Securing the Future of Work

Securing the Future of Work

Changing engines, mid-flight- this is how the sudden and radical shift to remote working last year is being described in security circles. How safe or how dangerous is it? What’s at risk? And what can be done about it?

According to the 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) from Verizon, the cost of data breaches soared manifold during the pandemic- from as little as USD 800 to a massive USD 650,000, averaging at USD 21,659. Security teams had made whatever preparations to keep remote working safe were not as successful as expected.

Things are finally easing up after almost one month of economic pressure due to the lockdown of nearly all major economies and industries. But the threats are far from over. A recent report, presented by Citrix in partnership with Sapio research, points to the extent of damage. It talks of the scramble to patch vulnerabilities and risks and how IT security decision-makers are not having the best time of their career. Perhaps this situation will not be repeated in their lifetime, but just one pandemic has taken its actual toll on everyone and everything.

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Surveying 1250 security decision-makers across organizations in the US, the UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, The State of Security in a Hybrid World report brings hard facts and the need for more complex decisions and more innovative strategies. It talks about the decisions that had to be taken in a hurry, the impact, and the path forward where nothing is the same. It points out the imperative of managing the bets security protocol in a permanently hybrid working environment and what needs to be done to make it the new normal.

Of those surveyed, almost three-quarters of the best IT security minds have bowed to the new challenges and nearly the same number are struggling to meet the challenges successfully. As the attack surfaces increase with remotely connected devices, all the vulnerabilities connected with the cloud access to corporate data come to the fore. But workers have tasted freedom and seen no drop in efficiency, so of the 3600 plus knowledge workers surveyed, two-thirds feel it’s imperative to be able to work from anywhere. Companies who want to retain these skills have to accept this attitude a swell, and priorities are rapidly changing- in favor of a hybrid work model. From the survey, 86% of the workers demand a seamless, hassle-free work experience, and ninety percent measure the impact of security apps on their ease of work delivery.

“IT organizations realize that as they embrace hybrid work, their security posture needs to evolve,” said Kurt Roemer, Chief Security Strategist, Citrix. “Rather than traditional command and control-style strategies, they need to take a more intelligent, people-focused approach to security that protects employees without negatively affecting their experience.”

Clearly, leadership will need to have a long hard look at corporate security planning since hybrid working policies are nowhere to stay. Long-term ITSec strategies need a complete makeover for this new paradigm.

However, the report also recognized some significant challenges to the efficacy of the hybrid model of work- the top among them being the issue of ubiquitous connectivity. Forty-three percent of respondents put it as a top challenge. Working from home also poses a significant challenge of lack of IT knowledge. A third of them face this situation – Navigating technical problems virtually (34 percent) and facing the inability to get IT to support quickly/easily (32 percent).

The future is not all dark.

There is still hope. Even though almost half of all decision-makers surveyed felt they were in control when the pandemic started and started faltering in the ensuing months, nearly 86% now think they are more comfortable in the new situation. They feel more in control and more confident about meeting the recent cultural shift. However, this comfort has come at a cost to the enterprise globally; more than half the security leaders surveyed spoke of a 40% increase in security budgets over the last twelve months to meet the challenge of staying afloat with remote teams. This investment has not been in vain, and 71% feel their IT security environment is now much more robust. This was a critical stage to achieve since almost half of all security leaders now believe that hybrid working models are nowhere to stay.

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“Hybrid work is the future of work, and IT will play a critical role in delivering it,” Roemer said. “With the right technology, they can provide consistent, secure and reliable access to the resources employees need to get work done, wherever it needs to get done and empower them to be and do their best.”

As the world sees the new normal, there is a dire need to normalize new working styles and make better use of collaborative technologies to ensure the hybrid functional teams get maximum IT security support.

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