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Why ‘the office’ will soon be a thing of the past

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It’s certainly been a challenging start to the new decade for global business. World health epidemics and major weather events, such as the Australian bushfires and, on a smaller more local scale, Storm Ciara, interspersed with mass strikes and protests, have caused significant disruption to daily life around the world.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to a surge in elected and enforced working from home, as organisations hurry to implement business continuity plans to lessen the economic impact.

A challenging time for business

Enterprise risk models should have allowed businesses to be somewhat prepared for such events, yet unfortunately, the scale and frequency of the events we’ve seen so far in 2020 have significantly challenged these response plans and their underlying technology.

Managing enterprise risks, including those arising from force majeure and more typical ongoing threats – such as those posed by cybercriminals – should be addressed with one simple plan of action.

To understand how to build the most effective plan, we must first look at the fundamentals of the workplace of 2020.

Connecting people to information is critical to most businesses’ operations. During times of crisis, the need to securely and effectively support remote working has become more important than ever.

The rise of remote-friendly tech

Yet while the majority of employees now count the ability to work from home as a standard benefit of the modern workplace, there is still a cultural shift needed in terms of how we think about remote working given that some outdated attitudes still persist.

Technology has enabled us to work from anywhere and on any device, so the fundamentals are there.

Thankfully, we’re seeing a concerted shift toward enabling this model across the board, driven by necessity, but also because organisations are beginning to recognize the many potential benefits, including significant cost savings.

With people and applications now everywhere, businesses must take two key models into account when it comes to maintaining control as the importance of the central office declines: secure access service edge (SASE) and zero trust.

For the past 30 years, networks have been connecting users to applications in the data centre, which was surrounded by a secure perimeter to keep apps and data safe from the outside.

Implementation(s)

Yet with applications moving to the cloud, the internet of things becoming more common, and users connecting from everywhere, network security is no longer able to solve the fundamental challenges of security, and is actually adding complexity and cost.

SASE, a new security model defined by Gartner, specifically addresses the security challenges presented by the new reality organisations are facing, placing the onus on securing the traffic between the user and application. In other words, it’s the journey and not just the destination that is most important.

With the SASE model, digital businesses must provide security at all times, regardless of the location of the user in question.

Zero trust is another best practice model for connecting users to applications and data. What is critical about this model for enterprises to consider in 2020 is the importance of having one single, simple access model for users – regardless of where they are and what they are trying to access.

Enabling the right access

Secondly, this approach enables enterprises to truly isolate and segment who has access to what. This means no more shared spaces, as every access must be validated before it is enabled. This is done by simply bringing the user and the application together only for that particular communication and nothing further.

Organisations that embrace SASE and zero trust will be able to build a single way of working and be better prepared to cope with the ever-increasing set of events that can challenge business operations.

This means having a single process that will allow the organisation to function without needing to shift operating models, therefore keeping the business continuity plan simple to maintain and scale during times of crisis.

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