Five Key Steps to Securely Connect your Remote Workforce

The overnight shift of tens of millions of workers from on-site to remote work environments has led to an explosion in the adoption of video collaboration tools and applications. However, many companies took a “connectivity first” approach in their initial response, exposing their organization to a host of new security risks.

June 18, 2021

With social restrictions still in place and 77% of employees worldwide wanting to work remotely, hybrid working models are likely to play a critical role in the future of work.

Our approach is always to protect legacy investments and create a long-term sustainable plan for secure remote working.

This white paper sets out the five key steps that must be part of any long-term plan.

After the initial scramble to enable employees to stay safe by working from home, companies are now able to take stock of the situation and address any security gaps. According to research by security company Malwarebytes, almost one in four organizations (24 per cent) have had to pay unexpected costs to address cybersecurity breaches or malware infections after shelter-in-place orders were imposed.

The future is uncertain, but in the current environment, no one is expecting a full-scale return to the office anytime soon. With social restrictions still in place and 77 percent of employees worldwide wanting to work remotely (Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey), hybrid working models are likely to play a critical role in the future of work.

Intrado is working with a number of organizations to enable a secure and connected remote workforce. Our approach is always to protect legacy investments and create a long-term sustainable plan for secure remote working. This white paper sets out the five key steps we have identified that should be part of any long-term plan.

The future is uncertain, but in the current environment, no one is expecting a full-scale return to the office anytime soon. 

 

Step One: Secure your Corporate Network 

Securing end-to-end connectivity is always a challenge for any company, but for most organizations, the overnight shift to remote working has exposed the network to multiple new risks. These should be addressed as an urgent priority. According to IBM, the average time to identify a breach in 2019 was 206 days, and opportunistic cybercriminals will be looking to exploit any areas of vulnerability. Homeworkers typically don’t have the same safeguards as they do in the office, which means each individual could be putting the entire network at risk. Without internet proxy, NAC, IDS and NGFW, client devices will now be sitting exposed on potentially unsecured networks amongst potentially compromised devices. To compound this, many organizations have turned off client certificate authentication protecting web services to enable employees to use their personal devices for work.

Internal network security may also have been compromised. For example, remote workers may have been given VPN access to resources previously only accessible on a wired network in one location, opening the door to malware spread. There’s a lot of pressure on the back-end to keep systems up and running when employees are trying to access company resources all at the same time. Securing these connections poses an even bigger challenge, as decentralized control makes it difficult to fully protect remote workers from malware threats and data breaches. Popular video conferencing application Zoom has made headline news and provided a telling reminder that any pre-existing security vulnerabilities within the application can open the organization up to increased security risk and compromise sensitive information.

Secure Remote Work

 

Embrace modern network architecture

While a handful of companies, who had already modernized their network architecture, have been able to transition to remote work without compromising security; for the majority, the ‘new normal’ has highlighted that an overhaul of network architecture is long overdue.

Historically, VPNs may have offered a security solution; however many were designed for a fundamentally different time and are just not up to the job of enabling an entire organization to use that connection for remote working. And of course, the move to the cloud and ‘As a Service’ models means the VPN may just be adding a redundant connectivity hop. The benefit may be limited for a user trying to connect from home into a solution hosted on Azure or AWS, for example.

The ‘new normal’ has highlighted that an overhaul of network architecture is long overdue. 

 

The modern network is increasingly being designed for cloud services, offering end-to-end security without a single point of aggregation and failure through a VPN. Moving to the cloud can be a big step towards securing your network server infrastructure, but your cloud solution also needs to be configured correctly so you can maximize the security protection it offers. For example, many cloud solutions provide the facility to monitor keywords and report unauthorized use of confidential terms, whether that is a project name or a financial report.

An expert partner such as Intrado can help you navigate the modern networking technology landscape to decide what is right for you, from SD-WAN, to SBC locations to carrier peering and direct routing.