With hybrid and remote-working arrangements expanding the network perimeter, organizations have to tighten network security without impeding productivity: study

In a survey of 2,600 respondents in more than 10 countries to gain an understanding of the new security risks and challenges caused by the rise of remote-working and cloud transformation, traditional security tools such as virtual private networks did not instill confidence.

Six in 10 respondents had indicated that traditional security tools were still the primary vehicle for employees accessing applications remotely, and 44% were not confident that their access security systems could scale effectively to secure remote-working.

The study by Thales survey has concluded that the global  pandemic has had a significant impact on security infrastructure, particularly on access management and authentication frameworks, pushing organizations to adopt modern security strategies like Zero Trust to support the demands of a more mobile and remote workforce.

Key findings

Respondents in the survey (full details not disclosed) had different systems deployed for remote access. When asked about the technologies that were in place, VPN was the most common, with 60% of IT professionals identifying the capability. Also:

  • Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, cloud-based access and Zero Trust network access/software defined perimeter (ZTNA/SDP) closely followed. When asked what new access technologies respondents were planning to deploy due to the pandemic, 44% indicated zero trust network access and software-defined perimeter (ZTNA/SDP).
  • Nearly 40% of respondents expected to replace their VPN with ZTNA/SDP, while 38% expected to move to a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) solution. 
  • 30% of respondents claimed to have a formal strategy and have actively embraced a Zero Trust policy. Also, 45% were either planning, researching or considering a Zero Trust strategy.
  • 32% of respondents indicated that Zero Trust shaped their cloud security strategy to a great extent.
  • 55% of respondents had adopted two-factor authentication. Regionally, this adoption was 64% in the UK, followed by the US (62%), Asia Pacific region (52%) and LATAM (40%).
  • 71% had indicated that remote access users were still the main use care for adopting MFA. The latter technology still trailed other solutions such as firewalls, endpoint security, SIEM and email security.
  • One-third of respondents that had adopted MFA used more than three different authentication tools.

According to the firm’s Vice President of Access Management solutions, Francois Lasnier: “Businesses are navigating a volatile and complex world, and adopting a zero trust model of cybersecurity will enable them to continue to conduct operations safely amidst the uncertainty. One of the core barriers businesses face when starting their ZTNA journey is the balance between locking down access without interrupting workflow. People require access to sensitive data in order to work and collaborate: business leaders will need to ensure that a drop in productivity doesn’t become an unwanted side effect.”