Cisco: For a secure hybrid workforce, adopt SASE

Cisco: For a secure hybrid workforce, adopt SASE: Source – Shutterstock

For a secure hybrid workforce, adopt SASE

  • Given how a hybrid workforce is the new normal, Cisco believes SASE is the best approach to help secure access wherever users and applications reside.
  • SASE architectures can equip organizations to more quickly adapt to new and sometimes unexpected scenarios.
  • Organizations need to work more on the security approach as cyberattacks are getting more sophisticated.

As lockdown restrictions gradually ease across the globe, organizations are adopting different approaches to hybrid working – whether through a formal company policy, or a ‘choose how you work’ model. No matter the approach, one thing remains clear – flexibility is here to stay. However, not all companies are prepared for it, and a recent study by Cisco in fact shows that globally, only 23.4% of organizations surveyed are “very prepared” for a hybrid workforce.

The numbers are not necessarily shocking because while the benefits of a more hybrid model of working is clear and resound, it also brings with it a fresh and unique set of challenges –   especially from a security perspective. One of the most important factors determining a safe hybrid working model is cybersecurity measures.

Cisco’s Global Hybrid Work Study 2022 indicated that connectivity in the past two years has been a significant issue ever since people started working out of office. In fact, six out of 10 employees (61.6%) say suffering connectivity issues on a regular basis is career limiting for remote workers.

For context, the report highlights the findings of a double-blind survey involving 28,025 full time employees undertaken between January and March 2022. Respondents were drawn from 27 markets touching every continent, other than Antarctica. That said, out of all, only 67.9% respondents say their company currently has the right networking infrastructure now.

What is also worrying is that only 61.9% think that all employees across their company understand the cyber risks involved with hybrid work, and only 67.5% think business leaders are familiar with the risks. “For organizations to operate and grow a hybrid workforce with success, it is important that investment in the right technologies and tools goes hand-in-hand with the right culture, employee engagement approach, and people processes,” Cisco highlighted in the report.

A new approach for a hybrid workforce is needed

Cisco Asean Cybersecurity Director Juan Huat Koo, during the launch of the report highlighted that as technology is a key enabler of growth in the hybrid workplace, it needs to be underpinned by end-to-end integrated security.

“Organizations should prioritize a robust security posture that underpins every digitization effort and ensure that cybersecurity is at the core of their technology architecture. Amid the expanded attack surface area today as more users and devices connect to corporate applications, organizations will need to bolster security and build greater vigilance, through enabling secure access and protecting users and endpoints in the network and the cloud,” he added.

That said, among the issues being faced by organizations that are adopting a hybrid workforce model includes connecting users anywhere to applications everywhere, protecting against evolving threat vectors and delivering high quality and consistent user experience. To put it simply, traditional network security falls short for a hybrid workforce.

An emerging model for security in the hybrid work world is a concept known as the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), Juan said, since it goes beyond just bringing security tools together. “It provides a convergence of both security and networking capabilities to enable people to work from anywhere with the performance that they need and the security that the modern threat landscape demands,” he said.

In short, a SASE approach can include SD-WAN for networking connectivity, cloud-based security tools, “zero trust” access control technology and even VPN capabilities where needed. Yet, according to Cisco, transitioning an existing network into a SASE architecture is a journey, where organizations must take into consideration overall business goals, architecture prerequisites, and licensing requirements.

“At Cisco we have taken an integrated approach, the three C’s, to help organizations navigate their SASE journey. First, the requirement for connectivity, linking users to the applications and data they need to access. Second, control is required for protecting employees from threats wherever they are and ensuring the right access to applications and data. Finally, providing the ability to converge networking and security together for secure connectivity, as a service, in an integrated manner,” commented Koo.