Cybersecurity at Home: How Remote Work Is Impacting Cybersecurity Needs
How Working from Home Will Impact Cybersecurity
With the recent move of many companies to have their staff work from home in a bid to help “flatten the curve,” people are wondering if this solution will end up becoming permanent. While physical safety is important, cybersecurity is also critical to companies. Many had to scramble to set up or expand their work-from-home capabilities in response to the recent health crisis.
People rely on technology to connect with family, friends, coworkers, or look for a new job. The internet has seen a major spike in the number of online users at any single time. A Canadian nonprofit, the Toronto Internet Exchange, also known as TorIX, provides a clear representation of the recent increase in the number of users online. The data shows a spike in usage as soon as social distancing measures were implemented in Toronto.
Working from Home and Cybersecurity
Recently, Fast Company interviewed 30 CEOs to find out what they think would change after COVID-19. The majority of the respondents spoke about two things: working from home and cybersecurity.
Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, expressed, “The pandemic has resulted in what is effectively the largest ‘work from home’ experiment ever conducted in human history . . . We’re seeing the effect on the internet, in terms of traffic patterns that are shifting. People are accessing more educational resources online for their kids; finding unconventional ways to connect with coworkers, friends, and family; and employers are being more flexible in how they respond to employee needs through more dynamic, cloud-based technology. I think we’ll see these shifts last well beyond the immediate fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The Shift to Work from Home and Its Effect on Cybersecurity
With the shift to work from home, many organizations were compelled to expand or move to a more digital or cloud-based presence. But not everyone had the same experience. Individuals working to support school systems took the brunt. Besides testing software, they had to work around school and district policies. As a result, many are upgrading to secure access service edge or SASE (more on this below).
While the heaviest of the burden has been in the education field, the shift has impacted every sector of the workforce, especially those in healthcare companies and law firms, and on a federal level. Cybersecurity experts in these verticals have been reconfiguring traditional virtual private networks (VPN) to support more remote users, ensure end-to-end encryption, and stay compliant with HIPAA standards.
For those unable to support remote work previously, affordable VPN and reliable communication services abound, and most use fairly strong encryption. In the same Fast Company interview cited above, Michael Hendrix, global design director of IDEO, has this to say about the current and future state of our workforce: “What organizations resisted for a decade is now core to survival and innovation. It is exciting, because this digital mindset will persist, and it is highly unlikely companies will try to return to what worked prior to the pandemic.”
What the Future of Cybersecurity Looks Like Post-COVID-19
The future could grow in a variety of ways post-COVID-19. By examining the difficulties companies are facing now, we can guess what the future may hold sooner rather than later. Quick changes to technology are nothing new for the cybersecurity industry. They’re something the industry has evolved to handle efficiently.
Secure Access Service Edge
The need for end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and support for a variety of computer and network systems is higher than ever. More companies are utilizing SASE solutions to keep up with the demand, and they are quickly becoming a standard due to the flexibility they offer.
While SASE is still a new concept, it has vastly improved cybersecurity. What makes it so appealing to all verticals is its ability to provide uninterrupted user access regardless of location. It is also cloud-native, globally distributed, identity-driven, and provides ample customization for organizations.
Some organizations have begun looking into blockchain, a method of creating records of data that are managed by a cluster of computers. The blocks of data are strung together via crypto text like a chain, hence blockchain.
Due to the nature of blockchain, exploring how to incorporate the technology into cybersecurity makes sense. Blockchain has no known “hackable” entrance or point of failure that may expose any data sets. Combined with biometrics, this can be a major game changer for cybersecurity.
What hasn’t been touched on yet is quantum computing, which is a way to quickly decipher ciphertext. While there is both excitement and fear around this technology, it is currently too costly to implement. More importantly, previously encrypted materials could be at risk of falling into the wrong hands. As such, it is easy to understand why organizations are apprehensive.
However, quantum-based encryption is speculated to be the most difficult encryption to decipher. A few companies are also frequently testing algorithms to find flaws and security risks as development on the technology continues. Fortunately, the day quantum computing becomes effective enough to be used by hackers is far off from now.
While it is hard to visualize the future of cybersecurity, it is safe to say we now know what needs to be addressed in the next few years. Cybersecurity is used to playing catch-up to rapidly address emerging issues and augment limitations.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, around 56% of all non-self-employed U.S. workers could work from home. Hence, post-COVID, we can expect an uptick in the number of employees working from home. For companies employing them, this can mean cost savings and reduced anxiety over their employees’ welfare.
With so many companies making the shift, the need to implement more stringent cybersecurity measures will be direr than ever. Employers will need to support lifelong learning or hire more qualified individuals to secure their systems. With the ever-evolving cybersecurity threats and fixes available to organizations like SASE and blockchain, the field of cybersecurity is growing and likely to improve work-from-home safety for companies.