Working remotely has dramatically increased due to the pandemic and essentially has become the norm for most businesses. In many ways, however, employers and their employees are still facing challenges when it comes to working from home successfully. Companies and employees must adapt to virtual environments and work independently while trusting one another from afar to work efficiently and safely. With cyberthreats also on the rise (especially with current events unfolding), businesses need tools to facilitate and safeguard employee productivity while also ensuring that the corporate network and vital business data remains secure.
Firewalls – Protecting Corporate Network from Unauthorized Access
One of the ways companies can protect their corporate network from unauthorized access while also having more control over whether their employees are working safely, is by implementing firewalls. Think of firewalls as your eyes and ears when you are not there.
To stop cyber attacks in their tracks, placing a firewall on your employees’ computers will allow for your employees to work from home without the added concern of your private data being compromised. A firewall will monitor for you any threats of unauthorized access, such as suspicious traffic from the internet, and will only allow access to traffic that the company has declared a trusted source. By protecting your corporate network, you can have confidence that your employees are adhering to your specific security requirements while working remotely.
According to Norton, firewalls can provide different levels of protection. The key is determining how much protection you need. Types of firewalls to consider include:
- Packet-filtering firewalls
- Proxy service firewalls
- Stateful multi-layer inspection (SMLI) firewalls
- Unified threat management (UTM) firewalls
- Next-generation firewalls (NGFW)
- Network address translation (NAT) firewalls
- Virtual firewalls
Firewalls will most likely continue to be a main source of protection for corporate networks, especially with more employees working remotely. Moving past logins, as we discussed in a previous blog, companies are embracing layered approaches to security including implementing Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). Another way companies are incorporating added security measures is through an SD-WAN (software-defined WAN), the latest in security policing.
SD-WAN – Security Policies Applied from a Central Location
Implementing firewalls to secure your corporate network is an important step, but it doesn’t overcome other significant security challenges such as the lack of visibility many IT departments have into the online behavior of at-home employees during company time. As well, today’s remote employees often navigate between multiple communication, collaboration and other productivity applications, further elevating concerns around potential security vulnerabilities. While the utilization of WANs (wide-area network) was the go-to for companies and their IT departments, the increase in the use of SaaS (software as a service) and cloud applications has created a demand for having an advanced means of protection for employees, especially those working remotely. When working in the cloud, new types of threats open up as employees use the internet.
While WANs serve their purpose and have done a great job at connecting employees to servers, there is a whole new world of security concerns to think about. Working in the cloud requires a different set of security measures. This is where an SD-WAN (software-defined WAN) allows new-age security policies to be applied from a central location.
According to Cisco, SD-WAN is a software-defined approach to managing the WAN. Key advantages include:
- Reducing costs with transport independence across MPLS, 4G/5G LTE, and other connection types.
- Improving application performance and increasing agility.
- Optimizing user experience and efficiency for software-as-a-service (SaaS) and public-cloud applications.
- Simplifying operations with automation and cloud-based management.
UC Platforms – Giving Employees Tools to Collaborate and Communicate
Giving employees the right tools to collaborate and communicate effectively in both the digital age and uncertain times, is essential to conducting business across multiple platforms and devices. UC (unified communications) solutions are quickly becoming a company’s main tool in being able to communicate with their employees through audio, video, team messaging, content sharing, and other ways of collaboration.
UC products are also beneficial in allowing the company to control what channels its employees utilize when discussing internal matters or private information. It allows for the company to integrate their network and other applications into one unified toolbox for the whole team – remote or otherwise, to engage and use their time effectively.
Helping Employers Guide and Manage What Their Employees are Doing
As we have touched on, working from home has increased dramatically. With that, the way a company manages its employees and what they are doing on company time at home has found its way into the must-dos of any company’s IT team. Making sure employees have the most efficient and secure home office available is a necessity in today’s world.
The best way to grow your business while making sure your employees are working in a safe, secure, and productive virtual environment is to invest in a unified technology solution that covers not only collaboration and productivity, but also comprehensive security. Too often, companies struggle to make sense of multiple, disparate tools that cause integration troubleshooting issues and are hard to manage at a high level.
To help you keep your employees productive and your corporate data secure, we’ve written an e-book – Work Anywhere – Boost Employee Performance & Protection Against Cyber Attacks in 1 Powerful Move. Inside, we talk about the pros and cons of managing a hybrid workforce and what you need to know to keep your business safe. We will also provide you with a solution!
For more information on Xtel’s solutions for companies with a hybrid workforce, visit www.xtel.net/work-from-home.
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