Protecting IT through the Coronavirus Outbreak

As of this writing, we are about three months into the COVID-19 epidemic. You’ve been working from home for at least a quarter. Some of your workers, depending on where you live, may even be filtering back into the office. If you’ve lasted this long without a data breach, well done.

Given that the situation is temporarily stable, now is the time to switch your planning from the short-term to the long term. Although many states have begun reopening, the widespread consensus is that there’s no going back to normal. Your office may be open to only 15-25% of workers at a time, and according to Gartner, 74% of companies will be shifting employees to remote work on a permanent basis.

There are Going to Need to be Some Changes

Dealing with a massive increase in remote working will require new ways of extending security to your users.

First, there’s secure connectivity to think of. At the beginning of the pandemic, you may have relied on existing secure connections such as VPN—but many companies have found that VPN doesn’t scale fast enough to provide useful bandwidth to all users.

In response, companies are adopting alternative technologies such as SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network.) This service allows users to bundle enterprise-grade VPN and MPLS with consumer-grade fiber and broadband and even cellular modems. AT&T’s SD-WAN service absorbed a 700% increase in March.

The allure of services such as SD-WAN is that you can prioritize different kinds of traffic. The highest-priority traffic will always traverse the lowest-latency connection, allowing for a cloud-based private network that can scale to accommodate many users without any slowdowns.

In addition to SD-WAN, we may see more increased use of small, distributed data centers as opposed to massive, centralized behemoths. If your employees all work out of the same office park, it makes sense to put a data center there. If your employees all work in separate towns and cities, it may make more sense to colocate your data center infrastructure in multiple small facilities which are closer to where your employees are clustered.

Securing Remote Infrastructure and Connectivity

Implementing SD-WAN alongside more numerous colocation facilities may solve your connectivity bottlenecks during and beyond COVID-19, but they also have the potential to impact your security—and not necessarily in a positive direction.

Already, the devices you’re taking care of are a lot more spread out than they were. Instead of walking to a user’s desk to re-image their desktop, you need to diagnose and solve many issues remotely. If you pursue a colocation strategy, even your data center won’t be in a centralized environment. You will need to step up your use of remote management tools.

Additionally, remote connectivity in the form of SD-WAN may be more convenient than VPN, but it’s not inherently more secure. SD-WAN should be used in conjunction with IPsec encryption, strong ID and access management, and security perimeters. If you haven’t used SD-WAN before, you may find yourself unprepared to extend your traditional security tools to a new method of connectivity.

In addition, SD-WAN can be delivered through an appliance like a router or directly through the cloud. If your company chooses to go the appliance route, you now have to manage a whole new category of devices—ensuring that they’re turned on, patched, and configured—all without the ability to visit your co-workers in person.

Simplify Remote Management at Scale with Device42

To summarize, large-scale remote work requires two different elements of security:

  1. Configuring remote networks and integrating pre-existing security tools
  2. Securing and configuring remote data centers

Here at Device42, our cloud-based data center infrastructure management (DCIM) tool can help with both critical aspects of security in the immediate post-lockdown era.

Our remote management tools help you catalogue and configure any device attached to your network, including SD-WAN appliances. This helps you ensure that your extended network is healthy and secure. The same principle applies to colocation data centers, where you have complete visibility into your racks, cooling, power supplies, and more–plus a detailed picture of your storage, including virtualized and containerized environments. Meanwhile, Device42’s maps of application dependencies help you understand how to deploy your existing security tools in order to match the reach of your expanded and decentralized network.

It’s easier than ever to get started with Device42 thanks to the 30-day free trial we offer for both cloud and hosted versions. We’ve already started reckoning with the long-term effects of working from home–so get started with Device42 today!

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