Your employees are ready for hybrid work. Is your network?
22/3/23, 9:00 am
Hybrid work can be the best of both worlds. It combines the creativity and productivity of remote work with the connectivity and collaboration of the office. And it can foster a new level of innovation for organisations.
With the highest percentage of hybrid workers globally (34%), Australia also leads the way, with 50% of workplaces supporting hybrid work.
For remote workforces to remain sustainable, the ability to effectively collaborate to feed innovation in a secure network is critical.
The need for remote collaboration
A significant challenge of the remote workforce is providing a consistent user experience regardless of team members working from their home office, hotel room, or on-site.
Collaboration can be hampered by workflows and access; some essential files may be on the company’s central server, while others are in the Cloud or located on a specific employee device.
Remote collaboration is key to ensuring employees working from home or remotely can still work closely with their colleagues. When you can’t physically drop into each other’s offices or grab a conference room down the hall, you need the tools to make it happen virtually.
Effective and efficient remote collaboration solutions that accommodate how users share information in real time – like messaging, voice calls, and in-person meetings – are business critical for any organisation with remote or hybrid workforces.
Why hybrid work remains a security challenge
Hybrid work broadens the attack surface of an organisation through increased endpoints, applications, and data stored in multiple locations. Organisations must also ensure the security of cloud-based applications and services, and have a trusted threat detection and response by internal cybersecurity teams or external partners.
Maintaining network access and delivering a consistent user experience across both cloud and on-prem infrastructure is a challenge – as is the security risk of an ever-increasing network footprint. This risk is impacted by:
- Using work devices at home – and home devices for work. Personal devices are less secure than those issued and configured by your company’s IT department. If a work computer is stolen outside of the office, it may reveal corporate login credentials or other confidential information.
- Connecting over unsecured networks. Home wireless networks are much less secure than a corporate network. Employees connecting from home are at risk of having their connections hacked which exposes sensitive data stored on their devices and may open the gate to your broader corporate network.
- Lack of security training and awareness. Most remote workers made the transition without any prior training on changing security threats. Employees who aren’t aware of the risks are more susceptible to phishing, hacking, and other cyberattacks.
“Hybrid work is a boon for many organisations and individuals – but without the right technology stack it can present a very real threat to data integrity, security, collaboration and innovation.”
Pankit Mehta, National Portfolio Manager, NEC Australia
A 2022 index saw 79% of US organisations agree that remote working had adversely affected their cybersecurity and increased the burden on their security teams. Almost half (45%) had recently experienced mobile-related compromise.
Must-haves to secure remote workers
In a work-from-anywhere world, employees expect consistent user experience across tools and applications. Organisations must balance network speed, reliability and security to support a changing workforce profile.
- Use strong passwords that differ across devices and accounts
- Keep remote devices updated with the latest patches and security updates
- Educate remote workers about cyber security and the risks of unsecured networks
- Add multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all remote user accounts
- Use data loss prevention (DLP) solutions to prevent and detect data leakage
- Apply Zero Trust Network Access principles to create an encrypted tunnel between remote users and the network
- Use endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions to protect systems and data
Why choose NEC’s managed network
Managed network services can reduce the internal IT burden and enhance network performance and security.
- Access to IT experts – bypass the skill shortage
- Greater visibility – access 24/7 monitoring
- End-to-end control – bring technology and communications together
- Enhanced security – regular patching and updates
- Control costs – fixed fees for budget predictability
- Quick action – fast response to outages
- Inspire innovation – focus on business-critical tasks
- Composable – Modular services model to suit every organisation
How SDN and SASE help protect your network and hybrid workforce
Threats are rising, attacks are sophisticated, and it’s unlikely you can spend your way out of a cyber crisis. Given the complexity of the current security environment, security-driven networking (SDN) may be a good place to start.
SDN is a network management approach focused on security as well as performance. Implementing SDN protocols and policies protects organisations from:
- malicious activity like data breaches or phishing
- unauthorised network access
- data loss
- non-compliance with industry regulations and standards like GDPR and PCI DSS
SDN can be used in conjunction with Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) to create a unified platform for secure access and network control. SASE is a cloud-based framework that combines the capabilities of a traditional secure web gateway, CASB, and SD-WAN. It enables secure access to applications and data for remote users, regardless of device or location. Combining SDN with SASE gives organisations better visibility and control over their network, while also improving security.
“Security-driven networking builds security into the network from the start. By combining solutions like SASE and ZTNA, we protect every edge of the network.”
Pankit Mehta, National Portfolio Manager, NEC Australia