Predictions For Securing Today's Hybrid Workforce

Since requirements differ for users who work both from home and in the office, policies — and underlying technology — must adapt.

Kanishka Pandit, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Zscaler

January 31, 2023

4 Min Read
A meeting with people around the table and looking at a screen on the wall with other colleagues dialing in virtually.
Source: Mediteraneo via Adobe Stock Photo

The demand for remote work has only grown since the serious transition began almost three years ago. Organizations have seen the benefits of working remotely. Still, they have also been transitioning into much more of a hybrid work environment, where employees are allowed to work both from home and in the office, choosing the days they want to collaborate in person. Several companies have seen success in this hybrid work environment, having begun testing this new way of working since the fall of 2022.

The transition to a hybrid workforce has meant that security teams are on high alert, since they now have to protect the internal office network and secure connectivity from multiple locations their users are working. The looming fear of more outbreaks and recession has IT leaders considering robust solutions to protect their hybrid workforce in the longer term. The following are predictions for hybrid work in 2023.

Return to the Office Will Demand Better Access

Hybrid work is here to stay! Yes, yes, I know it's been said many times, but it really is. While this is the reality of the foreseeable future, employees demand a better user experience while working from the office and remote locations.

During the sudden switch to remote work, IT leaders turned to VPNs as an easy way to fix a short-term problem. However, given the current scenario of a long-term hybrid workforce, this strategy needs to be reconsidered. And that's what several organizations are doing as they find zero trust to be a more reliable and scalable solution. Having tested zero trust for remote employees, we fully expect zero trust to apply universally to remote and in-office users.

Ransomware, Multifaceted Extortion Will Continue to Grow

With the increase in locations of connectivity, so too is the attack surface growing. The number of exposed vulnerabilities has increased, and so has the risk. Hybrid work will increase the adoption of bring your own device (BYOD) in 2023. With the multitude of devices, we'll see the general attack surface expand with the potential for profound impact. Over the past couple of years, we have heard several cases of ransomware being introduced to company networks due to exploited VPN servers. These stories will continue to make headlines in 2023 as well. There needs to be an additional emphasis on security for the work-from-anywhere workforce and a fundamental change to how security teams look at securing the perimeter and resources.

Final Nail In VPN Coffin

Virtual private networks are old news. Traditional networks, VPNs, and DMZs use IP addresses and network locations to establish network connectivity for users. This architecture was built over 30 years ago to provide users access to data center applications, not modern cloud-based ones. In addition, VPNs are being used as a conduit for cyberattacks due to legacy architecture, and there is a need for continuous assessment to manage appliances. Finally, due to their slow connectivity, users complain about VPNs hampering their productivity. Users are looking for seamless, scalable, and secure access to applications in your data center or a public cloud without needing a VPN.

Security Is Now a Shared Responsibility

Networking and IT leaders have had to adopt new technologies and infrastructure to match the modern way of work. News surrounding security exploits in the recent past has forced increased attention to cyber-risks. Businesses globally are increasingly exposed, placing security teams under immense pressure. Security is now vital and will be a shared responsibility that spans from individuals to IT, supply chains, and the C-suite. 2023 will see an increase in the adoption of zero trust for the hybrid workforce to provide complete security from the users to the applications, no matter where they connect.

Cloud Security Solutions At the Forefront

Protecting users, data, and applications is integral to providing a secure hybrid work environment. We predict cloud security as the primary security solution as security appliances and hardware security solutions slowly fade away. Organizations will also look for platforms that offer a broader solution set to ensure they are secure and can justify their investment. Security service edge (SSE) is fast becoming a reliable solution for remote work, the cloud, secure edge computing, and digital transformation. Delivered as a unified cloud-centric platform, SSE enables organizations to break free from the challenges of traditional network security.

Read more Partner Perspectives from Zscaler.

About the Author(s)

Kanishka Pandit

Senior Product Marketing Manager, Zscaler

Kanishka Pandit is a senior product marketing manager at Zscaler. She has over 15 years of experience in software tech as a software developer and as a marketer and is passionate about cybersecurity and threat prevention. Kanishka currently helps organizations leverage Zscaler in securely transitioning from in-office to remote and hybrid work.

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