Businesses are starting to return to normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s business as usual for employers. Employees have tasted the flexibility of working from home, and they aren’t about to completely give up their freedom. More importantly, an Accenture report noted that 63% of high growth organizations have enabled productivity-anywhere workforce models, establishing a link between an environment where employees can be productive from anywhere and bottom-line growth. Forbes examines this connection even further finding that the hybrid model “is now a key productivity strategy for the workplace of the 2020s.”
An effective IT approach to support this new reality of the hybrid workplace is one that provides your employees access to the data and tools they need to be productive while protecting your network and data from unauthorized intrusions. Let’s look at what it takes to create an effective cloud technology stack — one that drives hybrid productivity while protecting the security of your network, your data, and all the connected devices.
Build the Proper Foundations
Cloud solutions offer the perfect building blocks for a hybrid work IT environment. They provide access to resources on an individual and organizational level, which will allow everyone from entry-level employees to C-level executives to be productive from anywhere. The key is to carefully examine your company’s goals and align your cloud solutions with your current needs and future growth plans.
A good place to start is with your infrastructure solutions. Focus on cloud-native technologies and begin to carve workloads away from your technical debt of traditional IaaS, on-prem DaaS and legacy cloud storage. However, in a transitioning your environment, remember to protect your legacy workload assets. With the latest cloud-native IaaS, DaaS, and cloud storage, you can customize your approach with the capacity, flexibility, and agility that supports the constantly evolving needs of a hybrid workforce. This is also a key to maximizing the performance of your cloud-based network solutions, which deliver the connectivity all your web-connected applications, services, data, and devices need to function. Without a fast, secure, and reliable access solution, your employees can become frustrated and productivity will lag. You will also need to build in operations solutions, so you can handle all back-office concerns including SaaS and device management, technical documentation, and migrations.
Provide the Right Tools
Modern cloud-native solutions are built to facilitate communication, track progress, fuel collaboration and productivity, and even build company culture. They are the building blocks of success in a hybrid workplace. With that said, finding the right SaaS solutions can be a bit overwhelming. A google search for “cloud-based project management software” returns a staggering 448,000,000 results. It’s best to find a CSP partner, like Pax8, who has vetted potential vendor solutions and identified the leaders in each category. The right CSP can also help you identify each client’s needs and build a SaaS solution to fit their requirements.
In addition, having Pax8 integrate the right cloud-native email services, business applications, and business intelligence tools into a single cloud interface, allows you to deliver a seamless work experience whether an employee is in the office or working remotely. It’ll also help your clients increase the efficiency for all employees while giving them the freedom to work when and where they choose.
Protect the Hybrid Environment
All aspects of workplace technology have been affected by the newer new normal of the hybrid work model, but none more so than cybersecurity. A less restrictive workplace brings new challenges, which include how to best protect workers, data, and equipment that can be connecting from anywhere, even from unsecured networks.
This has caused a shift away from perimeter and walled-garden approaches to security protection toward an identity-centric approach that focuses on the user first and layers device health and compliance in with security tools and practices. This approach embraces endpoint, email, and end user security as the frontline for remote defense.
The flexibility and adaptability of your hybrid workplace security solution will be the difference in having a hybrid workforce that’s well protected the way that people in the office expect to be. Simply put, a user working in their local coffee shop shouldn’t feel any different than a user sitting in the office.
Best practice is to follow the Center for Internet Safety Critical Security Controls (CIS Controls), which are a prioritized set of safeguards designed to mitigate the most prevalent cyber-attacks against systems and networks. Their most recent versioning supports an enterprise’s security as they move to both fully cloud and hybrid environments.
The remote workplace is a veritable playground for cybercriminals. Each laptop, cellphone, and tablet that connects to a company’s network or database via the internet is a new vulnerability they can leverage to access valuable data. As the volume and sophistication of cyberattacks has grown, so has the need to quickly detect, analyze, block, and contain attacks at their origination points.
Features to look for in an effective endpoint security solution:
– Protects users and business networks from a wide range of threats
– Is an always up-to-date cloud-based service
– Delivers endpoint management anywhere, anytime, online or offline with hierarchical controls and visibility
According to a 2021 Verizon report, nearly a quarter of all malware is delivered via email, while Proofpoint reports that only 64% of organizations conduct either in person or computer-based formal cybersecurity training sessions. These are disturbing trends that are only magnified by remote and hybrid work models. Email is one of the most prominent tools for cybercriminals to exploit, because phishing attacks and business email compromise (BEC) play to the one vulnerability that’s nearly impossible for technology to monitor, especially in a remote working situation — people.
While people may be a weak link, a solid email security protocol can effectively reduce the risks you face from a vector of threats including spam, phishing, emailed malware, and encrypted communications using inbound email security, email encryption, and email archiving. The key is building in protection that limits vulnerability before a threat can get in.
Your email security solution should:
– Deliver good filtering accuracy to protect inboxes against cyber threats and reduce false positives
– Offer robust email archiving for immutable backup
– Use encryption to protect data in transit
– Provide visibility and control over email flows
– Enable enforcement of acceptable usage policies and encryption
– Increase employee productivity, while reducing the risk of security incidents
Our article, Win-Win Email Security for MSPs and SMB Clients, examines how better inbox protection can also increase your revenues.
End User Security
Employees using laptops and mobile devices to access email, use software, and share files are the weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity. However, they can also be a strong first line of defense against cyberattacks when armed with the proper tools and training.
Security training is one of the most effective, but often neglected, tools when it comes to cybersecurity. As reported in our recent Bone-Chilling Cybersecurity Stats blog, 70% of organizations don’t include best practices for remote working in their security awareness training. It’s especially important that employees working in a hybrid environment receive proper initial training and regular refresher courses on how to identify and avoid phishing, BEC, and scam email attempts.
Another highly effective way to deliver powerful end user security protection on the web is through a zero-trust approach. Zero-trust basically assumes anyone and any device that connects to your data is untrustworthy. Because they are verified, employees have access to surf the web safely and productively from desktops and mobile devices without interruption, but in a way that enforces security policies and protects the data endpoints.
For a comprehensive defensible end-user cybersecurity solution, be sure to follow the CIS v8 controls that talk about things such as:
– Web security to protect users against web-based threats and provide an enforcement of acceptable use policies to prevent productivity drains
– Mobile security to protect smartphones, tablets, laptops, portable devices, and the networks they connect to from threats and vulnerabilities associated with remote, wireless computing
– Data protection and encryption to protect sensitive data and information
– Device Compliance to secure company resources and prevent data loss
– Managed security to enable 24×7 security monitoring and incident response for increased protection from today’s advanced cyber threats
– Security training to close the gap on the human factor in threat mitigation and strengthen overall internal security
Leading Hybrid Workplace Solutions Through Pax8
There’s no one-size-fits-all hybrid work model, but the truly effective solutions share a common thread — flexibility. It is our mission to help MSPs build highly effective cloud solutions that embrace the flexibility and effectiveness to meet each client’s hybrid workplace needs while protecting the company’s most valuable asset, its data. We offer a combination of solutions delivered by top cloud vendors, best-in-class cloud-based education to help MSPs effectively grow their cloud business, and an exclusive platform that streamlines the management of their clients’ solutions.
To learn more about all the ways Pax8 remote work solutions can help you empower a productive and secure remote workforce for your clients, talk with a Pax8 Solutions Consultant.