The mass shift to remote work in 2020 turned out to be a positive for most workers, which means the hybrid workforce – a combination of remote and in-office employees – is here to stay. 56% of employees said they wanted to stay at least partially remote even after restrictions lifted – and with most of the nation now re-opened, employers must adjust to this new reality.
This shift also forced some companies to speed up their digital transformation. This is both a positive and a negative. As organizations have shifted their IT infrastructures or adopted new ones, new security risks have arisen. Bad actors, jumping on this trend, have ramped up their ransomware and cyber-attacks.
Rather than trying to force business to go back to “usual,” digital transformation must continue as it accommodates the desires of the workforce and the resulting cybersecurity needs. Organizations can address potential cybersecurity risks with an approach integrating networking and security, as well as tools designed to manage a more complex threat landscape and cybersecurity training for users.
It’s time to automate, automate, automate, and keep your skilled talent focused on the most meaningful tasks.
Data Point No. 1: The hybrid workforce requires a new approach to security
A hybrid workforce needs to access work-based programs and applications from both within and without the company’s traditional network perimeter. But multi-cloud adoption has expanded our notions of an enterprise perimeter. Some companies are finding that a cloud-based architecture, particularly a hybrid cloud approach, requires a new strategy.
As businesses try to create a secure and stable hybrid work model, properly tackling security issues in a cloud environment is paramount. In the cloud, the traditional hub and spoke model in which all traffic goes through a central data center no longer reigns supreme.
Data Point No. 2: Bad actors are moving faster than ever before
One of the key difficulties associated with keeping the workforce safe today is the speed at which attacks now occur. This situation is made worse by security tools that are unable to react in time to prevent serious cyber incidents.
Previously, cyberattacks moved at human speed, with manual execution required for each step of an attack. These manual processes once provided a viable chance of catching an exploit before it caused major damage. That time in now past.
Data Point No. 3: Bad actors are using AI and automation
Now, though, malicious actors are capitalizing on digital innovation by automating and applying artificial intelligence (AI) to many of their tactics. This has empowered them to quickly create more sophisticated, multi-vector attacks that be executed at machine speeds.
For example, cybercriminals are now using AI and automation to locate and exploit multiple vulnerabilities simultaneously while evading detection. Automation enables these to be far more prolific and cause even more damage.
Data Point No. 4: Companies must use AI and automation, too
Organizations must make automation part of their security strategy because humans alone can’t keep up. CISOs and their teams – and the legacy security solutions they have in place – can be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of incidents and alerts that require correlation and investigation.
It is impossible to defend against enhanced, automated attacks with isolated security devices, the hand correlation of data between siloed solutions, and manual responses.
Data Point No. 5: AI increases visibility
AI solutions provide the needed visibility and automation to help tackle the issue of not having enough people. By using AI-based tools, like AI-assisted network access control, cybersecurity teams can gain visibility into every device accessing a network at any time.
AI and automated tools simplify network management across these environments and alert security teams to imminent threats and process an automatic threat response. AI, especially, can continuously sift through mounds of data collected from devices across the network to identify threats – much faster and more efficiently than an already-strapped security team can.
Last year saw multiple rapid changes to the business environment. That included attackers’ pivot to targeting employees’ home networks and increased ransomware and phishing activity. There is no new normal – only a constant adaptation to the next change. For businesses, cybersecurity is a crucial adaptation that requires AI and automation to combat those same technologies that cybercriminals use.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Renee Tarun is the deputy CISO of Fortinet