How to Secure Your Hybrid Workforce

As more forward-thinking organizations prepare to deploy their strategic distributed workforce initiative, IT teams must protect corporate data assets from known and unknown security risks, while also enabling employees to adopt new flexible working models.

That said, are you and your leadership team prepared to secure a hybrid workforce?

According to the latest market assessment by McKinsey & Company [1], the typical IT response to the COVID-19 crisis has also created new security vulnerabilities. Attackers exploit the gaps opened when remote working employees use insecure devices and networks.

Moreover, McKinsey’s survey of digital business sentiment revealed that most employees who are now telecommuting do not expect to return to the workplace. And, 70 percent of survey respondents say the ability to work anywhere will factor into their next job choice.

Given this scenario, enterprise CIOs and CISOs must now take decisive action to secure the Anywhere-Work environment, enabling knowledge workers to focus on driving new value and growth, while frontline employees support customers and supply chain partners.

Compelling Benefits of Digital Workspace Solutions

Research findings from an Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) economic validation [2] highlight the growing importance of secure access solutions. Digital transformation initiatives have tasked IT organizations to support a mobile workforce across a range of employee devices.

The ESG research study revealed that 70 percent of all workers now expect to be productive from anywhere, and 57 percent of all workers expect to be able to perform most of their job tasks from any device. Meanwhile, IT organizations learned that modern Digital Workspace solutions can improve the employee experience and make their devices much more secure.

In addition to increased protection, one organization reported that their security team was glad that all data was encrypted in transit, there was no data stored on the device, and devices could be securely wiped of any access information if the employee were to leave the organization.

ESG validated that VMware Workspace ONE Access has significantly reduced IT complexity and provided enhanced business agility — while empowering workers with a secure, consistent, and simple user experience for all online applications.

Business Case for Secure Access Management

The organizations included in the research study consisted of enterprises in the technology, finance, and healthcare sectors supporting more than 10,000 users and a mix of internal and public applications accessed by corporate-owned and employee-owned devices — including laptop and desktop computers, tablets, or personal smartphones.

Here’s a list of advantages that are proven to deliver the most desired improvements.

Workspace attack surface reduction — As the number of applications provisioned to employees increases, so does the number of passwords, credentials, and points of access that they need to remember and manage. Passwords are vulnerable to phishing and hacking, and they are frequently reused for different applications. To keep track of them, users often store passwords in insecure places.

Federated identity and access bring convenience by letting a user authenticate once to access multiple, if not all, applications. Single sign-on (SSO) provides the dual benefit of enhancing the user experience and reinforcing secure access to the workspace.

With federation, you can extend the range of authentication methods, such as using multi-factor authentication (MFA), as well as step-up authentication demands when needed or to impose remediation measures.

Lower IT help desk costs — For many organizations, the key benefit of federated identities revolves around lowering the cost and time devoted to password management. Integrating multiple realms of trust and identity stores through SSO significantly reduces the number of passwords that users must remember.

The ability to use MFA, such as biometrics, instead of entering a password, lowers password reset costs — the IT business case for moving to federation is often built on this benefit alone. Password resets are consistently ranked among the most frequent calls handled by IT help desks.

Organizations without a federation solution typically deal with 4 to 12 credential management support issues per user, per year. Managing a help desk ticket usually costs around $15, so the potential savings is easily demonstrated.

Improved employee experience — Employees welcome the idea of easier access and reducing the time devoted to password management and resolving issues. With federated identity and access, employees can securely access their corporate resources anywhere from any device, including their personal ones, facilitating hybrid work, and working from home.

Accurate management of entitlements — Federated identity and access solutions are easier to integrate with human resource (HR) management systems, providing more accurate control of a user’s entitlements throughout employment.

Some of the benefits are quicker access to corporate applications and systems during new-hire onboarding, the ability to rapidly modify entitlements when an employee’s role changes, and easy revocation of all entitlements when the employee leaves the organization.

You can also give job applicants and former employees partial access to corporate systems. Accurate entitlement management lets employees achieve full productivity faster, improves their working experience, and helps protect corporate data and intellectual property.

Workspace security for flexible work styles — Work as we know it is changing. It is now essential to have all the resources we need to stay informed and to get work done from anywhere and on any device, enabling the best combination of office and remote work.

Employees increasingly use multiple and differing devices, not all of which are company-owned, running a variety of applications from different locations. In response, a growing number of IT organizations are implementing ‘zero trust’ frameworks, where access to corporate resources is granted only after verifying multiple factors that are defined by corporate policy.

To be effective, the verification process must be easy for the user yet allow the IT organization to alter the verification factors in real-time as risks change. Federated identity and access support zero trust by enabling flexibility in the way users work without compromising the security of corporate applications and data.

Next Steps: Protect Your Hybrid Workforce

The Digital Workspace journey unlocks next-generation levels of employee engagement and productivity by enabling new work styles and processes. But it also demands a new approach that ensures secure access to corporate resources and a streamlined user experience.

For additional insights on how to enable your employees to work from anywhere with secure, frictionless experiences, download the eBook “Empower the Future of Work with Digital Workspace Solutions.”

Sources:

[1] McKinsey: A Dual Cybersecurity Mindset for The Next Normal

[2] ESG: The Economic Benefits of VMware Workspace ONE Access

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