The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the benefits of remote work, and, for many organizations, telework is here to stay. As organizations deploy permanent infrastructure for telework, they need to carefully consider the impact of their decisions, such as the choice of SDP vs VPN for secure remote access.
The Benefits of a Remote Workforce
The COVID-19 pandemic forced many organizations to adopt a mostly or wholly remote workforce in order to continue operations. However, post-pandemic many organizations plan to continue supporting remote work.
The reason for this is that, with a remote workforce, many common fears about telework – such as employees not working without managers looking over their shoulders – failed to materialize, while organizations recognized the significant benefits that come from supporting remote work, such as.
- Lower Overhead: With a remote workforce, an organization needs to maintain less office space and other on-site resources, reducing expenditures.
- Diverse Hiring Pool: Not all potential candidates want to move to near one of an organization’s physical sites. With a remote workforce, a company has access to a global candidate pool.
- Increased Employee Satisfaction: Many employees like the flexibility and time savings that remote work provides, meaning that offering remote work as an option may be vital to employee retention in the future.
- Improved Productivity: For tasks that require deep concentration, the greater solitude available with remote work enables employees to better focus and be more productive than is possible in many office environments.
All of these factors contributed to the decision to support telework for the long term post-COVID. However, this means that organizations also need to invest in the infrastructure needed to sustainably support a remote workforce.
Addressing The Security Challenges of Remote Work
One of the biggest security challenges associated with remote work is ensuring that remote workers are secure against cyber threats. Remote workers have all of the same security risks as on-site employees but also introduce new and unique security challenges.
The scramble to support remote work during COVID-19 meant that many organizations sacrificed security for productivity. However, as remote work becomes “business as usual” organizations are running the numbers to determine the cost of continued insecure remote work.
As a result, support for telework for the long term comes with the need to invest in telework security.
Aligning Telework Investments with Corporate Security Goals
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations tried to adapt and scale up existing solutions and technologies to support a remote workforce. A classic example of this is the surge in virtual private network (VPN) usage during the COVID-19 pandemic.
VPNs are a secure remote access solution, and secure remote access is one of the primary needs of a remote worker. However, while VPNs may seem to meet the security needs of the remote enterprise, this is true only on the surface.
VPNs have a number of shortcomings that make them incompatible with an organization’s other business needs and security priorities, such as.
- Scalability Limitations: VPN solutions scale poorly, as demonstrated by the challenges faced by many organizations early in the COVID-19 pandemic. This inspires the use of workarounds – like split-tunnel VPNs – that impair network visibility and security.
- Lack of Access Controls: VPNs provide authenticated users with full access to the enterprise network. This creates significant security risks due to the potential of insider threats or compromised accounts.
- Geographic Footprint: VPNs only provide secure connectivity to locations hosting a VPN endpoint. With the adoption of cloud computing, organizations must choose between traffic security and infrastructure complexity.
At the same time that they are adapting to support a permanent remote workforce, many organizations are also actively pursuing security objectives like implementing zero trust security.
The truth of the matter is that legacy solutions like VPNs are simply incapable of meeting these other security goals. As a result, organizations will have to choose between their existing security investments and their new security goals.
SDP is the Right Choice for a Remote Workforce
VPNs were a workable solution when most of an organization’s IT infrastructure was located on-prem and security was not a major concern. In the modern business world, enterprises need a modern secure remote access solution.
SDP – also known as zero trust network access (ZTNA) – is a solution for companies that want both secure remote access and zero trust security.
Instead of providing users with full access to the enterprise network (a no-no under zero trust models), SDP/ZTNA provides access to corporate resources on a case-by-case basis. These access decisions are driven by security policies and access controls built using zero trust principles.
Remote work and zero trust security are both great ideas for the modern business, and organizations don’t need to choose between them. SDP/ZTNA enables a company to have its remote workforce and to achieve its zero trust security goals.