In March 2020, the sudden shift to a remote workforce had IT teams scrambling to be sure their company’s employees had access to the resources they needed to do their jobs. Now, as businesses increasingly choose some type of hybrid work environment or allow remote options as a permanent solution, it’s time to consider both accessibility and security for remote employees.
The priority for many teams supporting a remote workforce is the way employees are scoring their quality of experience (QoE), which measures aspects like the ability to easily and quickly access essential tools and resources, the consistency with which they can access those resources, and the quality of service for tools like video conferencing and collaboration.
There are three challenges facing companies that have a remote workforce:
1. Inconsistency in experiences – In order to protect the security of the systems and data, IT teams are backhauling application and internet traffic from remote workers through the data center before it heads out to the internet or the cloud. This introduces problems with latency and uses up bandwidth.
2. Inconsistency in security policy – Different locations introduce different risks, so many businesses base their security policy on whether the user is accessing resources from a branch location, a remote home-office, or headquarters. This makes it challenging for IT security teams to apply consistent policy across the organization.
3. Misplaced trust – Once a user accesses the network via a virtual private network (VPN), many businesses use an implicit trust model that includes a broad authentication process that grants access to the entire network. A tunnel for a secure VPN used to be considered a trustworthy access point, but with hackers shifting their attention to the remote workforce, they may be able to use any compromised element of a VPN to gain entry.
How SD-WAN and ZTNA Improve Accessibility and Security
Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) virtualizes the network, providing visibility and control over network connectivity. It also offers traffic prioritization so that high-bandwidth-dependent applications like video conferencing can be routed ahead to reliable pathways over an application like email. With SD-WAN, the issue of backhauling to the data center is eliminated, removing the latency and congestion that comes with remote work.
Some SD-WAN solutions are better than others when it comes to security, so look for what’s called “secure SD-WAN”, with security features included in its design rather than added later.
Zero trust network access (ZTNA) is effectively paired with secure SD-WAN to provide robust security for the remote workforce, branch locations, and an overall work-from-anywhere mindset. ZTNA sets clear parameters for access to resources, with employees only granted entry to applications they need to do their jobs.
Its control extends beyond the application, limiting access to devices by user and context, and providing continuous monitoring to easily identify anomalies in access to resources.If your business is pursuing a remote workforce as part of a permanent work environment, contact us at eXemplify. We can help you identify potential vulnerabilities and choose the right SD-WAN solution to pair with ZTNA for a safe and accessible network.