Top challenges for hybrid workforces

Aug 04, 2021
5 minutes

It goes without saying that the resiliency and ingenuity of the human spirit is truly remarkable. When faced with extreme situations, time after time we have seen humanity rise to the challenge and find innovative ways to adjust to and overcome adversity. And this past year was no exception.

2020 changed how and where we work for good. In response to a global pandemic, organizations of all shapes and sizes underwent massive transformations to shift their employees from primarily working in offices to working from home. The response was swift and effective - nearly overnight businesses around the world were able to enable the majority of their workforces to be remote while maintaining or in some cases increasing productivity.

2020 also accelerated the move to digital transformation, enabling IT teams to ensure that infrastructure and resources essential for work scaled and remained available everywhere employees were now located. Trends that were already in motion, such as cloud adoption and network modernization, became accelerated and compressed. In a short period of time, most companies had dramatically increased network capacity and availability to accommodate throngs of new remote workers.

While employers and employees adapted to and embraced their new situation, they also viewed their new model of work as not just a point in time, but something more permanent. As businesses prepare for a post-pandemic world, it’s clear the workforce is eager to maintain the flexibility and productivity gains of a work-from-anywhere, or hybrid work environment. As a result, businesses are now forced to also retool their security infrastructures to not only securely enable corporate resources 24/7 but also deliver a seamless in-office user experience everywhere their hybrid workforces connect.

While the rapid transition to remote work went reasonably well for employees, aligning security tools and techniques to this new model of work was too often not a top priority. This has exposed some rather significant gaps in legacy infrastructure and policies primarily focused on securing workers within a well defined network “perimeter.” As a result, businesses not only have to deal with the increased onslaught of attacks brought about by the pandemic, but also the arduous task of modernizing their infrastructures to accommodate their new hybrid workforces. Some of the challenges associated with modernization include:

  • Traffic patterns and mixes: The global distribution of applications and services that organizations rely upon requires fast, reliable, and secure access for their users. While many applications have moved to web-based architectures using software as a service (SaaS) or public cloud, 53% of all remote workforce threats seen on the Palo Alto Networks Prisma Access platform are for non-web apps. Current web security and proxy-based solutions only look at web-based applications and protocols, providing limited coverage and leaving organizations vulnerable to security threats.
  • Increased complexity: The typical business approach of bolting-on a plethora of point-products to address changing market, customer and employee needs is not optimal. Disparate, piecemeal solutions provide incomplete and inconsistent security between onsite, branch and hybrid employees, which results in multiple profiles and policies and subsequently a dramatic increase in network and security complexity.
  • Inconsistent and suboptimal experiences: Users accessing resources from remote locations are often granted different access to protected data compared to corporate offices. This results in security gaps that attackers can leverage to compromise data security. At the same time, legacy methods of backhauling traffic to corporate data centers for policy and security enforcement are costly and inefficient, introduce latency, and result in poor user experiences.
  • Security efficacy: Traditional standalone virtual private networks (VPNs) as well as many of the emerging cloud-based solutions do have strong cybersecurity pedigrees. As a result, these solutions do not provide advanced threat or vulnerability detection, leaving privileged resources vulnerable to user account compromise.

The notion of a network perimeter is no longer resource or location restricted; it has transformed into a global service edge. Legacy approaches to networking and security struggle to take advantage of these advancements as they are expensive to scale out, are composed of multiple disparate products, and force traffic backhauling for access to corporate services, straining budgets and drastically hampering performance. Since privileged resources like applications and data centers are now spread across many different providers and locations, organizations have been relying on a host of additional products to secure each resource.

Organizations are looking for solutions that converge networking and security capabilities into a single service to simplify their management and operations. They’re also looking for cloud delivery of this service to provide consistent and scalable secure access to applications and data for their remote workforce. To counter increasingly sophisticated threats, and to consolidate existing security products, organizations need a solution that provides advanced threat protection that includes machine learning-powered security, behavior based intrusion detection, as well as data-loss prevention without increasing complexity or impacting user experiences. A Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) can solve the challenges for this new hybrid workforce.

Palo Alto Networks offers organizations the industry’s most comprehensive SASE solution. As organizations transition to a cloud-delivered network security model, our natively-integrated Prisma Access and Prisma SD-WAN solutions provide both the security and uninterrupted connectivity needed to support a hybrid workforce. Prisma Access solves the limitations of alternative approaches and offers customers the industry’s most complete cloud-delivered security platform. Try our test drive today and see for yourself how Prisma Access can help leading businesses modernize their security infrastructure, mitigate risks and ensure exceptional user experiences for their hybrid workforces.

Subscribe to Sase Blogs!

Sign up to receive must-read articles, Playbooks of the Week, new feature announcements, and more.