As we embrace Cyber Security Month in 2021, the impact of the pandemic can truly be felt, reduced to budgets impacting the ability to invest, while changing work practices have increased the attack surface for most organisations. At the same time, the cyber nasty people have not stopped attacking organisations, with 65% of medium and 64% of large businesses reporting cyber breaches in the last 12 months. It is suspected that 2020 broke all records for data loss caused by breaches, and I am sure 2021 will be another high!

The cyber security topic is far-reaching. It touches many areas of our customers’ IT systems, requiring a holistic, in-depth approach to defence. I am sure my colleague Tim Simons will have much to say on this. For me, I am always considering the impact and risk that our end-users contribute to this conversation.

The pandemic has seen a massive increase in remote workers and, as such, a significant shift in security requirements to protect endpoints, applications, data, identities and our users while they try to carry their daily job responsibilities. 90%+ of breaches are caused by human error and nowhere is that more likely than with our end-users, those who are least likely to be educated and able to spot attacks.

At Proact, we believe that organisations of all sizes need to develop a security practice that is built into the workspace architecture. One that protects your applications, data and users without impacting employees’ productivity and collaboration capabilities.

The three core areas of consideration that will lay the foundation are:

1. Mail and messaging security

Phishing and impersonation attacks are one of the highest causes when it comes to breaches and many traditional email gateway solutions don’t provide adequate protection. Protecting users across email, messaging and collaboration platforms is critical to catching threats before users interact with them.

Consider API integrated security solutions that interact directly to the mail platforms to provide significant improvements in security. These will normally augment the native protections built into platforms like O365 and Google Workspace, ensuring you can leverage existing investments.

2. Secure internet and web gateways

Protecting users, apps and data post-pandemic has changed significantly. Users are no longer behind the traditional perimeter security controls, as well as apps and data no longer residing in the datacentre. Backhauling all user traffic to a central datacentre to then push it out via traditional on-premises security solutions will cause significant performance, productivity and operational overheads. Frustrated end-users and IT support staff are not good for business productivity 😊

You should consider moving web and internet security to the cloud, ensuring users get always-on security regardless of location and device. With a security policy that follows your users, you can ensure consistent protection for all apps and data.

3. Endpoint security

The last line of defence is the protection delivered on the endpoint the user is interacting with (not just Windows, but all endpoint). Ensure you deploy modern Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions that offer threat hunting, threat intelligence and user behaviour capabilities. This will help surface breaches early and limit the spread, and, therefore, the overall impact to the organisation.

From a workspace perspective, the above foundation areas are only part of the journey. To cover every consideration in this article would become a long ramble! Some other areas you need to consider (in no particular order) as part of that defence in-depth conversation are:

  • Security awareness enablement
  • Identity management & Single Sign-On
  • Zero Trust Network Access
  • 24×7 SIEM services
  • Vulnerability intelligence and response
  • Microsoft Teams compliance & governance
  • Data backup and recovery
  • SaaS app security

If you want to catch-up on any of the controls or solutions mentioned, please drop me a line on LinkedIn or via email.

At Proact, we have 20 years’ experience delivering workspace and EUC solutions. Combine this with nearly a decade of delivering managed security solutions and 20 years in the hybrid cloud space, we can bring a unique level of experience and expertise to augment your internal teams.

Rob Sims

Rob Sims

Head of Workspace & Chief Technology Evangelist (UK)

Find Rob on LinkedIn