Take cybersecurity out to where employees and data are coming together

Every morning, we wake up and chances are, we start immediately accessing and consuming information. Whether it’s accessing personal emails, downloading sales reports, or paying bills, we’re switching devices constantly, and are used to managing both our personal and work lives from anywhere.

networking security

Cybercriminals are keenly aware that users are constantly switching between personal and corporate devices, or even blurring the lines between the two. Thanks to cloud technologies, we’ve made huge convenience and productivity gains, but every time we are using these devices, we’re opening the door to potential attacks and exploits.

The trouble is that security is trapped in a vicious game of cat-and-mouse. A breach is discovered, a fix is developed, and the cycle repeats itself. In an industry that is set to have millions of unfilled job vacancies, the solution isn’t to throw more people at the problem, because we simply don’t have them.

A new layer of assurance

We need to radically change how we manage access rights, identity, and permissions on corporate networks. Organizations no longer have a clearly defined perimeter between themselves and the rest of the Internet, and so thinking in those terms is no longer useful. Instead, focus on finding ways to take cybersecurity out to where employees and data are coming together. Zero trust is one way of doing that. Using a guiding principle of “never trust, always verify,” it builds in an additional layer of assurance that users are granted access only to specific data or documents they are authorized to see. They can’t access anything else.

Many data breaches occur from within the business, whether explicitly by employees or by threats that have infiltrated the network. If you’ve already got access to the whole network and the keys to the kingdom, data exfiltration is very straightforward to carry out. What’s more, if there are no data loss prevention technologies in place, the business might not even know it’s happened. Zero trust combats this by removing access from anyone and everyone until identity controls make certain who they are. However, if security tools don’t easily fit how employees get work done, they’ll seek insecure and unofficial workarounds, leading to major shadow IT problems and opportunities threat actors can exploit.

Integrating security and networking

As a growing array of workloads move into the cloud, if cybersecurity is to have any chance of being effective, it must head there too. It allows businesses to access the flexibility they need to adequately protect how a modern, location-agnostic, hybrid workforce operates today.

There are various definitions of secure access service edge (SASE), but it essentially allows for security and networking to be delivered through the cloud, defined and managed from one place. This gives you greater control over access to applications and how data is used. SASE prevents anyone from circumventing access and data controls to make zero trust a reality. Organizations have the ability to more closely manage corporate, unmanaged and personal devices that are being used for work purposes.

From the employee perspective, SASE makes it straightforward to have a single set of security policies to follow them, wherever they happen to be logging on and needing to access applications and data. For example, capabilities like zero trust network access (ZTNA) are a major evolution beyond virtual private networks (VPNs). VPNs aren’t scalable and introduce their own friction, risks, and bottlenecks.

ZTNA can work together with other cloud services like Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and Secure Web Gateway (SWG), data security, and threat prevention to make security simpler and more cost-effective for teams to manage. For the typical organization, they have likely established a series of ad hoc systems and multiple vendors to manage their security, so adopting a SASE architecture, even if it is done gradually, allows organizations to streamline their processes and reduce their spending on several individual point products.

There are further breakthroughs in efficiency that can be made on a networking side of SASE. Software-defined networking (SD-WAN) is one of them – a way of organizing and managing connectivity for remote locations in a centralized way with less work and time-consuming administration.

SD-WAN allows people working remotely or in branch offices to connect to corporate systems and cloud apps through more efficient, affordable local broadband links to the internet. There are various types of SD-WAN solutions but the best ones, known as Secure SD-WAN, integrate security and threat protection alongside the management functionality. Connecting and protecting sites and the entire workforce at a large scale is central to Secure SD-WAN’s role within a SASE approach.

Moving cybersecurity into the cloud is the only way adequately secure the way we all move through our work lives. With one tool to manage instead of many, with consistent policies applied automatically, management headaches and costs are reduced drastically. It’s time to make cybersecurity fit how we work, not the other way around.

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