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The Modern Secure
Network Blog

Product & Engineering

Protecting Work-From-Home Users for Today and Beyond

monnia-deng
By Monnia Deng
Senior Product Marketing Manager
December 16, 2020
For Business Continuity, Enabling WFH Pervasively is Essential 

Businesses must enable a robust, scalable, and secure work-from-home (WFH) solution to ensure that they are able to thrive regardless of any global, regional, or local events such as the pandemic of 2020.  Giving employees both the flexibility to work in the office or at home comes with its unique set of challenges. 

To enable WFH, businesses must allow home workers to use their personal networks and devices to access business critical applications that may be hosted at a corporate datacenter or in the cloud. There are a number of security and IT issues that arise when allowing remote connectivity to critical business applications: 

  • Increased attack surface with hundreds of thousands of points of access 
  • Security vulnerabilities and gaps in devices and appliances  
  • Performance issues due to increased traffic and backhauled connections 
  • Policy enforcement issues with disparate products and solutions 
  • Segmentation problems for different levels of access control 
Legacy VPN Is Not Enough

Historically, businesses protected remote connectivity with a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. VPN secures the connection between the home device and the network through an encrypted channel. This type of connection, while sufficient for point uses cases, is not sufficient to address the massive wave of work-from-home users. For example, a traditional VPN configuration backhauls all traffic through the corporate data center, exposing a direct link to critical on-premises data. Even in a split tunnel approach, the VPN still creates a direct link to the corporate data center because VPN gateways can still be easily discovered by attackers. 

With the adoption of cloud applications, more and more sensitive IP is now being stored in cloud applications that are not directly managed by your IT team. Protecting against unauthorized access and data loss from these 3rd party applications has historically relied on a single sign-on and/or multi-factor authentication that protects the login, but not much beyond that. With disparate management consoles and fragmented visibility, legacy VPN does not adequately protect you’re the network nor does it even begin to address the security gaps of cloud applications.  

Optimizing for Performance Requires A Global Presence

Organizations invested millions of dollars in protecting their network perimeter, which in a post-pandemic world, is insufficient. The security capabilities that are typically part of a traditional architecture such as next generation firewall, intrusion prevention systems (IPS), threat detection and prevention, role-based access control (RBAC) should be readily available to home users accessing critical applications, no matter where those applications are hosted. Organizations need to make it a requirement that there is seamless user access to any application that a particular user is authorized to access, anytime, from anywhere. 

In order to achieve this, there needs to be reimagination of IT architecture: one where hundreds of cloud gateways around the world can intelligently steer traffic and segment application access from the home device. These global gateways need to be contextually aware of application access, whether that application is hosted (in the corporate data center or in the cloud), and able to apply the right security policies based on the user and device accessing, and then direct traffic accordingly. Instead of using a VPN to secure a user accessing a data center or cloud service, a user should be automatically connected to a cloud gateway, applied the right security measures, and then sent to the intended application. This approach not only obfuscates reconnaissance attacks by hackers and also increases business performance due to dynamic steering based on usage and fast failover strategies. 

Drop Fragmented Solutions for a Cohesive WFH Approach

While there many vendors that offer work-from-home solutions for both performance and security, much of the functionality are cobbled together from disparate products. The best way to optimize speed and security is to look for a vendor that has a fully integrated single software stack that does not rely on service chaining or connecting multiple functions/services together. Choosing a vendor that has stitched together disparate products not only introduces deployment, management, and administrative complexity, it also greatly increases the total cost of ownership.

Versa offers a WFH solution that is designed to use a Single-Pass Parallel Processing architecture that combines full-featured SD-WAN, comprehensive integrated security, advanced scalable routing, genuine multi-tenancy, and sophisticated analytics into one software solution. This integration dramatically decreases latency, significantly improves performance, and mitigates security vulnerabilities introduced when running multiple software stacks, service chains, or appliances. In a post-COVID world where WFH is here to stay and legacy VPN needs to go, this reimagining of remote workforce connectivity meets all the performance, security, and cost requirements of your IT team.