IT Leaders Improve Security by Moving from Remote-Lite to Remote-Right Strategies

By Maribel Lopez  | Commissioned by Intel

Nearly overnight, distributed work became a reality for most organizations. Today, over 85 percent of the companies Lopez Research surveyed in its 2020 Enterprise IT benchmark selected yes when asked if their companies will continue to offer distributed and remote work options in 2021. At this time, many IT leaders are reevaluating programs that were hastily put into place to support remote work during the pandemic.

Lopez Research refers to this trend as the move from remote-lite (enable remote work quickly) to remote-right strategies (creating best-in-class work from anywhere). A remote-right approach supports new ways of working, such as increased collaboration and the adoption of cloud-resident applications and services. Successful remote work strategies require IT to deliver consistent management, end-user support and comprehensive security regardless of the employee's location. The best remote-right action plans will combine process and technology changes.

Turning security from a business obstacle to an enabler.
It's no surprise that securing the business is near the top of the list of IT concerns in remote work. Security challenges escalated as employees accessed corporate resources using any available device. Many of these devices were older PCs that lacked built-in security. It was also difficult for IT to maintain machines and perform software updates remotely.

According to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations report, social engineering attacks, including phishing, are linked to about 22 percent of data breach cases. Also, the vast majority of these attacks happen via email (96 percent). While security leaders struggled to shrink their company's attack surface, the potential for breaches increased as employees without proper cybersecurity training fell for phishing attacks. Additionally, Lopez Research surveys discovered that a lack of PCs in households meant that multiple household members were using the same PC, which increased the risk of infection from various social engineering attacks. In 2021, it's clear that cybersecurity employee training should be part of a remote-right strategy.

PCs provide a critical element in enabling best-in-class remote security
A remote-right strategy requires organizations to reimagine security for a workplace world that's inherently distributed. Mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, were the first solutions to create a distributed, malleable security perimeter for IT. A widespread shift to remote work eliminated the security perimeter concept, forcing IT to manage and secure corporate data in new ways.

In the past, the silicon-level security in a PC was an overlooked and underappreciated part of a company's security strategy. Today, IT and security operations leaders are reassessing how PC performance, resiliency and usability improvements will impact security strategies. Even if a company purchased new hardware in 2020, it's reevaluating if those devices have the right configurations and security to support various roles within their firm.

Companies relied heavily on VPNs for secure connectivity in the remote-lite security practices of 2020. Going forward, IT and security leaders need multiple layers of proactive protection that span from the device through to the application layer. Companies recognize VPNs are only part of the security solution. For example, a company is open to attack if a compromised machine accesses the network using a VPN.

Malicious actors are continually searching for new attack vectors at lower levels of the computing stack. A computing platform must offer protection below the operating system layer to identify and prevent system boot security issues. For example, if the BIOS gets compromised, the whole system is compromised. Embedding security and manageability at the silicon levels minimizes or eliminates entire classes of security threats. Additionally, companies should look for PCs that provide features such as full disk encryption, remote secure erase, virtualization and multi-factor authentication.

Remote-right requires remote support
Remote management is the new norm for remote-right strategies. IT needs a seamless and consistent way to perform software and firmware updates across its device fleet. Best-in-class remote device management gives IT the tools to remotely monitor performance, diagnose problems, and reset devices if necessary. IT should look for computing solutions that offer remote wake and patch, system recovery, and reimaging to support these requirements. Modern manageability helps IT simplify software updates, keep security patches up to date and reduce the time it takes to repair a PC after a security incident.

The technology exists to deliver remote-right strategies today
Companies are moving beyond crisis mode to supporting a digitally connected business. Leading companies are improving their employee experience by matching users with devices best suited for their needs.

IT leaders designing remote-right user experiences recognize the need to deliver security without getting in the way of employee productivity. Developing a rock rock-solid security foundation requires silicon-level protection to detect and neutralize threats at the most fundamental computing layers. The latest security-focused PCs with built-in protection, easier management and improved employee usability provide the foundation of a remote-right security strategy.

Intel® Hardware Shield, available exclusively on all Intel vPro® platform-based devices, delivers integrated hardware-based PC protection for more secure business productivity including: 

• Below-the-OS-security
• Application and data security
• Advanced threat detection

About Maribel Lopez
Industry analyst, author, technology influencer

Maribel is the founder of Lopez Research, a market research and strategy consulting firm. She’s also the co-founder of the Emerging Technology Research Council, a community of business and technical leaders in Fortune 1000 companies focused on driving innovation and business value by leveraging emerging technologies.  Maribel is the author of the John Wiley and Sons book Right-Time Experiences: Driving Revenue with Mobile and Big Data and a contributor to Forbes.

Prior to founding Lopez Research, Maribel gained her expertise by working at Motorola, International Data Corp., Shiva Corporation, and Forrester Research.

Notices & Disclaimers
Intel® technologies may require enabled hardware, software, or service activation.
No product or component can be absolutely secure.
Intel does not control or audit third-party data. You should consult other sources to evaluate accuracy.
Your costs and results may vary.
© Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.