• United States



Truly unified security includes distributed and remote operations

BrandPost By Ryan Poutre
Jan 17, 20233 mins

istock 1400359666 2
Credit: iStock

The concept of the network perimeter has expanded dramatically in recent years. Today, many organizations operate in a distributed model, with branch offices and endpoints deployed outside of a physical office. But anything connecting to the corporate network is a potential vector for attackers, who can make their way into the network core (and potentially gain access to an organization’s “crown jewels”) by first compromising a branch office or an endpoint. As a result, truly unified security must be comprehensive, with equally robust protection for all devices and endpoints no matter where they are, along with centralized management and visibility.

Unfortunately, some organizations find protecting their distributed or remote environments challenging. For healthcare, education, retail, and financial services organizations, the scale and, in some cases, the geography of their distributed operations compounds their security problem. Put simply, it can take a lot of skilled cybersecurity professionals and money – both of which are in short supply – to ensure that every distributed or remote operation is fully protected. Not every organization has the resources or the time to send a network administrator to every location.

That can put them at risk from hackers who try to sniff out unsecured Wi-Fi access points by literally driving around and scanning (wardriving) for unprotected networks or even sending packages with hidden sensors (warshipping) to map networks and look for vulnerabilities. For instance, the TJX data breach – at the time one of the largest in history – began with wardriving attackers gaining access to the Wi-Fi networks of two of the retail conglomerate’s Marshalls stores in Miami. Or attackers may try to trick an employee at a branch office into clicking on a link in a phishing email to steal their credentials and gain access to central network resources that way.

Scenarios like these are why centralized, cloud-enabled security has become so important. Today, tabletop appliances can provide the same level of protection to branch offices as those protecting the central network. And centrally managed, secure Wi-Fi can reduce the likelihood of configuration errors or unpatched vulnerabilities leading to the TJX breach and others. Rather than sending a technician, organizations (or their MSPs) can send pre-configured devices to remote locations where they can be easily set up by just about any employee; simply plug the devices in and connect them to the internet. Device updates and policy changes can be managed remotely by network administrators who never have to leave their offices.

In addition, this kind of unified security platform model provides greater visibility across the entire organization. With centralized monitoring, threat hunting, and extended detection and response (XDR) for endpoints, organizations have a better, more comprehensive view of what’s happening across the wider network, increasing their odds of getting an early warning of potential attacks and increasing their ability to respond quickly before a breach at the edge progresses to the core of the network.

Ultimately, an organization’s security is only as good as its weakest link. If branch offices or remote devices are vulnerable, it doesn’t matter how good the defenses are at the network’s core. Once attackers have gotten past the outer walls, their chances of getting deeper into the castle increase dramatically. Fortunately, cloud-enabled, centrally managed security platforms make it possible to give every location the protection that’s necessary to keep up with today’s security threats.

Learn more about how to secure distributed and remote environments.