The way organisations do business is evolving with hybrid working patterns here to stay and the increasing transition to cloud-based infrastructure, but the connections that bring it all together are expanding the attack surface for security.
These connections must be securely managed if businesses are to thrive in this new landscape, without incurring potentially catastrophic operational, reputational, and financial damage.
There are a range of potential connectivity vulnerabilities for cyber criminals to try and exploit.
Remote work means wherever an employee works, whether that be home, local café, car or hotel room, now functions like a branch of the company itself. But often staff will be using consumer grade technology (and security) and accessing public Wi-Fi networks. If they are at home, they may also be using their own routers, which may not have the latest security software installed.
Meanwhile, more data is secured in the cloud and across multi-cloud networks and not in a secured room in a physical building. While this is operationally more effective, it makes vital company data far more accessible and vulnerable.
At any point in these virtual networks a cybercriminal could conduct man in the middle attacks, where they can steal information or access the network, leading to theft or the upload of a virus which could do even further damage down the line. They could impersonate staff and conduct targeted spear phishing or whaling attacks, or even bring down entire company networks with ransomware. On an unsecured virtual network, these attacks could come from anywhere – at any time.
There are several measures which can be taken to establish more secure connectivity. These include:
- Zero trust network access – putting in place policies to determine who can access the system remotely and authenticating devices and users before granting access to them.
- Network monitoring – ensuring security teams can identify where connections originate from, so anything suspicious can be shut down instantly and investigated.
- Virtualized secure networks – securing services that connect enterprise networks.
- Cloud-native security functions – using secure web gateways, cloud access security brokers and firewalls.
- VPN connectivity – enabling encrypted connections to networks for secure and authenticated access from anywhere.
Bringing all of these measures together under one umbrella is where SASE comes in.
What is SASE?
Secure access service edge (SASE) is a an integrated cloud-based network architecture which combines VPN and SD-WAN capabilities with cloud-native security.
The model enables IT security teams to identify devices, end users, IoT/OT systems, and edge computing locations and provide direct and secure access to applications hosted anywhere. As well as control access they can also then initiate security measures when needed. SASE reduces the complexity and cost of having siloed solutions, providing greater oversight of who and what is trying to access your system – and from where – so security measures can be enacted if needed.
Securing the future of work
Company systems are no longer behind secure physical walls and under lock and key. They span an invisible, virtual web and every part is a potentially catastrophic vulnerability. Only through securing its connections can a business embrace the new way of working without jeopardizing revenue, reputation and future success.
For more information on how Cisco can help your business combine network and security functionality in the cloud click here.