customer-centric commerce and an organization’s digital transformation efforts.

However, legacy IT infrastructure can be upgraded so you can evolve your platforms to effectively support hybrid workplaces and future proof the organization to meet the challenges of your industry and bolster your security posture.

Legacy IT adds risk to hybrid workplaces

Legacy IT infrastructure is more common in some industries than others, and their impact on the ability to be nimble and flexible in delivering products, services, and support employees at the office and at home can vary widely.

One example that illustrates this digital divide is in the financial services sector, where young fintech companies can challenge large incumbent financial institution. They’re embracing a customer-centric, iterative approach to software development and adopting cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings to meet the needs of business users. Regardless of industry, companies embracing these technologies successfully made the sudden shift to remote work at the start of the pandemic and are in a better position to support hybrid workplaces because they are not anchored by legacy IT infrastructures.

These companies have also avoided what is called “technical debt,” which research firm IDC defines as “work left to do.” If an organization accumulates too much of this debt because of budget pressures and deferred technology investment, legacy IT infrastructures can become brittle to the point where it has a significant impact on business operations.

Technical debt is often left undiscovered until the organization looks to implement major changes as part of their digital transformation efforts or respond to a sudden shift such as the move to remote work or hybrid workplaces. Not only is it hard to identify, it’s also hard for IT people to explain the liabilities and consequences of technical debt to business leaders. Even worse, the phenomenon of “bimodal IT,” wherein legacy systems are maintained while modern technologies and development approaches are adopted concurrently, makes technical debt worse because you end of up two different streams of IT.  You have one that’s nimble and responsive and one that has legacy IT infrastructure that is difficult to manage and secure.

If organizations want to avoid serious consequences and be able to support hybrid workplaces for the long term, they need a plan to migrate away from legacy IT infrastructures completely and avoid bimodal IT.

Start swapping

Legacy IT infrastructures place a heavy burden on security, which is already a serious challenge in the remote work era.  Whether your goal is to embrace digital transformations or support hybrid workplaces, you need to leave legacy IT systems behind.

While it may not be possible to fully eliminate legacy IT infrastructures immediately or completely, a managed cloud services provider can help identify low hanging fruit, applications and data that can be lifted and shift to the cloud, and help you build a modern architecture that better secures remote and supports hybrid workplaces.

  • May 31, 2021
  • Catagory Security

Bolster your wireless security in the hybrid workforce era

By : Justin Folkerts

After more than a year of focusing on securing remote workers, it’s time to prepare your office for a hybrid workforce and reinforce your wireless security.

The threats to your on-site wireless security haven’t gone away and having workers who are in and out of your office post-pandemic ends means the network security landscape is just as dynamic as ever. The hybrid workforce is a stark reminder that there is no network perimeter, and you must constantly review your network security checklist—Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), the Internet of Things (IoT), and ubiquitous connectivity remain important considerations.

Secure your office for a hybrid workforce

As people come back to office, the best practices for wireless security are more important than ever, especially as many employees may no longer have a permanent office or workspace as hot desking becomes more prevalent. In addition to guests, you’ll have employees connecting to your office network on-site in an inconsistent manner with devices that are connecting a variety of other networks, whether it’s the employee’s home network or a wi-fi hotspot as it becomes possible to work from coffee shops again.

Now is a great time to review your management policy for all IT endpoints and provide refresher courses on wireless security for your staff. For some organizations, a hybrid workforce was already familiar to them before the pandemic, but for others it will be just as jarring as going fully remote. Given that you’re about to experience another paradigm shift, it can’t hurt to bring an outside partner to evaluate your current wireless security posture.

What’s in a name

A good place to start is to review your inventory of wireless routers access points.

No matter how many you have or where they are located, you should review their service set identifiers (SSIDs) to make sure they are suitably named as to be found by authorized users, but not so easy for unwanted guests to connect to because the names are obvious or remain the factory default. Your network naming should be just as well thought out password selection—avoid creating one that’s likely to help a hacker guess the network password. Rotating passwords and SSIDs can also make it harder for devices and networks to be breached, and the more unique, the better.

With a hybrid workforce, you may want to segment your network so that transient employees have dedicated wireless access points to connect to that are separate from employees who are back on-site full time. Either way, you should hide your SSID so only users who know the actual wireless network name can search it out.

Apply access controls

Even before the advent of the hybrid workforce, there was never a need for every employee to access the same network resources or devices. Just as you segment wireless router access, consider giving specific users access to specific devices such as network printers depending on whether they’re occasionally on-site or in the office everyday.

