Today the benefits of cloud applications are clear – they deliver organizations the flexibility, efficiency and agility to be both productive and innovative by empowering a work-from-anywhere workforce. Ostensibly there are no longer limits to what enterprises the world over can accomplish simply by ensuring their employees have access to the internet and to strategically implemented cloud applications
Many organizations are now facing a rapidly expanding remote workforce, and this often represents a new way of working. Numerous businesses are seeing their work-from-anywhere employee ratio double or triple seemingly overnight. As your organization scales to support an increasing number of remote workers in the near term, you’ll also need business continuity plans that prepare you to provide longer term operational support. Now is an optimal time to re-evaluate your security strategies and technologies with an emphasis on ensuring they can support security and productivity in equal measure.
Here are four strategies you can activate immediately to put this into practice:
1. Understand which cloud applications your employees rely on.
You can’t optimize what you don’t know about. Visibility into the applications your employees take advantage of on a day-to-day basis provides necessary insight into your employees’ needs and makes clear how they are solving challenges and getting their jobs done. A clear understanding of the cloud applications people use and how they use them enables you to mitigate risks and better protect sensitive data because you know where it is flowing. A cloud access security broker (CASB) lets you see which managed and unsanctioned applications are deployed within your organization and how users are connecting to IT resources.
2. Prioritize user experience and remove friction.
What’s most important to your employees is accessing the applications they need to get their jobs done, regardless of whether this means using interactive communication tools like Slack or Zoom, or public code repositories like GitHub. Shadow IT will naturally proliferate in any organization that doesn’t provide sanctioned and well-supported tools to enable workforce productivity.
Employees will embrace unsanctioned applications if they need them to get their jobs done. As your workforce rapidly moves to a remote model, focus on giving remote workers safe ways to use the software they prefer—even if this means homegrown or customized applications that IT has visibility into—and you’ll remove their incentive to take unnecessary risks.
Think about enabling employees. What other collaboration capabilities can you bring to larger groups of remote workers who are logging in? Video conferencing solutions like Zoom and collaboration apps such as Slack or Microsoft Teams are examples of applications teams can use to stay connected and productive.
3. Make high availability and performance a top priority.
It’s obvious that downtime has a negative impact on employee productivity. Beyond this, however, it’s also the case that many legacy security products inadvertently degrade application performance by backhauling traffic to the datacenter for packet inspection.
If systems or applications are slow and unreliable, employees often look for workarounds to keep projects moving forward. And in many of those cases, this may mean bypassing security measures you have in place. One way to prevent this: migrate more network security into the cloud so that remote workers can more efficiently and securely go directly to cloud apps, and the web, through cloud security services - such as web security and CASB.
4. Standardize security platforms and policies across the whole of your environment.
Looking to reign in a diverse assortment of managed and unmanaged devices? You’ll need to enforce policies and exercise account protections in a uniform, consistent fashion.
This is further complicated by a lack of consistency across software-as-a-service (SaaS) application portfolios. A comprehensive platform that enables you to enforce access control policies consistently across the whole of your cloud-based environment and distributed, mobile workforce is essential for securing remote employees without setting up roadblocks.
CASB technology helps here as well. Implementing it effectively provides a single point of visibility and control over users accessing multi-cloud environments on any device, whether managed or unmanaged. And as more remote workers embrace bring your own device (BYOD) policies, visibility into unmanaged devices accessing the network becomes critical to shoring up security defenses.
The global trend in which growing numbers of organizations embrace cloud services, mobile device use, and workplace flexibility will continue to proliferate. Here at Forcepoint, our mission is to safeguard human potential and to support you with the tools you need to enable your workforce to work without friction from anywhere, anytime safely.
Scale your security strategy to protect people and data wherever work happens—learn more here.