How to adapt to new ways of working and still keep your data safe

By Tim Ryan, Senior Product Manager, Virgin Media Business

“Cyber-criminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace.”

These were the words of INTERPOL’s security general Jürgen Stock in an August report about the rise in cyber-crime since the start of the pandemic.

With recent government announcements suggesting remote work is here to stay for the foreseeable future, is your business ready to cope with these increasing security threats?

Here’s how you can make sure the answer to that question is ‘yes’…

Don’t put your faith in traditional models

Cast your mind back to March 2020.

The call for UK-wide lockdown came almost overnight, and many businesses were found wanting when it came to remote working.

For the first few weeks of lockdown they were quickly procuring new technology in order to meet this new and sudden need. All so their people could simply do their jobs.

Now the landscape looks different again.

Despite the government pulling back on its drive to get people back to the office, some people still need to do that for at least part of the working week.

You’ve got some people working in the office, some people working remotely, and more people connecting to your network using personal devices at home (BYOD).

Such dramatic changes in the way we work demand dramatic changes in cyber-security too.

You need security technology that will optimise your cloud-based tools – Cisco Meraki’s next-gen firewalls being an example of this.

And you need security technology that you can quickly and easily deploy with little-to-no in-house IT expertise.

Without the underlying infrastructure or connectivity to support new cloud-based technologies, however, you’re going to struggle to adapt as quickly or effectively as you need to (as many organisations learned the hard way at the start of lockdown).

But beyond supporting the technology you need, shifting your infrastructure to the cloud has other security benefits.

Flexible, contained, controlled

With a traditional approach to networking, you have to route all your traffic into your network in order to let people access the data and applications they need.

If somebody is working remotely, they have to get inside that network in order to do their job.

With a modern, cloud-based approach, however, there is a greater degree of separation between remote users and your corporate network where you keep all your sensitive data.

That’s because the apps and services people need to access are hosted in the cloud. So if there is a breach it won’t necessarily happen within your network.

In short: the risk is likely to be more contained.

But a modern approach to security isn’t just about technology and infrastructure.

Approaches like ‘zero trust’ and SASE (secure access service edge) are absolutely essential in this hybrid working economy.

The former pretty much does what it says on the tin. In essence: nobody is trusted until your security platform can determine otherwise. It’s a blanket approach, but one that is absolutely necessary given the nature of work today.

Whether someone is logging in from a café, their kitchen or your head office, they’re treated exactly the same way. So your devices, data and apps have the same level of protection wherever they happen to be.

SASE, a term coined by Gartner, works hand in hand with a zero trust approach. It’s a cloud-based security model that essentially allows you to control and configure all your security services from a single software platform.

This kind of approach will be critical in overcome the rise in cyber-crime that INTERPOL and others have predicted.

The only way is forward now

Many of the things I’ve discussed in this article were already happening long before Covid-19.

The need was already there. The pandemic only accelerated the change.

We’re now seeing a huge number of organisations wanting to move their security technology into the cloud. They want to benefit from having a single provider, with the flexibility to ramp things up or down as required – especially important during these unpredictable times.

We’re also seeing a rising demand for faster, more reliable connectivity that can support the kind of tools that businesses need to adapt to new ways of working.

The risk to those that don’t make these changes is clear.

Cyber-crime is on the rise, and home workers are being targeted. Right now, the last thing your business needs is the extra financial or reputational burden a data breach or similar attack would bring.

There are some simple steps you can take to ensure your organisation is protected, many of which I’ve laid out in this article.

But essentially it come down to this:

The way people work has fundamentally changed. So if you haven’t already, you need to fundamentally change the way you approach security too.

Need help protecting your business in the wake of Covid-19? Whether your people are at home or in the office, our experts can recommend a range of technologies that will help you adapt to new ways of working securely, all underpinned by fast, reliable connectivity.