The importance of securing a digital workspace

Cybersecurity has never been more important, especially for companies that depend on digital workspaces. One study found that cybercriminals can breach the network perimeter of 93% of companies today through compromised credentials and exploiting known software and web application vulnerabilities. 

A secure digital workspace keeps your employee, customer, and corporate data safe while keeping you on the side of any industry standards and regulations you need to meet. In this article, we explore why digital workspace security is important and the elements you can put in place to minimise security risks and keep your company operational and productive. 

 

Why is digital workspace security important?

The security needs of a digital workspace are different from what companies have been used to. Traditional security strategies that relied on corporate networks through established perimeters, password authentication, and wide-ranging permissions are now obsolete. 

More employees at all levels work remotely than ever, using third-party applications and cloud-based services on various mobile devices to perform essential work functions. Perimeter-based security systems cannot manage such a decentralised work environment because they weren’t designed to. 

Today’s digital workspaces must have a security policy that can:

  • Prevent data breaches and other cyber attacks. 
  • Comply with industry and legal standards and policies.
  • Provide adequate security for end-users and customers. 

Further, the security strategy must be dynamic enough to evolve with the ever-changing digital workspace technologies while being easy enough to implement and use. Employees will hesitate to use a cumbersome security system and could put your entire company at risk if they bypass it. Likewise, for the IT team, it’s got to be easy to roll out and manage; otherwise, things could be missed or forgotten. 

 

The challenge of security in a digital workspace

The complexity of the digital workspace makes it challenging for companies to secure because of how many different elements and factors are involved. 

Lack of visibility into the digital workspace

Employees are no longer limited by your organisation’s perimeter and can work from anywhere with any device – and that’s just with the devices and systems your IT team is aware of. Shadow IT (apps and services being used without the IT team’s knowledge and approval) makes it harder to maintain data ownership and visibility. 

User management complexity

User management has evolved into user identity management as it needs to cover the humans and devices across an entire network. The network constantly changes as new employees arrive, staff leave or move internally, corporate mergers and acquisitions happen, IoT devices are deployed, and new cloud services are connected. Your company must figure out a way to ensure that only authorised users can access the right resources while striking the right balance between security and efficiency.

Inflexible security strategies

Beyond identity management, digital workspaces need a flexible security strategy that can change based on evolving security risks without hampering employees’ daily activities. It must encompass BYOD, unsecured devices or networks, and password management and be easy to pivot when new security risks evolve.

Outdated security approaches and technology

It’s nearly impossible to prepare for future attacks that haven’t been dreamed up yet, but having an adaptable security approach ensures that any company with a digital workspace is protected from the most current threats. Most companies cannot respond quickly to new cyberattacks because they’re constrained by outdated technology and security approaches. Further, companies may struggle to find the right staff to handle their cybersecurity systems as there is high competition for skilled employees.

 

The elements of a secure digital workspace

Now that you’ve understood the importance of security in a digital workspace and the challenges you might face to secure it, it’s time to look at elements you should incorporate into your digital workspace security strategy.

1. Access control and authentication

Your employees and systems should have the right permissions to access the systems, applications, and data they need to do their work, and no more. The principle of “least privilege” minimises the risk of people or systems being able to use applications they don’t need or see data they shouldn’t see. 

For the digital workspace, a robust access and authentication approach ensures that people or devices with privileged access must pass additional authentication steps if they’re accessing things in a non-usual way. So, a staff member on a business trip doesn’t have access to privileged systems if they’re using a public WiFi network. Meanwhile, a C-suite executive should be given access to his emails and data storage location while accessing the corporate network through a VPN from a predetermined location such as their home or the corporate app on their BYOD corporate mobile device. 

How to do it

Develop robust policies for identity management and authentication at a granular level, so all typical situations are covered. Most identity management systems come with basic setups that you can use right out of the box and then customise as needed for your digital workspace. They already include common policies like two-factor authentication, enforcing high-quality password formats, requiring policy start and end dates to remove access to devices or employees who are no longer with your company, and integrating with additional enterprise security solutions you may already have. 

2. Customised security measures

Customising your digital workspace security measures is essential since no two are the same. Some may be fully remote, while others are hybrid environments using remote and physical locations. The security requirements for both will be different, so enabling a security approach and systems that allow for different security setups is more efficient and cost-effective.

How to do it

  • Microsegmentation: Microsegmented networks allow for individual security protocols for different workloads within a network. Individual systems and services can be protected based on their traffic flows, ensuring appropriate security. IoT devices can have yet another type of security protocol since they may not always be connected to the network and have to use public Internet access to connect. Microsegmentation allows you to detect and quarantine malicious agents once they’ve penetrated your devices or network and prevent more widespread infiltration. 
  • Application-level protection: This ensures that individual applications, such as specific cloud-based ones or ones only ever accessed via mobile devices, are protected appropriately for their use and location. 
  • BYOD security: Mobile security in the digital workspace is critical since 67% of corporate employees use a personal device for work. Using a branded app for access through personal devices or rolling out an easy-to-use VPN solution can help increase security across BYOD devices
  • Zero-trust security: ZT is a flexible and dynamic security approach that can help you deploy and enforce granular security measures across your digital workspace without impacting operations since it’s built for customisation. 

3. Redundant data loss prevention

Protecting corporate data completely is impossible in a digital workspace, given the number of entry points, systems, applications, and devices used at any given time. Adding multiple layers of security across your digital workspace improves security while giving you time to identify and remediate attacks before long-lasting damage is done. 

How to do it

You can enable email attachment encryption, regular security audits for high-value databases, temporary access accounts for high-value systems or data that expire regularly, copy/paste restrictions, and the ability to wipe lost or compromised devices remotely in your workspace. They reduce the risks of data being compromised by limiting access to the information or systems as needed through additional layers of security.

4. Increased employee awareness

Employees are almost always the weakest link in cybersecurity, never more so than in a digital workspace. Cybercriminals take advantage of people’s or device’s remote location and poorly set up security protocols because they know the limitations of people and their devices. Criminals know that employees download unauthorised apps often, write their passwords down in easy-to-find places, don’t lock their mobile devices, or forget to turn on their corporate VPN before checking work emails. 

How to do it

Roll out regular security training for employees so they can properly identify, avoid, and protect themselves from cyber threats. They should be equipped with the right tools, so they’re not tempted to download or use any shadow IT. Management should create and disseminate a clear information management policy so everyone understands which information and data are confidential, where in the digital workspace they should be stored, and what to do if they notice a breach of protocols. 

5. Robust analytics and threat detection

A good security approach for a digital workspace includes comprehensive analytics and threat detection. After all, if you don’t know where your gaps are or how your measures are doing, you won’t know what to adjust or upgrade. 

How to do it

Many security solutions can automatically gather and analyse vast amounts of network usage data to correlate patterns. They’ll create useful reports that your company’s IT team and upper management can use to correlate patterns, diagnose troublesome areas, identify weak spots, and deliver relevant feedback that results in more informed security decisions. You’ll create a flexible, proactive security solution that adapts and changes as your business changes and new threats arise. 

A digital workspace is the next evolution of remote work for today’s companies. It can accelerate productivity and improve the employee experience. It can also increase your company’s security risk by expanding the entry points cybercriminals can attack. With a robust security strategy and flexible security tools, your company can protect your corporate and customer data while maintaining high productivity levels for employees. 

 

To learn how your company can secure your digital workspace, contact Redcentric today. We’ve got the expertise and solutions you need to roll out a secure digital workspace for your modern business.


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