The importance
of secure digital
workplace solutions

Author: Heidi Vella

It's undeniable that the COVID-19 crisis has transformed work, and as an IT, security or business leader, you must make sure your organization is updating its cyber security policies and protection with it to ensure a secure digital workplace or risk falling victim to potential attacks.

A secure digital workplace is especially important if your firm only adopted the virtual office concept as an urgent response to the pandemic. Securing the remote working network is now a top priority. You must consider which digital workplace solutions to adopt, but you'll first need to understand the core components of a secure virtual network.

The elements of a secure digital network

The digital workplace has seen employees' homes become the new extension to a company's IT system, meaning perimeter-based security will no longer suffice. Recent research from Verizon found that cyber attacks rose significantly in 2020 over the previous year, with a notable increase in social engineering, phishing and ransomware attacks. The data—from Verizon's 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report—suggest that criminals sought to exploit the vulnerabilities of businesses' weak digital security as they adapted to the pandemic.

Now that the attack surface has extended to the home, how can you ensure a more secure digital workplace?

Controlling access and authentication

You should carefully control who can access your network and the digital assets it holds. You must make sure your company has robust policies in place around access and authentication and that only permitted users can get into the company's network, apps and file systems. You can do this in several ways, including requiring two-factor authentication for login, enforcing formats for passwords, strategically segmenting the network, and evaluating and implementing zero trust solutions. 

Enabling employee awareness

The old adage of cyber security is that employees are often the weakest link in data protection. The pandemic has seen cyber criminals take advantage of people's emotional, distracted state  during the pandemic, increasing the number of phishing and ransomware attempts. Homeworkers are particularly vulnerable as their home Wi-Fi may not be as secure as company networks, and they may be tempted to download unauthorized apps and use personal devices to access company information, known as shadow IT. Therefore, a clear IT security policy and employee training are paramount for secure digital workplace solutions. Staff should be able to properly identify, avoid and protect themselves from cyber threats and be equipped with the right tools so they don't require shadow IT.

Implementing robust analytics and threat detection

You must understand the threat landscape. A comprehensive analytics package can help you do this by analyzing your company's network, identifying weak spots and delivering feedback to the IT manager about potentially problematic network traffic. This will contribute to a flexible, proactive security system that can adapt and change as new threat trends are identified. It can also identify noncompliant apps and remove them.

Picking the right partner

As the IT attack surface increases with remote working, you may find it beneficial to work with a managed service provider who can oversee the security of the entire IT management network. A service provider brings specialist expertise and reduces the burden on in-house IT teams. But most importantly, they can help you to keep systems, applications and devices updated so your company has the best protection possible. They're also well positioned to keep up with emerging threats and trends.

The right partner will also be able to help provide rapid response if something does go wrong. When choosing the right partner, consider the following: Do they have the right expertise for your organization's special requirements? Are they established enough to manage the size and scale of your firm? And do they have a proven track record?

Digital workplace solutions: Some things have to change

It's critical to understand that digital workplace solutions are different from in-office ones and require a different approach to protection. For example, IT leaders may want to consider a cloud-based distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) that can protect a company's IP address regardless of how many internet service providers or carriers they use. Essentially, by maintaining routing control and activating routing for any part of the digital infrastructure, IT leaders can protect every network for the organization. The solution can cover the entire enterprise environment, continuously scanning IP network traffic for irregular patterns. DDoS should be considered part of a wider security strategy to give your company the confidence you need to help protect the remote workforce against unsuspecting cyber attacks.

The importance of secure digital workplace solutions

It's important to be cognizant that leaders and IT administrators won't have full control over the remote working network. Employees working from home will share working environments with others outside the organization; they may even work from coffee shops and other places or misplace or inadvertently misuse technology or network access in a way that brings risk. This is why putting in place secure digital workplace solutions are paramount, not just for mitigation but for when or if a cyber attack occurs from a remote location. With the right technology partner and digital workplace solutions, it's possible to create a digital work environment that leaders and employees alike can have confidence in.

Discover how to create an effective work-from-home security policy.