April 13, 2022
4 Keys to Securing Your Hybrid Work Environment
As workplaces and IT environments continue to change, security strategies must evolve as well.
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a huge spike in remote work — much of which has evolved into hybrid work (employees splitting their time between their homes and the physical office) as the public health picture has improved.
This trend toward hybrid work actually forced many companies into a hybrid cloud model, as their VPN infrastructure wasn’t designed (in some cases) for an entire workforce environment. Many companies who were considering moving to the cloud were compelled to ramp up cloud migrations, pushing them to integrate their on-premises infrastructure with public and private cloud resources.
To ensure security for their hybrid work models, organizations must secure their hybrid cloud IT environments. As they do so, here are four key considerations that cybersecurity leaders should keep in mind.
Security tools need to be as flexible as the workloads and employees they are protecting. This means that organizations must have visibility into, and control over, all their environments. This is especially true if they are using a multicloud model, with resources in more than one public cloud environment (in addition to their on-premises data centers). Organizations may have workloads in multiple environments for reasons ranging from performance and cost to agility. The environment also may be more complex due to mergers and acquisitions, based on the technology and level of cybersecurity maturity of the combined companies. In more complex environments, there’s often more that can go wrong. It’s not uncommon for organizations to accidentally set up cloud resources as publicly accessible. By implementing security tools that reach across multiple environments and automatically scan for compliance variances within corporate policies and best practices, IT staff can spot and close these gaps.
The period when resources are migrating from an on-premises data center to a public cloud environment is a critical juncture for security. Mergers and acquisitions present a prime migration opportunity, because moving to the public cloud may require less effort than an attempt to integrate multiple on-premises data centers. Downtime is certainly less than with the old-school approach of forklifting servers from one location to another. During migration, organizations need tools that are capable of scanning for vulnerabilities on both sides of the migration process — and that will continue to scan for compliance after the migration is complete.
Security tools and practices must be integrated into multiple environments. One example of a tool that offers this level of integration is an Extended Detection and Response platform. XDR differs from Endpoint Detection and Response tools, or EDR, which are — as the name suggests — designed to provide protection for corporate endpoints such as servers and other devices. While it is critically important to protect endpoints, they are only one component of IT infrastructure. A proper XDR solution provides visibility across an organization’s infrastructure, including not only endpoints, but also on-premises servers, virtual machines, cloud workloads, email and the network infrastructure.
As IT environments grow, the automation of discovery and protection of public, private and virtual cloud environments (while protecting the network layer) is key to enabling security in a hybrid environment. Security solutions that can scan and automatically alert to threat, vulnerability and compliance concerns are a must in this do-more-with-less cybersecurity world. However, some IT professionals have become overwhelmed by “alert fatigue,” and so it is important to automate the path from detection to resolution whenever possible. In some instances, automated security tools can send an alert, open a ticket, spur an IT management system to initiate remediation processes, verify compliance, and send notifications to the proper team regarding the issue and its resolution, preferably without human intervention.
Story by Steve Allison, an accomplished cybersecurity expert, thought leader and mentor. He has over 30 years of DOD intelligence, cybersecurity, risk management and forensic investigation experience.