Truly Secure Remote Access is Essential for Enterprise Collaboration

COVID-19 drove business collaboration online. As a result, organizations require enterprise remote access solutions that provide secure, scalable access to enterprise collaboration tools.

COVID-19 Changed the Face of Enterprise Collaboration

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a high percentage of enterprise collaboration occurred in the office. While email and corporate collaboration apps (like Slack) were in common use, so were in-person meetings and notes left on desks.

With the sudden switch to remote work due to COVID-19, this all changed. Instead of in-person meetings, collaboration occurred over Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, and similar tools. While this had some advantages for businesses (such as the reduced corporate travel budget), it also has its downsides.

Enterprise Collaboration Apps Are a Common Target of Cyberattacks

One of the biggest impacts of a switch to online business communications is that these platforms became a common target of cyberattack. Cybercriminals look for targets that are relatively easy to exploit and that have a significant impact, which can translate to a large payoff.

As enterprise collaboration apps became “critical infrastructure” for business, they also came under serious attack by cybercriminals. During COVID-19, phrases like Zoom-bombing became household terms, and enterprise collaboration apps were increasingly exploited for phishing attacks and malware delivery.

High-Performance Secure Remote Access is Needed

Protecting enterprise collaboration and sensitive data requires securing access to these collaboration applications. In most cases, the most effective way to do so is to implement an enterprise secure remote access solution.

An enterprise remote access solution is designed to ensure that only legitimate, authenticated users have access to corporate applications and other resources. These solutions, like the virtual private network (VPN), enable an organization to put sensitive applications behind a firewall and make them only accessible remotely through a certain protected gateway.

However, when working with enterprise collaboration tools, high network performance is a crucial feature for a secure remote access solution. When employees are using this tool to securely connect to videoconferencing platforms, it is essential that the infrastructure be able to keep up with the load placed on it. Otherwise, business meetings become endless cycles of “Sorry, I didn’t hear that”, or of collaboration apps crashing altogether due to their inability to receive packets quickly enough to sustain continuous audio and video.

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Legacy Solutions Don’t Meet Business Needs

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenges of working remotely were considered a temporary thing that would end once everyone returned to the office. However, many organizations are now considering extended or permanent support for remote work post-pandemic. This means that they need to ensure that they have the necessary infrastructure in place to securely and sustainably support a remote workforce.

As many organizations discovered early in the COVID-19 pandemic, legacy enterprise remote access solutions like VPNs simply don’t cut it. They have a number of limitations that make them ill-suited to balancing the security and performance requirements of the modern, remote business, such as:

  • Limited Scalability: VPNs do not scale well. This was made abundantly clear early in the COVID-19 pandemic when organizations’ VPN infrastructures were crashing under the sudden load created by a mostly or wholly remote workforce. Security workarounds like split-tunnel VPNs have their own challenges, and investing in enough VPN infrastructure to support a fully remote workforce is a poor long-term investment.
  • Lack of Access Control: VPNs provide an authenticated user with full access to all systems, applications, and resources on the corporate network. This undermines the security of the enterprise network since a single compromised account provides full access to corporate resources.
  • Inefficient Routing: Corporate VPNs typically backhaul traffic through the enterprise network for security inspection before forwarding it on to its destination. This creates significant network latency that degrades or destroys the performance of latency-sensitive apps, such as corporate communications platforms.

As organizations look to the future of remote work, they need to acknowledge the fact that their existing security investments, which were designed for different networks with different needs, simply do not meet their current requirements. A modern enterprise needs something better.

ZTNA and SASE Are the Answer

As organizations adapt to support a remote workforce, they need to deploy security solutions built for the modern enterprise. A crucial first step in this process is replacing legacy VPNs with a modern enterprise remote access solution like zero trust network access (ZTNA).

ZTNA – also known as software-defined perimeter (SDP) – provides all of the benefits of VPNs while eliminating their security issues. Instead of providing full access to corporate resources, SDP/ZTNA provides access on a case-by-case basis with determinations based on predefined access controls. This ensures that an organization’s remote access solution works with its cybersecurity defenses instead of undermining them.

When integrated into secure access service edge (SASE), ZTNA/SDP also solves the performance problems of VPNs. SASE is a cloud-native security solution that combines SD-WAN network optimization with a full security stack. This enables it to optimally route user requests to cloud-based resources – like corporate collaboration apps – without sacrificing network performance of enterprise cybersecurity.

In the modern business world, the majority of corporate collaboration occurs online. To be productive, companies need security solutions capable of supporting the new ways in which they do business.