No one needs to be connected to every device in the organization, so segmenting access will limit the impact of a breach should one endpoint be compromised. At the end of the day, not all employees are equal, including post-pandemic visitors, who wireless access for their mobile devices. Adopting a Zero Trust model for wireless security can go a long way because it’s based on the mindset that organizations shouldn’t automatically trust anything inside or outside its perimeter—every connection must be verified, whether it’s an endpoint, switch or IP address if the organization is to prevent breaches.

Secure and scan everything

Wireless security demands that all access points been encrypted, and yet surprisingly, many wireless networks are left wide open, making them easy avenues for threat actors to gather sensitive information, or as a means to gateway to hack more secure systems.

No matter how stringent your wireless security, it’s often just a of time before someone or something gets past the firewall because today’s cyber threats are so persistent. The trick is to balance security with productivity—you don’t want it to be a barrier to getting things done, otherwise employees will find shortcuts around it whether they’re working at home or in the office.

If you’re feeling rusty about in-office wireless security and would like a refresher to prepare your organization for the hybrid workforce, seek out the help of a managed security services provider.

  • May 18, 2021
  • Catagory Security

Remote Work Drives Zero Trust Security Adoption

By : Justin Folkerts

The Zero Trust model for security isn’t new, but it’s getting more attention due to the massive shift to remote work.

Also known as the Zero Trust Network or Zero Trust Architecture, it’s a model that was first created more than 10 years ago by then Forrester Research analyst John Kindervag. It has since become more mainstream thanks in part due to the evolution of security technologies, but also because remote work has made it more challenging to secure enterprise networks.

The ABCs of Zero Trust

Zero Trust isn’t just a suite of technologies you buy. It’s a security model based on the foundational belief that organizations shouldn’t automatically trust anything inside or outside its perimeter—every connection must be verified, whether it’s an endpoint, switch or IP address if the organization is to prevent breaches.

Even before the massive uptick in remote work last year, the Zero Trust model recognized that organizations already have an increasingly porous network perimeter—it was no longer a castle surrounded by a moat. The old model assumed everything already inside was cleared for access. The Zero Trust model is a paradigm shift in that it assumes everything is a threat it until it’s certified safe. It also recognizes that once a hacker gains access via a single vulnerable spot, they can easily move around the enterprise network and attain increasing levels of access.

Zero Trust combines technologies with governance policies as to segment access at a granular level, taking into account the user, their location, and other information to decide whether to authorize any user, device or application. It’s not enough to authenticate the user, even if it is the CEO or CFO, but also the device they are using to gain access to the enterprise network, and where they are physically. Even if the user can be authenticated, policy may decide that the location—a coffee shop Wi-Fi hotspot, for example—isn’t secure enough. Or, it may decide that the user can’t access the network with a personal device, only one that was issued by the organization.

While technologies such as multifactor authentication, analytics, encryption, and file system permissions all play a role in a Zero Trust architecture, governance policies and good habits are just as critical to realizing its benefits, and that includes remote work environments.

Applying Zero Trust to Remote Work

For organizations to truly benefit from a Zero Trust model in the era of remote work, the same mindset must be brought into the home.

Whether they’re accessing the Internet for work or personal reasons, users need to apply a Zero Trust approach that keeps the wrong people out. And it’s more than just security awareness training or a strong password policy. Users at home should always be questioning every interaction online, including emails and texts with links, and communications that seem out of character by the sender, even if it appears to come from an official source. Phishing attempts and other attacks rely heavily on complacency, so a Zero Trust requires vigilance out of habit.

A common threat to enterprise network security in the remote work era is sharing passwords across work and personal devices and granting access to corporate devices to family members for personal use. The average person may think this is harmless, but a Zero Trust model requires that every employee think about their behaviour from a security perspective. Careless uses of a corporate device by a family member could compromise the enterprise network and lead to a data breach.

Zero Trust means password and device sharing a no-no. Every home user should have their own separate passwords and device as much as possible, and devices should either be for personal use or corporate use, not both.

These habits and overall mindset are essential to successfully applying a Zero Trust approach to security in the organization, regardless of where employees are doing their work. Having the right technology is a critical enabler, but you need the right governance policies and employee engagement if you’re to fully secure your business.

  • April 29, 2021
  • Catagory Security

5 Things You Can Do to Secure Remote Work Environments

By : Justin Folkerts

If you’re looking for ways to secure remote work environments, there’s no shortage of dos and don’ts.

And while there’s always a danger of impeding employee productivity with cumbersome security, there are polices and procedures that balance threat protection with efficient business operations so that you can secure remote work environments without creating barriers to getting things done. Often, it’s just as much about how you implement security, not just what implement.

