Securing the Future of Work: Converging Networks and Security for Remote Employees

Edwin Lim

By.Edwin Lim, Country Director of Indonesia, Fortinet 

Thanks to the productivity benefits of remote and hybrid working, today’s networks are no longer confined to a single physical location. They are also constantly evolving to support organisations’ digital transformation strategies and goals.

In line with these changes, IT and security teams are hastily integrating new point solutions to account for new or updated threats within the hybrid network. This setup, however, leads to various technical issues, including increased operational complexity, performance delays, and the creation of new vulnerabilities.

To prevent these issues from becoming a detriment to the organisation, security teams need to be able to bring all of their networking and security solutions together to unlock their full potential. Convergence helps in this regard, as it ensures remote employees can continue creating value for the business, without any compromise on security.

The Converged Security Checklist

The work-from-anywhere (WFA) model requires organisations to secure their workloads, regardless of which part of the world their employees are located. Without it, cyberattackers can exploit users’ devices to move in and achieve their objectives.

For organisations that have employees scattered in multiple locales, endpoint protection should be part of their cybersecurity arsenal as it helps close off devices from attacks. This is especially the case for workers who take their devices with them wherever they go and rely on unsecured public networks to access corporate resources. Preferably, it should be equipped with cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) and automated playbooks that allow security teams to implement the best safeguards based on the device’s risk levels.

Equally important are dynamic access controls, which allow users to use certain resources based on various criteria, including user identities, location, device type, and security posture. Zero trust is central to this, as it blocks users’ requests until they can prove that they are who they say they are.

For users working from home, organisations need to extend their enterprise-grade security to their respective networks so that users can enjoy maximum performance and privacy. With home network security and controls, security teams will be able to optimise bandwidth for various tasks while ensuring confidential data remains out of reach of those who share the same home network but do not have authorisation to said data.

As for employees who are constantly on the move, organisations should employ cloud-based security services that are capable of following users. In particular, secure web gateways (SWGs) and cloud-based Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) are designed to safeguard devices against online-based threats, giving users the confidence to surf the net for work purposes safely.

Last but not least, organisations need an operating system that is capable of unifying different security solutions. This way, experts will be able to harness more accurate threat intelligence and coordinate functions to respond to a wide range of threats, both known and unknown.

Why Converged Security Relies on Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

Flexible workspaces have extended organisations’ networks beyond the traditional perimeter and positioned cloud-based applications as central to their business operations. This, in turn, has created a larger attack surface with which organisations need to contend.  With SASE, organisations can deliver enterprise-grade security and a superior user experience that can empower remote workers to do their jobs.

SASE comes with SD-WANs that are designed to scale connections across different network environments. This setup allows users to operate privately hosted applications seamlessly while also combining networking and security solutions for better efficiency. By pairing it with zero-trust network access (ZTNA), experts can control who can use the applications at a granular level. This way, robust security won’t come at the cost of employee productivity.

SASE can also secure Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models through the use of a cloud access security broker (CASB). This feature provides full visibility into what applications each user has and whether they can be onboarded with the organisations’ workloads. It also simplifies the management of shadow IT devices and data exfiltration, enabling users to work effectively with their own tools and resources.

Supporting Your Organisation’s Digital Acceleration Journey

WFA is already a defining feature of the workplace, and organisations need to adapt so they can continue to serve their customers and remain competitive. Because of this, businesses can no longer put off integrating a converged networking and security landscape to safeguard their workers and resources.

It should be noted, however, that no two organisations are on the same digital transformation path. For example, those who want to maximise performance will implement SD-WAN to drive their applications, while those looking to manage user and device access will turn to SASE. This is why organisations need to consider which solutions and capabilities each vendor has and how compatible they are with their business operations.

Ultimately, those that are successful will be able to harness increased security effectiveness, faster performance, and reduced complexity to meet today’s expanding network challenges.