Some of the COVID-19-related changes to IT environments, such as remote work and cloud usage, are here to stay and will necessitate long-term adaptations to company cybersecurity policies.
The hurried steps many companies took recently, to ensure that remote employees can securely access enterprise data, will need to be replaced or strengthened, according to security experts, with controls that can match the needs of a post-pandemic future. Where data is distributed across on-premises and cloud environments, and users access it from both managed and unmanaged networks and devices, capabilities that enable improved visibility, control, and administration of IT infrastructures will be required.
The pandemic accelerated digitization and a shift to the cloud, which many CISOs were not prepared to handle at such a quick pace. Many organizations have been compelled to seek out short-term solutions that will allow them to continue operating while allowing employees to work remotely.
Here are some of the longer-term adjustments that businesses will undertake or will be required to make in order to secure data security in the post-pandemic era.
Zero-trust access approaches are adopted faster
In the aftermath of the pandemic, the change to a more remote work and business environment will hasten the implementation of zero-trust access models over the next few years. Enterprise data and services are now permanently dispersed across on-premises, hybrid, and public cloud environments, with users accessing it via managed and unmanaged networks and devices. In a post-pandemic anywhere, anytime access world, old paradigms where users accessing company data and services from within the network are implicitly trusted, would simply not function. Organizations will increasingly have to embrace zero-trust models, in which every access request from inside and outside the network is authenticated and vetted, to ensure secure access to company data.
Controls for securing a larger attack surface
The pandemic has radically altered the way businesses operate. Some will run in a wholly remote manner indefinitely, while others will continue to operate in a hybrid form. Organizations will abandon big corporate campuses in favor of regional offices and shared meeting places that are closer to their decentralized staff.
In terms of security, the development will generate a new and much larger attack surface for businesses to protect. Employee access, for example, will need to be secured regardless of where they work. In several industries, like retail, hospitality, and manufacturing, the demand for social distancing and workforce shortages has expedited automation and the usage of AI.
Network visibility and monitoring are improved
Because of the pandemic-led hasty shift to a more distributed and cloud-first work environment, enterprises have lost insight into the devices that connect to their networks and data to varying extents. In many circumstances, companies put security on the back burner in order to maintain business continuity and availability. They used short-term solutions that allowed remote employees to stay productive while the firm continued to run smoothly.
Unfortunately, enterprises adopted these technologies without assessing the risks or providing security to prevent attackers from abusing them. Beginning in early 2020, CISOs needed to assess and handle the additional risks that have been introduced into the environment as a result of rapid cloud adoption and remote work models. In the coming year, CISOs should assess remote access threats and expedite the deployment of new security solutions, such as privileged access security, multi-factor authentication, and single sign-on, to improve remote access security.
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