Encryption should be end to end

Security implementation should never be half-hearted, which is why bi-directional encryption of data and communications is an essential enabler of secure remote work environments. Ideally, you should embrace the cloud so you can leverage a web platform that is completely secure so it’s the primary means for remote employees to get their work done. You should also use strong VPN connections to secure remote work environments. All it takes is one vulnerable employee to be exploited by a threat actor to put your entire network at risk.

Secure all devices

Similarly, all workstations and devices accessing applications and data via your network must be fully secured without any workarounds—that includes the executive team. Giving one employee a pass to use a smartphone or laptop that doesn’t adhere to security policies and procedures is a data breach waiting to happen. Take advantage of tools that evaluate the vulnerability of all devices, and make sure all of them can be managed and updated from a central location by the IT team.

Contain any breaches

Because it only takes one device or one employee to open the door to the broader network, you need to secure remote work environments in such a way where access to a single workstation doesn’t lead to wider access to other systems. Your policies, procedures and chosen tools should mitigate against a domino effect where a single intrusion via one employee’s credentials or workstation can lead to threat actors taking down other systems or your entire network.

Clearly define security policies and communicate goals

Secure remote work environments are more likely to stay secure if you clearly outline security objectives and make it easy for employees to comply. Otherwise, they will find workarounds to make their lives easier, thereby making any security policies and procedures ineffective.

Put someone in charge

Even smaller organizations should designate someone to act as their Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), even if it’s not their only duties on the IT team. The organization will benefit from someone taking point on all things security, including the selection and implementation of tools, the development of policies and procedures, and being the point of contact for both employees and the executive team.

Even if you do have an IT team member who takes on responsibility for security, you may find there’s value in getting external support to help secure remote work environments. A Managed Security Services Provider can help you evaluate your current security posture, make recommendations, and help deploy the right tools, either on a project-by-project basis or through an ongoing partnership.

  • April 19, 2021
  • Catagory Security

Remember these do’s and don’ts for securing remote workers

By : Justin Folkerts

Securing remote workers is a never-ending job, regardless of how many there are at your organization, because there’s always new threats and new attack surfaces to protect.

After a while, it becomes clear to any cybersecurity expert that there are both do’s and don’ts when it comes to securing remote workers. These lessons are based on hard-won experience—in some cases because they’ve experienced a serious breach. However, there’s no reason that every organization needs to learn the hard way, so here’s some of the top mistakes your organization and your employees should avoid when securing remote workers, followed by do that are proven to work.

What not to do when securing remote workers

There’s many things employees shouldn’t do with their office computer and it’s important that you have policies in place to keep them from doing them.

  • Don’t tolerate workarounds: Good security should never get in the way of employee productivity or impede business success, but it’s not uncommon for cybersecurity practices to constrain workers so that prompt them to find a way around a security policy. These workarounds might include employees using personal computers to access corporate networks and data without proper vetting of IT or exchanging documents using their personal email addresses saving passwords in the browsers. Employees need to understand the rules are there for reason.
  • Do not ignoring warning signs: With more workers at home, it’s even harder to keep an eye on your fleet of workstations, so you need to make sure employees aren’t ignoring any hints their computer at home is under attack. Unexpected browser pop-ops or a sudden change in user settings are signs that unauthorized changes have been made and that the employee’s workstation has compromised. Ignoring these signs could lead to a much bigger problem that could impact the network security of the entire organization.
  • Don’t let family use the company computer: With a corporate workstation at home during the pandemic, family members of remote workers may be tempted to use it for non-work-related activities that can lead to clicking on a link that infects the devices and compromises company data and applications.
  • Don’t delay software updates and patches: When employees are in the middle of getting work done, they may be inclined to postpone much needed software updates and scheduled security scans when prompted. But the best way to keep workstations secure, no matter where they’re located, is by making sure they have the latest software updates, virus definitions, and other patches. Even in the era where many use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, operating system and application updates are still critical for robust security.

A few do’s that can go a long way

Some of the above don’ts suggest some do’s that should be happening instead, but here are few other key other do’s that go a long way to securing remote workers.

