With the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has moved from a company perk to a hard requirement. Social distancing government mandates have forced complete office closures completely transforming how and where people work. With people working from home and connected to business applications running in the cloud, the notion of an office building representing the company network has vanished overnight.
The reality is the notion of a fixed company network being defined by network connections within the company buildings was just a mere illusion. Take a look at the modern laptop. Does it have a wired ethernet port? Unless it’s in a museum, more than likely the only network connection on the laptop is a wireless one.
If that’s the case, why would it matter whether that laptop is being connected to video conferencing in the company’s conference room or a video conference being held from home? There is no more of a guarantee that the laptop in the company conference room is connected to the company’s network than the one connected at home. The laptop in the company conference room is just as likely to be connected to the neighbor’s wireless network making it remote when in fact the user is physically in the office.
SaaS business applications have transformed the world so quickly that most have missed the fact that the notion of having buildings define a secure network perimeter is no longer possible. All users need to use cloud applications is a network connection. That network connection can be anywhere.
If you could force users to connect to the secure office network to access those applications that would be ideal. But the reality is that a network security strategy focused on forcing data through a company network is not only challenging, but most likely counterproductive. How productive can users be sending all of their data from their homes to the office, just to forward that data to cloud applications? Certainly, that would result in slow cloud applications and poor video conferencing due to the unnecessary transfers of data to the office when in fact the applications lives in the cloud.
The reality is that the laptop is the network perimeter. The network begins and ends at the laptop or device itself. What network the laptop connects to is irrelevant and should be considered untrusted. The same network connections used to connect to cloud business applications are the ones the hackers use to infect devices and hijack data. The laptop itself is the new network perimeter, not the traditional office buildings that once defined them.
All of the strategies used to securely connect network devices is fundamentally changing too. Much like the physical office once defined the network, physical network security appliances defined the network cybersecurity strategy. Those network security appliances are moving to cloud network security services. With devices being the new network perimeter, those devices connect to the cloud network security service to access business applications that live in the cloud. This makes connections to cloud business applications faster and more efficient, which of course increases productivity.
Given the laptop is the new office, did the office ever close? All applications are available in the cloud and users can access those applications from anywhere. The cloud has enabled productivity in a world where physical offices are inaccessible. The only thing that needs to catch up is our mindset that the office is not a building, it’s sitting on your lap while you work from home.