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Securing remote workplaces a priority now for business owners

Securing remote workplaces a priority now for business owners

Majority of firms plan significant investments to secure telework in the next two years

Securing remote workplaces has emerged as an investment priority for businesses in the aftermath of Covid-19.

According to the 2020 Remote Workforce Cybersecurity report by Fortinet, most organisations expect to invest more to secure telework long-term, with nearly 60 per cent of enterprises spending more than $250,000 in secure telework investments in the next 24 months.

“During these times of rapid change, deploying fully-integrated security protections is a top priority for businesses,” says Alain Penel, regional vice president, Middle East at Fortinet.

“With a hybrid work environment establishing itself as the new normal, businesses are working to put together the right combination of solutions to ensure their remote worker strategy can be managed efficiently, securely, and cost-effectively,” he adds.

The report reveals the key areas in which enterprises are prioritising investments. The survey revealed that 65 per cent of organisations had VPN solutions in place pre-pandemic, but only 37 per cent of organisations had multi-factor authentication (MFA). While VPNs play an important role in ensuring secure connectivity, they are simply one part of securing access.

Therefore, if not already in place, it is recommended that organisations consider integrating MFA into their remote security plans, says Penel.

The report showed that 76 per cent and 72 per cent of organisations plan to either upgrade or adopt Network Access Control (NAC) or endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions respectively. As employees work remotely, organisations face challenges to control the influx of non-trusted devices on their networks to enable remote work, creating new security challenges overnight.

“By adopting NAC solutions, IT teams get increased visibility and control over the users and devices on their network. EDR solutions deliver advanced, real-time threat protection for endpoints both pre and post-infection,” Penel explains.

The study says 64 per cent of organisations plan to either upgrade or adopt SD-WAN, but specifically for the home office.

“The critical advantage of extending secure SD-WAN functionality to individual teleworkers, especially super users, is that they can enjoy on-demand remote access as well as dynamically scalable performance regardless of their local network availability,” Penel says.

According to the survey, 17 per cent of organisations made investments in Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) before the pandemic, and 16 per cent invested in SASE as a result of the pandemic. Still, 58 per cent plan to invest in SASE to some degree going forward.

“Although SASE is an emerging enterprise strategy, it is increasingly seen as an opportunity to combine network and security functions with WAN capabilities to support the dynamic, secure access needs of today’s organisations,” Penel says.

TRAINING AND AWARENESS
Humans remain the weakest link in the security chain. Therefore, cybersecurity user awareness training is crucial. Each individual should be able to understand the role they play in protecting the network – something that only comes with training.

“It is crucial that CISOs protect their organisations by including employee education and awareness in their cybersecurity strategy. By embracing this technique, leaders can ensure the workforce is prepared to face the various threats,” Penel explains.

At the start of the pandemic, only 55 per cent of organisations had enough skilled IT workers in place to support the shift to remote work. And while 73 per cent of organisations stated their intention to invest further in skilled IT workers in the next 24 months, the historical lack of skilled IT security professionals could present a challenge.

As a result of the transition to remote work, Fortinet made its online training courses free to help protect businesses against threats that exploit the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Programmes like the Fortinet NSE Training Institute’s certification programme help teach new skills to upskill, or reskill security professionals to reduce the skills shortage,” says Penel.

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