A 2017 Gallup poll found that 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely. The modern work environment has changed drastically over the past five years and with this in mind we must, as an industry, strive to offer enterprise-grade protection to all of our employees, their devices, and their home networks.
Remote Workers Are Here to Stay – and For Good Reason
Both employees and companies benefit when workers are given the right to work remotely – whether on a regular basis or as-needed. The remote setup benefits everybody involved, despite the famous example of the now-ex-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who made headlines back in 2013 by banning Yahoo employees from working remotely, and more recently, IBM.
For employers, the benefits are clear: you pay much less for office space and employee parking, since your on-site team is smaller and, most importantly – you can employ a much more diverse and varied workforce.
The ability to hire from anywhere in the world means that you can hire people with completely different backgrounds and different realities. That capability translates almost immediately to your customers, who have equally varied realities and cybersecurity challenges. It’s a win-win.
The New York Times ran an interesting article that suggested that the ability to work remotely can also help close the gender gap. That flexibility helps allow women, who traditionally carry a heavier responsibility for caregiving, to bring their talents and genius into the workplace without having to be away from home.
Case in point: Cylance is made up of nearly 50% remote workers, affording us the freedom to work from home offices and coffee shops around the world. This freedom benefits both employees and employer. Remote workers have ample time to do hours more work than many of our colleagues, who must waste hours daily commuting to the office, which can add up to hundreds of hours of lost productivity per year.
Instead, that time is devoted to doing our jobs, and the ability to structure our days around necessities such as childcare or family activities makes for the one thing most employees truly crave: true work-life balance.
So What’s the Problem?
From a security perspective, I think we can all agree that the traditional castle (corporate network) and moat (firewall) model is dead. Cybersecurity must adapt to this modern work environment – instead of protecting a single castle, security and IT teams must now protect the castles each of their employees work from.
It takes just one employee to give up his or her credentials to an attacker via phishing or the accidental download of malware, and then it’s ‘game over’ for their company, when the attacker hops across to the corporate network next time the employee connects to it.
To this end, each employee’s home environment must be protected at the same security level as the corporate office.
While it’s taken the cybersecurity industry too long to get this point, Cylance has taken up the gauntlet and is now offering enterprise-grade tools to protect each of your employees against malicious attackers.
VPNs aren’t enough to protect your organization from the threats remote workers face each and every day. The reality is that employees just want to get their work done and they want to do it as quickly as possible. They’ll use their home Internet connection, or they’ll log on from their favorite coffee shop - maybe they’re on the road constantly and need to get their work done from airport lobbies.
Threat actors know this and can very easily spoof WiFi connections in public venues in order to see whatever your employees are doing – whether they’re logging into their work email or looking at your product roadmaps, you can see the danger this presents.
As an employer, your job is to not only protect your corporate data, but also enable your employees to get their work done in a safe and protected environment. It’s all a balancing act. While you can educate your users on the threats that face them, they’re still focused on doing their work, and may not have the time or the interest to gain as much IT knowledge as your in-house cybersecurity team.
As enterprise-grade security becomes more user-friendly and easier to manage, robust security solutions are now being made available to corporate entities who need to protect their legions of remote workers.
Despite the criticisms offered up by the Marissa Mayers of the world, remote working is not going away, and the benefits of remote workers are well worth the cost of dealing with the necessary added protections they must be provided with.