Remote access security strategy under scrutiny as hybrid/remote working persists

A report by Menlo Security highlights growing concerns about securing users as the trend for hybrid and remote working is set to remain.

remote access security strategy

The new report – which surveyed 500+ IT decision makers in the U.S. and the U.K., including a third at C-level – looks at attitudes to securing remote access to applications and resources and the adoption of zero trust solutions.

While 83% of respondents say they are confident in their strategy for controlling access to applications for remote users, three-quarters are re-evaluating theirs in the wake of new ways of working and the growth in cloud application use. While half of employees are currently working remotely or adopting a hybrid approach, 42% are expected to continue in 12 months’ time.

According to the findings, 75% of organizations continue to rely on VPNs for controlling remote access to applications, which rises to 81% for organizations of 10,000+ employees. For 36% of organizations a zero trust approach also forms part of their remote access strategy.

“It seems that most businesses are confident in their remote access security, yet are still relying on a traditional and inherently insecure way of doing things using VPNs, which give access to everything on a network,” said Mark Guntrip, senior director, cybersecurity strategy at Menlo Security.

“With only a third currently using zero trust network access, there’s a real opportunity to provide users with access to only those applications and resources needed to do their job. When you start to adopt this approach across everything you do then your whole security mindset changes.”

Implementing zero trust to improve security

The top reason for implementing a zero trust solution is improved security, according to 60% of respondents, regardless of whether they are using it or not. 32% point to ease of use, while speed of access and scalability are both more widely recognised among those already adopting a zero trust approach. Significantly, 40% of respondents believe that implementing a zero trust solution places less pressure on IT.

Despite overall confidence by global IT decision makers in the robustness of their strategy for controlling application access for remote users, the research also shows that:

  • Three-quarters of respondents believe that hybrid and remote workers accessing applications on unmanaged devices poses a significant threat to their organization’s security. Despite this, around a fifth still allow unmanaged devices – laptops, desktops and mobile devices – to connect to corporate applications and resources.
  • While 79% of respondents have a security strategy in place for remote access by third parties and contractors, there are growing concerns about the risks they present, with 53% planning to reduce or limit third party/contractor access to systems and resources over the next 12­–18 months.

Menlo’s Mark Guntrip adds: “As the internet becomes the new corporate network, controlling user access to private applications has become more important than ever. Organizations need to evolve their thinking from providing connectivity to the entire network to segmenting access by each individual application. The right zero trust approach will ensure seamless access between users and the applications they are authorised to use, while all other applications are invisible, preventing lateral discovery across the network.”

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