  • Empower and train your workers: If employees understand why security measures are put in place and are given ways of getting things done quickly and efficiently without workarounds, they’re a great asset for protecting the organization. When you have the right people with the right training, it’s hard for a threat actor to gain a foothold within you network.
  • Make the move to the cloud: If you haven’t already, migrate your data and applications to the cloud as much as possible. The fewer applications and data that reside on the workstation, the better. While SaaS security has its own set of challenges, a centralized cloud approach is easier to manage, especially in a pandemic, and easier anytime for SMBs with limited IT resources.
  • Take a zero-trust approach: The cloud can be an effective security enabler for taking a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) stance. It’s a mindset that’s becoming increasingly preferred because it assumes anything in a network can be a threat and separates remote workers from the network. User access is determined by third-party cloud provider to manage verifications and access to applications. If users don’t have the credentials, then they can’t access data and applications they’re not supposed, even they are legitimately employees of the company.
  • Get second a opinion: When it comes to evaluating your security posture, it never hurts get an outside to take a look at what you’re doing and making sure it’s aligned with your goals. And if you’re new to securing remote workers, a Managed Security Services Provider can fill in the gaps, whether it’s just a risk assessment with recommendations or helping with ongoing management of your network security.

The security landscape dynamic even when you don’t have many employees working from home. Having clear policies and procedures in place is an important foundation for securing remote workers, but partnering with a managed services provider that can help you leverage the cloud, implement best practices and policies, and spot common pitfalls improve your overall security posture no matter how many remote workers you have.

  • March 31, 2021
  • Catagory Security

SaaS security is essential, remote work or not

By : Justin Folkerts

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are especially appealing when you’ve got more of you’re your employees working from home, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing SaaS security is less vulnerable than the rest of your network security.

Although some SaaS security is baked into the applications by the software provider, the 50 per cent increase in cloud usage for enterprises across all industries in 2020 means the number of threats have increased exponentially, according to IBM Security’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report. It found attacks directed at cloud services, particularly collaboration tools such as Office 365, have increased 630 per cent. Remote work due to the pandemic has been a big contributor to SaaS security incidents, as three quarters of survey respondents reported that discovery and recovery time from data breaches has significantly increased.

It’s not surprising that SaaS security is an increasing concern as threat actors will always go after applications, systems and tools that are popular with businesses and users—it increases the likelihood of success because for them, it’s a numbers game. The increase in attacks is a reminder that regardless of the cloud platform you choose, your provider does bring a lot to the table in terms of SaaS security. However, when you have more than one provider and multiple SaaS applications deployed, you must remember that SaaS security is a shared responsibility.

The increase in cloud and SaaS applications deployments coupled with a dramatic increase in remote workers means organizations need a framework to guide their SaaS security.

Complexity threatens SaaS security

When you have so many applications and systems in place, adequate SaaS security can be a challenge, even when cloud providers include their own security controls. Even without the uptick in remote work, endpoints have continued to grow as workers access data and applications from multiple devices from wherever is convenient for them.

With each and every worker, endpoint, and application added to the enterprise network, SaaS security becomes more susceptible to threats because the overall attack surface is larger. Because data is spread across many different applications and environments, the complexity and sprawl raises the risk of compliance and data breaches. Even before the pandemic hit, there was a growing need to bolster SaaS security as lines of business are increasingly spooling up applications as needed, independent of IT supervision—departments such as marketing, human resources, and finance all have their own SaaS applications accessing and managing critical business data and intellectual property.

Organizations may be inclined to add more and more security tools, but the more solutions you have in place, the more work there is to configure, maintain and update them. More people are needed to understand the interfaces and nuances of each and every security tool.

Without some sort of playbook or strategy, SaaS security can quickly become unmanageable.

SaaS security requires a framework and tools

It’s not realistic to have a single security solution to protect all data and applications, but your SaaS security strategy needs to be proactive, not reactive, and ensures your IT team isn’t overwhelmed by alerts from multiple dashboards.

One approach to keep your SaaS security posture robust is what research firm Gartner defines as SaaS Security Posture Management (SSPM), which is part of its SaaS Security Framework. SSPM tools allow for enhanced controls to better secure SaaS applications and data through monitoring native SaaS security configurations, automation of remediation, and reporting non-compliance. The key to any good SSPM solution is the capability to assess your SaaS security posture in a manner that’s automated and customized, according to Gartner. Much like compliance, SaaS security is a continuum that requires constant monitoring and adjustment.

Although SSPM solutions add to the arsenal available for IT teams to establish strong SaaS security, adopting them and moving to a framework that allows these SSPMs to streamline processes, automate workloads and reduce demands on the IT staff do require some upfront work. While cloud providers who are delivering SaaS applications can play a role in helping to configure these solutions to secure their applications, you should consider partnering with a Managed Security Services Partner (MSSP) who can advise on your overall SaaS security, as well as implement and even manage it on an ongoing basis.