Securing the borderless enterprise

Work from home is now an accepted practice. Companies thus need to change policies and implement new security measures to secure themselves in the work-from-anywhere world.

Johannesburg, 10 Nov 2020
Read time 3min 50sec
Dean Wolson, Country Manager – Africa, Infoblox
Dean Wolson, Country Manager – Africa, Infoblox

If there is one dramatic change that has been driven in the business arena by the advent of COVID-19, it has been the need for organisations globally to allow employees to work from home. In other words, the crisis has forced companies to become ‘borderless’.

The ‘borderless enterprise’ is one that is characterised by high levels of remote work, high adoption of cloud-based services and applications, and a large number of dispersed Internet of things (IOT), mobile and other devices. A 2020 global survey of IT decision-makers by Zogby Analytics has provided insight into how the pandemic has changed most enterprises’ attitudes towards the ‘borderless’ principle.

Dean Wolson, Country Manager – Africa at Infoblox, suggests that the need to go borderless in order to survive the crisis occurred worldwide. He points to statistics from the survey, which show that, globally, 70.1% of companies had more than half of their staff working remotely at some point during the pandemic.

“Of course, there is little doubt that trends in business technology and employee preferences were already driving many businesses to adopt the basic characteristics of the ‘borderless enterprise’. Remote work, in particular, was already happening in many places in notable, but far from overwhelming, numbers,” he points out.

“The survey shows that the COVID-19 crisis has had a tremendous impact on the adoption of remote work and the transition to a borderless enterprise. Prior to the pandemic, just 21% of organisations globally had over half of their employees working remotely. During the crisis, this figure jumped to more than 50% of companies having over half their workforce operating remotely.”

Furthermore, the crisis affected expectations going forward, adds Wolson, with 40% of surveyed organisations now expecting more than half of their workforce to continue working remotely. Clearly, figures like these demonstrate that the borderless enterprise is here to stay.

“It’s not surprising to learn that the biggest technology challenges businesses faced in transitioning to a work from home environment involved distributing approved devices, building network infrastructure and securing users’ network/Internet activity.

“After all, prior to the pandemic and associated lockdown, VPN access, secure DNS, secure Web gateway and cloud security solutions were the most commonly provided network cyber security services. These new services are overwhelmingly perceived as effective in securing employees and protecting networks, both globally and among individual countries surveyed.”

As a result of the crisis, he continues, more than 50% of enterprises globally have changed at least some policies about the use of personal applications – such as Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom – on work devices.

“In fact, it appears that today, the number of organisations that allow these apps is now higher than the number that prohibited them. In fact, the percentage of organisations globally that allow these applications rose by 50% – from 42% before the crisis to over 63% afterwards,” suggests Wolson.

“Of course, this creates new challenges for enterprise decision-makers, such as employees preferring to continue working from home, not to mention more people bringing their own devices to the office when they return.”

Perhaps most challenging is the fact that half of those surveyed are already seeing more attempted cyber attacks, such as malware exploits targeting the edge, phishing and other social engineering attacks. These businesses have responded with a host of security measures, including cloud-managed DDI, multi-factor authentication and DNS security.

“Despite this, most indicated that better threat detection and/or mitigation for remote work tools, better visibility into devices connecting to the corporate network, visibility into all cloud apps employees are using and better visibility into devices that are compromised would all help enable better remote work for employees.”

“What is undoubtedly obvious from this survey is that the borderless enterprise is not only here to stay, but it is going to continue growing as we move forward. This is indicated best by the figure that shows that fewer than 10% of those surveyed do not consider investments in their digital and cloud-managed services to be a priority. Everyone else is either re-evaluating their digital transformation and cloud strategy or has already made significant investments in their digital and cloud-managed services,” he concludes.

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