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Blog · 10 Feb 2021

How do you really secure the ‘branch at home’?

The average home network has none of the assurances that come from a fully managed and controlled corporate office.

Cross Portfolio Marketing, Nokia Cloud and Network Services

Thousands of homes have now become branch offices for even the most tightly regulated businesses.

Whether speaking to colleagues, retail workers, banks, or government employees…we’ve all had conversations recently with professional people that we know are working from their home office – maybe even from the kitchen table.

As a customer, these calls can often feel a bit more relaxed and personal. There’s no office noise in the background, and you feel you have the call handler’s full attention.

But, at the same time, you may feel nervous that your personal data is being accessed from someone’s home; can you trust that only authorised staff can see it? What about regulatory issues – how are they managed? And what about security threats in this new environment?

Big names… big issues

Certainly, no company is immune from the issue of security: not even the biggest in the business.

But despite companies affected by cyber breaches being naturally cautious to attribute the origin of such attacks, the risk in homeworking is definitely a major factor – if not the clear cause. Microsoft stated that coronavirus themed attacks have escalated to between 20,000 to 30,000 every day, just in the US, while INTERPOL reported in August that “With organizations and businesses rapidly deploying remote systems and networks to support staff working from home, criminals are also taking advantage of increased security vulnerabilities to steal data, generate profits and cause disruption.”

Reaching the edge of your knowledge

It all boils down to the fact that the average home network has none of the assurances that come from a fully managed and controlled corporate office.

Each ‘branch at home’ will use a different ISP, for one thing. Performance of each of those networks is not guaranteed (“Sorry, you just froze there.” – how many times have you heard or said that recently?). There’s no clarity over or assurance of the security protocols in place for data that you’re holding, accessing and sending out through the cloud. And delivering confidential or sensitive data securely to these workers is sure to cause even the most seasoned, remote-working-savvy CIO to break out in a sweat.

As thousands of office-based staff have shifted to working at home, businesses have essentially lost insight into what’s happening at the network edge. Where there’s no insight, there’s no control. And a lack of control puts businesses in the dark and at real risk. At risk of poor network and app performance, hampered business productivity, and the risk of exposing the entire corporate network and its data.

Thinking beyond the VPN

Of course, the traditional way to provide secure connectivity for remote workers has been to use remote-access VPN client software on their devices. And that has served us well in the past. But until 2020, the percentage of home workers was a fraction of the overall enterprise workforce. With 82% of companies planning to allow employees to work remotely some of the time – and nearly half (47%) saying they intend to allow staff to work remotely full time[1] – this approach can be hugely expensive.

So, it’s reassuring to know that there are solutions designed to tackle this problem head on.

Agile Connect SD-WAN is purpose-built to take enterprises with thousands of branches – whether actual branches, or ‘branches at home’ – and create consistent performance, visibility and security across them all, globally. It’s ideal for businesses with homeworkers, because it extends centralised policy and security controls under a BT managed infrastructure for corporate branches to the home office.

It’s delivered by BT, using dedicated SD-WAN technology developed by Nuage Networks from Nokia. And typically, we can save an organisation around 40% in WAN costs.

So, for those CIOs that are keen to get their branches-at-home productive and secure while protecting their budgets and just sleeping a little more soundly at night…it’s a great option.

To learn more about BT’s SD-WAN solution with Nuage Networks from Nokia, and to explore how SD-WAN could transform your network of branches – whatever kind of branches they may be – get in touch.

 

[1] Gartner Survey, July 2020https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-03-gartner-cfo-surey-reveals-74-percent-of-organizations-to-shift-some-employees-to-remote-work-permanently

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