Remote Work Security: Essential Threats and Solutions
The rise of hybrid and remote work has been transformational for employees and enterprises alike. While workers enjoy increased work-life balance and flexibility, employers have enjoyed increased productivity, reduced overhead, and access to much wider talent pools. But, the remote work revolution hasn’t been without its challenges — not least of which being the rapid dissolution of the enterprise security perimeter.
In combination with the explosive growth in web app use, and the rapid proliferation of connected devices, the hybrid work revolution has whipped up a perfect storm of cyber threats. And bad actors are seizing the opportunity to exploit enterprises and their employees.
Challenges of Remote Work Security
Remote and hybrid work present a unique set of security challenges that are at once numerous and varied. Most of these challenges can be associated either directly or indirectly with the rapid dissolution of the traditional “defense perimeter”.
With over 58% of knowledge workers having permanently adopted a hybrid work model and two-thirds of workers saying hybrid is their preferred way to work, there’s no doubt that hybrid work is here to stay. But, this new normal has done more than reshape where we work. It’s also completely remapped how we work.
And under this new paradigm, web browsing has become the modern employee’s primary gateway to the working world. When taken in combination with the explosive growth in web app use, and the rapid proliferation of connected devices, this process of “browserization” has led to a perfect storm of risk — and malicious actors are seizing on the opportunity.
According to a recent report from Menlo Security, nearly two thirds of organizations have had a device compromised by a browser-based attack in just the past 12 months. And there’s no indication that this trend will be slowing anytime soon. Indeed, the number of browser-based zero-day exploits exploited in the wild has skyrocketed over the past three years as well. Even Google has admitted to as much, offering a range of explanations (including “evolved attacker focus”) in a blog post authored by Adrian Taylor of the Chrome Security Team.
Taylor also explains that browsers’ growing complexity has added to the number of zero-day vulnerabilities. “…software has bugs,” Taylor writes. “Some fraction of those bugs are exploitable. Browsers increasingly mirror the complexity of operating systems — providing access to your peripherals, filesystem, 3D rendering, GPUs — and more complexity means more bugs.”
Identifying and Mitigating Security Risks: The Browser is Only the Beginning
For these reasons, remote work security has become synonymous with browsing security. And, to make matters worse, the browsing attack surface is growing. There was once a time when all web browsing took place within web browsers (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox), but this is no longer the case. Today, web browsing has started to expand beyond the bounds of browsers themselves, and as a result, the reach of browsing threats has expanded as well.
A growing number of applications whose primary function is not web browsing are allowing users to engage in web browsing without ever leaving the confines of the application itself. This is most commonly associated with “in-app browsers”. These software components, such as WebView, enable users to open URLs within an application, emulating the core functionality of traditional web browsers.
They are most commonly found in social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but their use appears to be growing more widespread, as developers seek ways to keep users inside their apps longer. Moreover, although in-app browsers are a serious concern, they aren’t the only way in which modern application architectures extend the reach of browsing-based threats beyond the boundaries of web browsers themselves.
In fact, any application that allows users to access remote files, follow hyperlinks or engage in chat is in effect enabling the act of web browsing outside the boundaries of web browsers themselves. And this remains true of our modern, SaaS-based enterprise environment. Many of today’s most widely-used enterprise applications allow for the act of web browsing to take place outside the boundaries of web browsers, and novel threats seem to crop up by the day.
In the context of remote and hybrid work environments, employees are using more SaaS-based collaboration and communication tools than ever before. And malicious actors are constantly cooking up ways to leverage these new technologies for harm. Look no further than the recent scourge of Zoombombings to recognize that, in order to secure the web browsing attack surface, we must secure more than just the browser.
Best Practices for Remote Work Security
This is why, when it comes to identifying and mitigating these remote work risks, it’s imperative that organizations adopt the right tools for the job. While many organizations have since adopted tools meant to address web security, the vast majority of these legacy solutions were not created with remote work in mind. Many of these solutions either lack comprehensive security coverage or present too many disruptions to the end-user experience, including latency and reduced functionality.
This is why when seeking out remote security solutions, organizations must keep in mind a number of critical characteristics, including:
1. Secure every browsing activity
As explained above, web browsing is no longer unique to web browsers. As such, to be truly effective, secure browsing solutions must secure every web session, across the entire browsing attack surface, across any browser or SaaS-application.
2. Agentless architecture
In the age of remote work, agentless security architectures are essential to stay ahead of zero-days, and not fall victim to the dreaded patch gap. Moreover, agentless solutions are essential for minimizing overhead for overworked admins.
3. Agnostic to all platforms
Remote and hybrid work environments are increasingly synonymous with “bring-your-own-device” policies, which means security solutions should be, at a minimum, device, OS, and browser agnostic. In the age of flexible work, it’s critical that security solutions are equally flexible.
4. Seamless user experience
Even the most advanced security solutions in the world are of no benefit if employees refuse to use them. With the scourge of shadow IT growing by the day, it’s imperative that organizations adopt tools that are non-disruptive to end-users.
Red Access Offers a New Solution to Remote & Hybrid Work Security
It’s become abundantly clear that remote and hybrid work are here to stay. As such, organizations must rethink the way they secure their workforce both in the office and out.
Red Access is the first and only fully agentless secure browsing solution capable of securing every web session, no matter where it originates from. Red Access provides a non-disruptive, easy-to-deploy, and simple-to-manage solution, which enables full control and visibility across devices and assets — whether your workforce is fully remote, hybrid, or in-office.
Red Access’s secure browsing solution also promises complete coverage of the full spectrum of browsing threats — including threats to files, identity, and data. We offer single-click deployment, no end-point installation, and zero latency for end-users.
Ready to secure your remote workforce? Schedule your free trial of Red Access today!