Smart security for remote work

The digital transformation is changing the world of work and the effects of this development are also noticeable for the IT department. Remote work, cloud computing and personal, unmanaged mobile devices bring with them numerous new risk factors that require agile, effective security measures. This also changes the way IT professionals work.

The effects of digital transformation are making themselves felt in the business world on numerous levels. Typical company processes can also be continued virtually. A product presentation, for example, can be streamed live, the meeting with the department can take place as an online meeting and collaboration can take place regardless of time and location via shared file storage locations and by e-mail, team chat or telephone call. Digitization opens up opportunities for companies to fundamentally re-evaluate work processes and design them according to different aspects. This enables them to develop and introduce new work models that better suit the preferences of the employees.

In the course of this, employees are no longer constantly at the company location, but want to be able to fall back on the possibility of being able to do their work from home or wherever they want. At the moment, it looks like companies will increasingly rely on hybrid working models in the near future: Face-to-face operations will be continued, with parallel home offices at agreed times or permanently for part of the workforce. In order to ensure flexibility and seamless workflows for the heterogeneous user base in a simple manner, cloud technologies, SaaS applications and mobile devices are increasingly being used on the IT side.

New challenges for IT teams
As far as security is concerned, companies are faced with increased risks and increased administrative costs: the security measures that prevail in the office cannot be scaled at will. A secured network access via VPN for example, it can cause problems if too many external users use it. There are latencies and thus interruptions in the workflow, which in turn leads to complaints to the IT department. Employee behavior is also more dangerous in a remote work scenario: social engineering tactics used by cybercriminals to smuggle in malware or infiltrate the IT system are more likely to succeed if the victim is isolated from colleagues who could possibly prevent rash action. In the home office, numerous dangers lurk in everyday work for every employee: Visiting an infiltrated website, clicking on malicious e-mail links, saving company data in non-approved applications or on private end devices: the worst-case scenarios, the consequences for the entire company are numerous.

This extremely broad attack surface, which holds a large variety of possible gateways, is difficult for IT teams to get under control with the resources available to them on site. With more external access, more events and data are generated that test the capabilities of your existing security solutions. SIEM solutions, in which all of a company’s data sources from multiple environments come together, including cloud and on-premises applications, consequently generate a greater number of alarms than usual. It is also not uncommon for personnel capacities to monitor them to be scarce are.

Hybrid environments set new security priorities
IT departments are therefore faced with an increased effort that they have to cope with with the same capacities. However, checking and simply processing alarms is a rather mundane task in the long run and can lead to frustration for those responsible. On the other hand, they are faced with changed IT security priorities in hybrid work environments:

  • Data security: Beyond the network perimeter, the approach of protecting the data in it by securing the environment is obsolete. Company data needs immediate protection, for example through encryption. Then even in the event of improper handling or loss, no damage can occur.
  • Protection of risky user behavior: Zero trust principles must also be applicable to home office workers without seriously affecting the way they work.

With solutions such as Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs), companies can establish security at the data level. They ensure that data remains encrypted throughout its utilization cycle and is only accessible to authorized persons. In addition, IT managers can track where the data is located in real time and intervene. For example, if you lose a mobile device, you can remotely delete data. In order to better secure the online behavior of users, it is necessary to increase web security. A Secure Web Gateway (SWG) ensures that endpoints are protected from attacks and reduce the risk of compromise.

Automation and intelligent technologies are changing everyday IT security
However, IT teams can only achieve a satisfactory degree of efficient work in hybrid environments if they manage to apply their existing security guidelines seamlessly and consistently. A simple example is the synchronization of data in cloud applications on managed devices. If you also work from home in addition to the office, a policy is required that prevents synchronization on unmanaged devices. This is the only way companies can guarantee that their data only remains in the storage locations they control.

Automation can make a valuable contribution to policy enforcement. Energy-sapping and rather mundane tasks, such as processing a large number of warning messages with low relevance, can thus be kept to a minimum. Smart security technologies with automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning make work more interesting for those responsible for IT security. It frees you from tedious tasks like copying and pasting URLs into a threat intelligence service, checking for a malicious virus, or checking through notifications for the phishing inbox on a daily basis. IT teams that establish rules and let security solutions take the appropriate measures on their own initiative have more time to deal with problems that require more attention, specialist knowledge and judgment, such as the techniques, tactics and processes of cyber attacks. In interaction with the results and data that smart security technologies provide you, you can use your knowledge for the innovative further development of your security strategy. Instead of just reacting to threats, you can focus more on staying one step ahead of them.

Remote work accelerates smart security
Security technologies have been getting smarter and more reliable for years. The increased remote work, which was prescribed in 2020 due to the pandemic crisis, may have accelerated the trend towards smart security. The capacities that this frees up in IT teams can also result in developments in the labor market. If IT security solutions can take over a large part of the work, analysts have a better chance to make their job more interesting, to develop better and to further develop their specialist knowledge. The more rewarding and empowering the work, the greater the motivation for beginners to enter the profession. There is therefore the possibility that intelligent technologies will help to increase both the qualification and the availability of IT security specialists.

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