Remote work is the future, there’s no doubt about that. But what is the future of secure remote work? That is remote work that has been secured against the threats and risks of working online.
Working from home can only be truly viable if it is secured against these threats. Recently CISCO released a report called, “The Future of Secure Remote Work” and they offered some invaluable advice to IT and security teams dealing with the challenges of a secure remote workforce.
We’ve read the report and we’ve rounded up some of the most important knowledge for you.
The Three Key Components Of Secure Remote Working
The Future Of The Way We Work Is Dynamic – Cybersecurity Policies Must Meet The Needs Of This Workforce
The CISCO team in their secure remote work report (you can find all 100 pages of it here) saw that the future is all about remote working.
They note that it will free up both employees and employers to be more productive and flexible in their approach to working. (See our remote work glossary for some of the potential approaches to remote working).
But, they also note that this change to remote work has taken place very rapidly with no real thought given to the future of secure remote work.
The big challenges when it comes to the future of secure remote work are that employees are connecting many devices (such as these budget laptops) to external networks and they are using them for both business and personal needs.
This has created a need for cybersecurity policies that marry the demands of remote work to the kind of security policies that you would operate inside a business.
It’s clear that after the Covid-19 pandemic, that remote workers are here to stay and that remote access may be needed by organizations around the world, but the environment they work in must remain flexible, secure, and safe.
Flexible Hybrid Workers Need Preparation, Collaboration, and Empowerment To Succeed
The CISCO secure remote work report acknowledges how well organizations around the world did when it came to transitioning into remote working behaviors under the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic.
They also note that organizations now need to invest in cybersecurity policies to support the transformation that they have undergone and they note that this has only become a viable investment now that it’s clear that in a post-pandemic world that the changes brought about by Covid-19 are permanent in many organizations, not temporary.
That means secure networks where security does not interfere with the access, collaboration, and work that the employees must carry out.
Business Resilience Depends On Simpler, More Effective Cybersecurity Solutions
Most importantly, the secure remote work report says that distributed businesses must invest in cybersecurity that is simpler and more efficient than solutions in the past.
Security cannot interfere with the way that organizations operate or the impact on productivity could be worse than that of Covid-19.
Resilient organizations will seek to develop cybersecurity that supports the individual worker while securing the data and access necessary to protect the business itself.
The Four Essentials Of Secure Remote Working
The report also offers four takeaways as to what will drive secured access and remote working within organizations. They say that these must become the pillars of corporate cybersecurity.
- Verification – this should be offered on a “zero trust” basis. Zero trust means always confirming someone’s identity prior to offering access to the company data and applications. This zero trust approach offers the highest level of cybersecurity.
- Enabling Work On Any Device – there is no longer any point in companies trying to control the hardware that the workforce uses to accomplish their tasks. “Bring your own device” is now the standard and your security protocols need to support that. That is every device imaginable must be able to form a secured connection with the company applications and data when needed.
- Access That Meets The Needs Of The Worker – it sounds obvious but all too often security processes become detached from the needs of the worker in order to satisfy the demands of the IT department. With a distributed workforce this becomes grossly impractical, security is still essential but it must get out of the way of doing the work.
- Securing Workers From Cyber Threats – this means ensuring that once your workforce is connected to your network, they should be immune to attacks and any threat both within the businesses’ systems and from the wider internet/cloud.
As CISCO acknowledges in the report, this area of cybersecurity is relatively fresh and there are many challenges to getting services and systems in place to head off every threat in a hybrid working environment.
However, companies ignore this need at their peril. The future of work is remote, but if it’s not secure, the future of your business is at risk. It’s that simple.