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Simple, secure tools to help protect your hybrid workplace

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Kelli Glass
Community Manager

SecureX-image.pngWhen we said the word “hybrid” in the past, it usually recalled the image of a new variety of plant or maybe an electric car. These days, it applies to the workplace too.  

The future of work isn’t “changing” to a hybrid model. It’s already changed.   

Forever. 

Hybrid-work environments are evolving so quickly that Cybersecurity is more critical than ever. But there’s more to it than just safeguarding data and access control. Simplicity is also a key for security teams and end users alike—because when it’s hard to use, it doesn’t get used at all. 

Cisco remains committed to delivering simple, secure tools and systems to ensure customer security in this ever-evolving workplace.  

The Three Keys to Successful Security Strategy 

Effective security strategy really comes down to three pillars: product selection, integration management, and access control.  

  1. Product Selection - Ideally, security products should interface with the critical security control points of users, devices, networks, apps, and data.   
  2. Integration Management - Once that portfolio control points are matched with the correct security products, the backend should be integrated with proper threat intelligence. For example, our own market leading Talos solution is a great place to start. In this way, products can talk to each other and can see and respond to the threats faster. Similarly, on the frontend, SecureX is another solid choice to provide a unified experience that delivers simplicity, visibility and efficiency.  
  3. Access Control - Enforcing access control and security policies both before the user logs in to an application and after the login, is also best practice.  It’s worth investigating Cisco’s zero-trust architecture as a means to reimagine this essential task. 

A three-prong approach like this, ensures the best, most secure environments. Reach out to our security strategy experts in Customer Connection if you’d like to learn more. 

Security Partnership Fundamentals: Trust 

Trust comes from showing up when it really counts. That’s why we extended free security products like Cisco Umbrella, Duo Security, and Cisco AnyConnect to our customers and partners at the onset of the pandemic. This helped them keep their businesses up and running as they transitioned to remote work. We know this is important and strive to find more and more ways to do things like this.  

Security Partnership Fundamentals: Simplicity 

Complexity is still customers' number-one challenge when it comes to securing their enterprises. Focusing on building technology that lessens the burden on often understaffed and overworked security teams can be beneficial. 

From our standpoint, a real-life example of how simplicity can impact these overworked security teams is the 2020 launch of Cisco SecureX. It is a cloud native platform that connects our integrated security portfolio and customers’ security infrastructure in order to provide a simple and consistent experience across users, devices, network, applications & data. 

We heard from our customers and partners that SecureX proved to be transformative for the industry, especially during the 2020 global pandemic. With businesses operating in a dynamic environment and at a once unthinkable pace, there was a massive need for simplification and automation, which are the tenants that platform was built on. SecureX was instrumental to security and IT professionals during this trying time and continues to be moving forward.  

The future of work is hybrid and even after the pandemic is over, employees will continue working from home some of the time. For most organizations, securing their remote workers is their top concern.  

When we interviewed customers for our Future of Secure Remote Work report, we learned that a lack of employee awareness, a lack of education, and a bloat of security tools were the top challenges customers faced. Ultimately, both issues go back to the need for security to be more approachable for the people who use it and the people who manage it. 

Simplicity: Passwordless Plays a Part 

This drives home the need to see security from an end user perspective. Employees are often not being willfully careless, but the technology is too complicated and/or does not fit seamlessly into how they work. A good example of this would be passwords.  

Over time, we create hundreds of them, which are hard to remember and can be easily compromised. At Cisco Live in March, we announced Passwordless by Duo, which is a method of authentication that does not rely on passwords but instead uses biometrics like TouchIDFaceID, security keys or specialized mobile apps like Duo to verify identity. This provides employees with a frictionless login experience and stronger security. 

With Passwordless authentication, we are moving toward a future where everyone will be far less dependent on passwords, but it should be viewed as a journey not something that can be enabled overnight. There are still legacy tools using older technologies, which can only be solved through infrastructure upgrades and that can be a years-long process.  

That said, the consumerization of biometrics through TouchID and FaceID are making a Passwordless future much more of a reality. According to the 2020 Duo Trusted Access Report, 80 percent of mobile devices used for work have biometrics configured, up 12% the past five years. 

Bringing It All Together With Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) 

As the hybrid work environment has expanded the attack surface and added complexity across IT, security, and networking teams, the three-prong strategy (mentioned above) to overcome this can be expressed in a single product. This is where SASE comes in and our vision for it is to deliver seamless, secure access to any application, over any network or cloud, anywhere users work. We do this by combining our best-in-class networking, client connectivity, security, and observability capabilities into a single subscription service. It will be straightforward to procure, easy to set up, and simple to use — all brought together through a single cloud dashboard. 

Where Do We Go from Here? 

We continue to stay focused on our security strategy of providing our customers with great products, smooth integration, and solid access control. We are confident this approach gives them the tools they need, when they need them, and that those tools will be easy to use. Staying true to this north star upholds our promise to be the trusted partner our customers need during dynamic times. 

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