This is a summary of an article written for Forbes Tech Council by Fortinet’s Founder, President, and CTO, Michael Xie. The entire article can be accessed here.
The COVID-19 pandemic unintentionally ended the debate over the efficiency and effectiveness of remote working. Now standard for a significant portion of the global workforce, working remotely is unlikely to ever return to pre-pandemic levels. Because of this, businesses must work toward deploying viable long-term security strategies for their remote workers. Super users, in particular, present some of the biggest challenges.
Understanding the Requirements of Different Users
CISOs and IT teams have long recognized that different users can have very different needs. Those differences inform cybersecurity requirements, which can vary considerably. For example, general users who simply require email access, internet access, and file-sharing can be secured via multifactor authentication (MFA) and a VPN tunnel. The needs of power users – including IT technicians, system admins, and emergency users – build on this; these remote workers need a managed access point at the office that enables 24/7 connections. They also require a secure tunnel back to the internet so they can connect wirelessly while still being able to scan all traffic through firewall filtering.
But at the top of the ladder are super users who take security needs to a whole new level. Super users often deal with a company’s most sensitive information and have privileged access to the most high-level networks. This category includes CEOs, VPs, network admins, research and development teams, and developers who need high-performance connectivity and the ability to log in to multiple remote systems. Because of who they are and what they need access to, super users require the most security and the best user experience possible. This means consistent, reliable, high-performance connectivity with the same levels of security in their remote environment as they had in their corporate office.
Addressing the Security Needs Remote Super Users
Users’ homes are vulnerable to a security breach because IoT devices, family computers, entertainment systems, and more are all connected and may have little to no security features. Because of this, anything on a home network that connects out to the internet is a potential conduit for bad actors.
Super users tend to not only have access to mission-critical corporate resources but are more likely to be high-value individuals prone to targeted attacks. Hence, super users working remotely need a secure island completely firewalled off from the rest of the home network and a secure connection back to the office. The added security, however, must be balanced with super users’ needs for higher connectivity.
Integrating security and networking into one appliance gives users the speed and connectivity they need in a completely secured environment. This can be achieved by deploying a desktop version of a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solution. For practical reasons, the solution must be configured and maintained remotely. This means it must run on the same operating system as the rest of the office network.
Final Thoughts on Remote Super Users
Even before the pandemic, networks have expanded and security needs have intensified in recent years; the global health crisis simply accelerated a preview of where things were already headed. The time to secure data is before it is placed at risk. Often the highest-ranking employees, super users accessing the most valuable information on a network need enterprise-class solutions. Providing the appropriate levels of security for such users is essential to protecting networks, especially as remote work becomes a permanent fixture across organizations.
Read more about how Fortinet customers are maintaining business continuity at scale with integrated and secure Fortinet Teleworker solutions.