Going again to workplace networks, solely to dismantle them as soon as and for all

It feels virtually unbelievable that after over a yr of getting to work at home, we’ve got lastly reached a stage when, because of the rising vaccination charges and different efforts by governments, life appears to be returning to virtually regular. Alas, for many individuals this not solely means a chance to go to a theatre or a pub after an extended break, but in addition the looming prospect of returning to their places of work.

Again in early 2020, after we first confronted nationwide lockdowns, IT staff discovered themselves preventing for the survival of their companies as a result of only a few firms had been ready to help a totally distant workforce. Thankfully, most had been in a position to adapt throughout the first months of the pandemic. For some companies, Covid was the decisive argument to lastly embrace the cloud. For others, digital providers have even develop into the brand new product. These had been really “attention-grabbing occasions”.

Let’s face it: workplace work is not regular

Quick ahead to June 2021 and it appears that evidently many IT staff – particularly these liable for safety – are trying ahead to the approaching finish of lockdowns as some sort of return to normalcy, going again to the “good outdated occasions”. In actuality, this is likely to be the most important mistake a CISO could make! Even as soon as everyone seems to be totally vaccinated and the remaining restrictions are lifted, the brand new “regular” will likely be nothing like pre-Covid occasions.

First, many individuals like working from house. Some are critically planning to proceed, and are even ready to take a pay reduce or transfer to a special firm to take action. Many companies have additionally appreciated the associated fee and time financial savings, to say nothing concerning the profound environmental influence of distant working.

Finally, many firms must redesign their workplace areas to place extra emphasis on shared workplaces and hotdesking, in addition to to cater to the sharp improve in teleconferencing and distant collaboration, even in places of work.

For individuals in IT and cyber safety, this implies there’s merely no going again to the outdated idea of perimeter safety. Even probably the most conservative firms that had been nonetheless clinging to their firewalls, VPNs and on-premise functions needed to lastly make a leap of religion and undertake fashionable, cloud-native alternate options to accommodate their distant staff and to make sure their security and compliance outdoors of the normal company perimeter.

These days, the native space community (LAN) is the least protected a part of the company community, and returning workplace staff will solely make the state of affairs worse. Masks and checks might assist defend in opposition to Covid within the office, however what’s going to assist in opposition to ransomware and phishing assaults?

Zero belief: not a buzzword anymore, however a strategic purpose

Does it imply, nonetheless, that we now have to put money into extra safety instruments to guard our places of work from the sudden influx of latest exterior and inner menace actors? Effectively, sure and no.

The largest enemy of safety is complexity, and including safety controls particularly for workplace staff is a waste of time and cash. A extra smart technique is to make sure that the identical safety stack can defend any employee, inside and outdoors of the workplace, together with staff working from house, cellular staff, contractors and different companions.

In sensible phrases, this implies extending the definition of a distant employee to everybody throughout the organisation. Anybody ought to be capable to expertise the identical stage of productiveness and safety from cyber threats inside or outdoors of the workplace, transferring seamlessly between IT environments like cell phones between cell towers. Evidently, probably the most radical technique of attaining this seamless behaviour is by eliminating the very notion of an area community – the one and solely holy grail of zero belief!

This buzzword has been a well-liked matter for dialogue amongst IT specialists for years, typically resulting in a lot confusion amongst individuals pondering they will buy zero-trust networks as turnkey options. Nonetheless, whereas that is positively not the case, adopting a zero-trust safety mannequin is less complicated than many individuals consider, offering they’ve a correct long-term technique.

Along with deploying numerous applied sciences – which many firms may have already got accomplished exactly due to Covid – it would require firms to revamp some organisational ideas or enterprise processes as nicely. However the outcome will all the time result in the general simplification and unification of IT infrastructures, decreased prices and administration overheads, and, hopefully, elevated worker productiveness and satisfaction.

It’s time to retire the LAN

Step one on this strategic journey in direction of zero belief will be fairly easy: simply fake that your workplace not has an area space community. Even when a employee is again at their outdated desk, deal with their gadgets as if they had been nonetheless working from house – for instance, solely allow them to hook up with the visitor Wi-Fi community.

After all, if in case you have been counting on old-school VPN options for all these months, this may trigger issues, however in case you’re already utilizing a cloud-based zero-trust community entry (ZTNA) platform to supply safe connectivity to your company functions, it ought to work fully transparently – in or out of the workplace. As an additional advantage, this strategy will defend your legacy LAN from lateral actions of a possible malicious actor, exterior or inner.

The identical applies to safe entry service edge (SASE) options that ship safety capabilities immediately from the cloud – even when they can not but totally substitute your fastidiously configured stack of on-premise safety home equipment, they will most likely present 80% of safety for simply 20% of the associated fee, within the workplace, at house or anyplace in between.

If there’s any silver lining behind the entire Covid catastrophe, it’s that each one these cloud-based options have been totally battle-tested and may accommodate the necessities of even the most important companies.

The world has modified profoundly over the previous 15 months, and there will likely be no return to pre-Covid occasions any time quickly. As a substitute of lamenting the loss, nonetheless, we must always embrace the brand new regular, proceed adopting fashionable safety applied sciences, and use this distinctive alternative to eliminate the large technical debt of our legacy IT infrastructures. If accomplished strategically, it ought to be a win-win state of affairs for everybody. Effectively, excluding hackers, maybe.

Alexei Balaganski is lead analyst at KuppingerCole and a specialist in synthetic intelligence and cyber safety. At KuppingerCole, he covers a broad vary of cyber subjects together with database, software and API safety, safety analytics, date safety, and AI-based safety automation. He holds a grasp’s diploma in utilized arithmetic and laptop science, and likewise beforehand served as KuppingerCole’s chief expertise officer.


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