These are the times of unprecedented shifts— a near-total move to remote working, an overnight pivot to enterprise workflows run out of the office, and huge upsurge in cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities. A future-focused security strategy demands a cloud-powered security with a human-centric approach.
I am in constant touch with CIOs and CISOs of many large organizations and many of them are also our customers. In the past few months, the number one priority for CIOs and CISOs remains supporting business continuity. Keeping the IT everyone needs running and secure has been their primary consideration.
What these discussions also reveal is that the prevailing situation, where millions are working from home, calls for a fundamental change in thinking about cybersecurity. Many of them have had to move data quickly from on-premise to the cloud. They’ve also been concerned with how they can give access to legacy applications in a remote environment that might be untrusted.
The push for rapid expansion of the remote workforce has further accelerated the cloud adoption. Digital transformation, the cloud, and workforce mobility have spread data and users far beyond the perimeter of office networks and data centers. Safeguarding data in this new reality is a fundamentally different task than it used to be. But failing to protect it is just as damaging as it ever was—data breaches can result in costly fines, a reputational hit, and other damaging outcomes.
Increasing visibility and control
Software and applications used to primarily be on a company network or data center, these days applications increasingly reside in the cloud. Also, employees are eager to get access to apps they need to be effective, which sometimes means creating accounts to create free or premium versions of cloud apps.
Beyond software, when it comes to devices, a large number of employees may be sharing devices with other family members or may be connected through insecure Wi-Fi networks, which raises concerns around employee access and oversight.
CISOs should prioritize meaningful visibility and control, keeping a sharp eye on devices and applications that your employees are actually using—and that they’ll continue to use in the weeks and months to come.
Ensuring safe and secure working in the cloud
As more data moves to the cloud, security teams are challenged to protect increasingly complex, distributed hybrid environments. Traditional perimeter-based and network-centric models for delivering security are no longer adequate for the current reality’s demands.
For e.g. employees need to access cloud-based applications no matter where they are—using personal devices, including mobile ones, while traveling or working from home, as well as via in-office hardware. It is essential that security teams have visibility into potentially risky usage of both sanctioned and unsanctioned cloud applications, even when it occurs on unmanaged devices.
Moving forward requires a change in how we deliver network and cloud security as an industry. What we need is cloud-powered converged security that takes a human-centric approach. It is about protecting users and data in a distributed and diverse environment, one that bridges traditional on-premises infrastructures, including the home office, to multi-cloud and multi-SaaS ones.
Gartner’s Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is an architecture that aims to do just that. It’s an approach that promises direct-to-app connectivity and security for cloud-first and hybrid enterprises.
Converged cloud-based security solutions
CISOs therefore should look to have integrated and converged cloud-based security solutions, which should cover the following areas
– Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
– Endpoint protection
– Network security (Firewall as a Service and Secure SD-WAN)
– Cloud security (Cloud Access Security Broker – CASB)
Converged cloud security solutions enable the deployment of consistent policies across all levels and locations of an organization. They simplify security management, provide flow-level visibility across the entire operation (from the endpoint to the network to the cloud) and the ability to deploy real-time updates. In addition, policies can then respond to rapid changes within the enterprise or the legislature. For most CISOs and data protection officers it is a must to prepare for this.
Converged cloud security solutions should be complemented by behavioural analysis: individualized and adaptive policies for various levels of risk, which can be determined upon the basis of behaviour and adjusted in accordance with how users act and interact with data. This can help to better control user access, especially in dynamic and distributed systems.
For this reason, converged services are used in cloud security. They are important to consolidate tools for maximum efficiency and reduce the operational load.
Managing and supporting a fully remote workforce isn’t a one-time problem—it’s the new way of working. Taking a comprehensive approach provides better protection. This enables organisations to free themselves from the limitations of legacy implementations and approaches – to streamline security operations, utilizing a modern service of converged capabilities to help accelerate their journey to the cloud.
Surendra Singh is Senior Director & Country Manager at Forcepoint India