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

It feels nearly unbelievable that after over a yr of getting to do business from home, we’ve got lastly reached a stage when, due to the rising vaccination charges and different efforts by governments, life appears to be returning to nearly regular. Alas, for many individuals this not solely means a possibility 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 corporations have been ready to assist a totally distant workforce. Luckily, most have been capable of adapt throughout the first months of the pandemic. For some companies, Covid was the decisive argument to lastly embrace the cloud. For others, digital companies have even turn into the brand new product. These have been really “fascinating instances”.

Let’s face it: workplace work is not regular

Quick ahead to June 2021 and evidently many IT staff – particularly these chargeable for safety – are wanting ahead to the upcoming finish of lockdowns as some form of return to normalcy, going again to the “good previous instances”. In actuality, this is perhaps the most important mistake a CISO could make! Even as soon as everyone seems to be absolutely vaccinated and the remaining restrictions are lifted, the brand new “regular” will probably be nothing like pre-Covid instances.

First, many individuals like working from residence. Some are significantly planning to proceed, and are even ready to take a pay minimize or transfer to a distinct firm to take action. Many companies have additionally appreciated the associated fee and time financial savings, to say nothing in regards to the profound environmental impression of distant working.

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

For folks in IT and cyber safety, this implies there’s merely no going again to the previous idea of perimeter safety. Even essentially the most conservative corporations that have been nonetheless clinging to their firewalls, VPNs and on-premise purposes needed to lastly make a leap of religion and undertake trendy, 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 exams might assist defend towards Covid within the office, however what is going to assist towards ransomware and phishing assaults?

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

Does it imply, nonetheless, that we now have to spend money on extra safety instruments to guard our places of work from the sudden influx of recent exterior and inner risk actors? Nicely, sure and no.

The most important enemy of safety is complexity, and including safety controls particularly for workplace staff is a waste of time and money. 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 workers working from residence, cell 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, shifting seamlessly between IT environments like cellphones between cell towers. For sure, essentially the most radical technique of reaching 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 preferred matter for dialogue amongst IT consultants for years, typically resulting in a lot confusion amongst folks pondering they’ll buy zero-trust networks as turnkey options. Nonetheless, whereas that is undoubtedly 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 varied applied sciences – which many corporations may have already got performed exactly due to Covid – it would require corporations to revamp some organisational rules or enterprise processes as nicely. However the consequence will at all times result in the general simplification and unification of IT infrastructures, lowered 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 the direction of zero belief might be fairly easy: simply fake that your workplace not has an area space community. Even when a employee is again at their previous desk, deal with their gadgets as if they have been nonetheless working from residence – for instance, solely allow them to hook up with the visitor Wi-Fi community.

In fact, in case you have been counting on old-school VPN options for all these months, this may trigger issues, however should you’re already utilizing a cloud-based zero-trust community entry (ZTNA) platform to supply safe connectivity to your company purposes, it ought to work fully transparently – in or out of the workplace. As an additional benefit, 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’t but absolutely change your fastidiously configured stack of on-premise safety home equipment, they’ll in all probability present 80% of safety for simply 20% of the associated fee, within the workplace, at residence 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 probably be no return to pre-Covid instances any time quickly. As an alternative of lamenting the loss, nonetheless, we must always embrace the brand new regular, proceed adopting trendy safety applied sciences, and use this distinctive alternative to do away with the massive technical debt of our legacy IT infrastructures. If performed strategically, it needs to be a win-win state of affairs for everybody. Nicely, 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, utility and API safety, safety analytics, date safety, and AI-based safety automation. He holds a grasp’s diploma in utilized arithmetic and pc science, and likewise beforehand served as KuppingerCole’s chief expertise officer.

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