The Security Implications of “Band-Aid” Telework Solutions

The Security Implications of “Band-Aid” Telework Solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation efforts of many organizations. While the trend toward remote work has been growing steadily for years, COVID-19 made it necessary for many organizations to transition from no telework program at all to a mostly or wholly remote workforce in a matter of weeks.

During this transition, providing employees with secure enterprise remote access was a priority. However, the rush to do so meant that many organizations implemented “band-aid” solutions that cannot effectively and securely support a remote workforce for an extended period of time.

The enforced telework of the COVID-19 pandemic provided many organizations and employees with the opportunity to discover the benefits of remote work. As companies plan for extended or permanent telework programs, they need to acknowledge the limitations of their existing remote access solutions and build a secure and sustainable telework infrastructure.

The Limitations of Legacy Remote Access Solutions

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are the most well-known and widely used solution for providing remote workers with secure access to the enterprise network. VPNs work by creating an encrypted tunnel between the remote worker’s computer and a VPN endpoint on the enterprise network. All traffic flowing between these two points is encrypted, protecting it against eavesdroppers and verifying its integrity and authenticity.

The problem with VPNs is that they are designed for a very specific application, and large-scale telework is not it. VPNs have a number of limitations that place the effectiveness and security of an enterprise telework program at risk, including:

VPNs are a “band-aid” solution to the infrastructure and security challenges of supporting a remote workforce. While these legacy solutions may work in the short term, they negatively impact enterprise productivity and increase cybersecurity risk in the long term.

Designing Telework Infrastructure for the Modern Enterprise

The response to the forced telework of COVID-19 varied from some organizations planning to fully return to the office as soon as possible to others selling off office space and embracing remote work. However, many organizations plan to support telework – at least part-time for some of their workforce – for the foreseeable future.

Implementing a sustained telework program means that organizations should invest in the infrastructure required to support and secure it. This includes selecting solutions that eliminate or minimize the challenges and limitations associated with VPN-based remote work.

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a good option for organizations with remote workforces. SASE combines the network optimization capabilities of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) with a full security stack into a single solution that is deployed as a virtualized cloud-based appliance. This provides a number of benefits for remote work, including:

Remote work is not going away anytime soon. Organizations need to invest in the solutions capable of supporting it securely.

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