Over a year ago, many organizations were debating whether their business was going to be efficient with all workers moving to a home office. The scale of remote work since the pandemic broke has highlighted the need for security outside the company’s physical perimeter, and we are witnessing a paradigm shift where hybrid work is the norm. Given this change in the workforce, secure access from anywhere is one of the main priorities for all security leaders. Many have shown the resilience needed to support employees working in a new remote environment while also maintaining business operations.
Today, people have realized that, in fact, they can work from anywhere and be as productive as always. Unfortunately, malicious actors have also done their homework and found ways to target the remote worker at their most vulnerable endpoints. In fact, last year 28% of data breaches involved small businesses. With the astronomical number of threats and scams leveraging moments in time and important topics (such as election time, holidays and COVID-19 vaccine stories), it’s imperative that SMBs protect themselves and their employees.
One of the biggest challenges in security today continues to be user behaviors – whether working remotely or not. Take password management as an example. Seven in 10 Americans feel like they have too many different passwords to remember and as a result, use the same password for an average of six different accounts, spanning both work and personal. Add to that the challenges that a dispersed workforce brings to device and network security, and it’s clear that SMBs have a monumental task at hand.
Aside from these security challenges, this first year also helped to open new possibilities for SMBs. New technologies, new processes and new policies are changing what the future of the workforce looks like – and how SMBs will secure it.
So, what have SMBs accomplished from this first year of remote work when it comes to security? Here are a few examples.
- Accelerating digital transformation. In early 2020, the first step many organizations took when moving their entire workforce to their homes was moving to their systems to the cloud. Many organizations accelerated their digital transformation roadmap, prioritizing productivity and connectivity from anywhere, jumping into cloud and SaaS services to maintain operations. This has ensured employees have access to the tools they need to get their work done.
- Keeping the workforce connected. Collaboration tools took on a whole new meaning and prominence in the workday. Choosing video conferencing and communications products that would make it easy to connect no matter where employees were based was paramount; however, the security of these tools was also a priority. Selecting tools that provide industry-standard algorithms and protocols for encryption and authentication is critical.
- Selecting new technology for an anywhere work strategy. In the interest of immediate business continuity, many organizations chose and implemented technology on-the-go, often without a strategy behind the decision. They were thinking of short-term solutions that would help their workforce get up and running remotely in no time. Securing new applications, the network and ultimately the user was a much-needed step.
- Implementing a Zero Trust model. The rapid shift to remote work showcased the need for a zero-trust security model that could adapt to the complexity of the modern environment – embracing the hybrid workforce by protecting devices, apps, and data wherever they’re located. Authentication technologies became an essential part of improving security both for the organization and its users. This helped IT verify that the user logging in is legitimate, which is particularly important when every employee logging in is outside of the traditional corporate perimeter.
A new workforce and a new work environment
SMBs have faced shifting priorities and accomplished a lot during the pandemic. From digital transformation to remote collaboration to implementing a zero-trust security model, SMBs have undoubtedly become more resilient.
As we look ahead to a permanent shift to remote work, return to the office or new hybrid work models, it is an important time for SMBs to establish the correct processes and technology that will help provide their workforce the flexibility they are looking for, maintain their productivity standards and have peace of mind that all their information is secured.
Dan DeMichele, VP Product Management, LastPass at LogMeIn
Dan DeMichele is the vice president of product management for the market-leading password manager, LastPass at LogMeIn. Dan has more than 20 years of experience leading both development and product management software teams for small startups and large corporations, bringing disruptive technologies to market and achieving commercial success. Prior to joining LogMeIn, Dan led product management at IBM, building out all consumable data and analytics services for Watson Cloud. He also held previous product leadership roles at Cloudant, IBM (Coremetrics), Unica, BEA, and Plumtree Software.