How MSSPs Can Support Work From Anywhere

The COVID-19 pandemic drove demand for secure remote access as organizations shifted their operations to support remote work practically overnight. Much of this urgency fell on the shoulders of MSSPs who expedited implementations to support their customers’ operations.

That initial urgency is now, thankfully in the rear-view mirror, so MSSPs can stop and take a moment to reflect. However, in the initial rush to maintain operations, many organizations opted for ad hoc solutions, just to get something up and running. We’re now taking a more measured approach as hybrid work becomes a more permanent part of the landscape. According to Accenture, 83% of workers want a “work from anywhere workplace.” They prefer a hybrid work model that allows them to work remotely between 25% and 75% of the time. Indeed, 63% of high-revenue growth companies have already enabled these workforce models.

Clearly, the shift to remote work is going to persist even after the pandemic, so more organizations are looking into permanent solutions. To meet customer demands and remain competitive, MSSPs should offer services that support work from anywhere (WFA), while providing advanced security as well. In a recent survey, 36% of organizations stated that the growing sophistication of the threat landscape is the top challenge in preventing ransomware attacks. It’s not a surprise that ransomware is top of mind, given the nearly 1100% increase in ransomware between June 2020 and July 2021.

The volume, variety and sophistication of today’s cyber threats routinely bypass traditional prevention-oriented controls. Sophisticated criminal syndicates and state-sponsored threat actors stage multi-step campaigns that exploit security gaps left between individual security products, which results in an unprecedented amount of security information and incidents for security teams to handle amid an industry-wide shortage of cyber security talent. In this complex environment, many organizations look to MSSPs to fill in the gaps.

Provide User and Device Access Regardless of Location

To support WFA, MSSPs should consider working with vendor partners that provide integrated secure remote access and endpoint protection regardless of location. Essentially, they need to be able to support extending the enterprise network, along with consistent network performance to home workers and go beyond just risk prevention to include on-going endpoint detection and response.

Organizations need to maintain a consistent security profile and posture for each user and device while enabling the appropriate degree of access to applications, services and information, no matter where the user or device may be located. Traditional VPNs don’t offer the intelligence and granularity of access required, and typical home network and endpoint security is almost always insufficient and prone to security gaps.

Secure New Network Edges

The traditional hub and spoke network architectures are not efficient and scalable enough to support WFA and multi-cloud access. A traditional LAN and WLAN that has security added on separately can be extremely difficult to troubleshoot and direct internet access using internet/5G lacks security.

Without integrated coverage, trying to gain visibility into network issues with manual operations is difficult or impossible and can ultimately affect the user experience. To help ensure remote users remain productive, MSSPs should offer secure SD-WAN networking solutions that are designed to ensure consistent operational efficiency and that are responsive to issues like latency with granular application access from branch offices and home networks.

Provide Secure Application Access

All of these new network edges are on-ramps to the applications and services users need to do their jobs. These applications may be hosted in a traditional data center or in the cloud. The cloud-delivered applications also may span multiple clouds that have been established by many different parts of the organization. Multiple application and cloud edges often stem from organizations moving applications towards the cloud while maintaining their legacy on-premises applications.

These “accidental multi-clouds” can be complex and prone to misconfiguration. They also often face additional security risks because they are outside of the corporate governance purview. Sometimes these cloud migrations affect performance and the user experience, but efforts to bring applications closer to users and devices at the edge can lead to even more complexity and risks.

Converge Networking and Security

To be competitive, MSSPs should build integrated security and networking solutions to ensure seamless visibility, control, and responsiveness – the essentials for better business outcomes and user experiences. By taking a security-driven networking approach, MSSPs can converge their customers’ networking and security needs and get away from traditional operating silos that are no longer effective. Using a single strategy for maintaining performance and protection across distributed and highly dynamic environments is a much better option. After all, attackers don’t think in silos, and organizations shouldn’t either.

Instead of trying to connect disparate security technologies with complex workarounds, MSSPs should adopt a platform consolidation strategy and a vendor that can provide comprehensive visibility, management, and protection. Gartner calls this a cybersecurity mesh architecture that supports a wide ecosystem of solutions, that can automatically adapt to changes in the network and make it possible to better manage risk with internal segmentation, threat detection, and automated threat protection and policy enforcement.

The platform needs to be broad enough to cover the entire digital attack surface and support WFA with zero-trust network access for users and devices wherever they may be located. It also should secure each network edge all the way out to the constantly changing "accidental multi-clouds."

Turn WFA into a Reality

MSSPs are poised to address the growing adoption of WFA, to do so, they need to go beyond ad hoc remote access solutions and offer a cybersecurity mesh with broader array of integrated solutions that span networking, security and compute. By providing truly integrated solutions, MSSPs can add value by applying their expertise, customer knowledge and architectural capabilities to solve remote working and other digital transformation challenges.

Author Jonathan Nguyen is VP of field CISO at Fortinet. Read more Fortinet blogs hereRegularly contributed guest blogs are part of MSSP Alert’s sponsorship program.