Zero Trust for Hybrid Work – UAE’s New Guidelines

The UAE announcing the introduction of the four-and-a-half-day work-week, with the motive to enable a better work-life balance to its business environment. As per the new guidelines, Fridays will be a half-day at work while Saturday and Sunday would be considered the weekend. With this move, the Government aims to make the business ecosystem friendlier to the employees, which has shown to have a significant effect on business growth in previous tests.

While this move is welcomed by the professionals in the country, it begs the question – Are we soon going to adopt a hybrid mode of working? If so, how would businesses securely access their business applications from anywhere, at any time?

During the global work-from-home phase when the pandemic was at its peak, governments and large businesses saw massive business disruptions due to cyber-crimes. To understand the scale in cyber-attacks, the frequency of such attacks on state and local governments across the world had risen by over 50% in 2020 as compared to previous years. And that’s not all. The extreme of such attacks have been in industries that produce our basic necessities- foodwater and power.  

Why are businesses under more risk today? ​

Why are businesses under more risk today? ​

Because the pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of digital transformation. When push came to shove, businesses went through the pain, but then derived the benefits of having a hybrid mode of working. Providing secure access to the business infrastructure from anywhere without the worry of compromised data went from “nice to have” to “want”. Cyber criminals understand this, and it is only a matter of time before they show interest in taking on your industry.

How does an organization become a victim to a cyberattack? It is most commonly introducing using web and phishing-based malware or through vulnerabilities in an organization’s network, firewalls, or VPNs. Yes, the VPNs that your organization onboarded when the pandemic, they were never the solution. When an attack occurs, IT teams focus their immediate attention on getting their networks up and running and determining how the attack was successful. Besides the time and money lost during the attack, the cost of losing confidential information and the time to get your systems back up can be substantial. Let’s not forget, you can also be fined by the government for losing confidential information like hospital records or customer information.


Zero Trust and Organizations - Where to Start

A new approach, based on the Zero Trust security approach (“never trust – always verify”), is needed. Zero Trust is a broad security construct with recommendations on controls across several areas in your IT infrastructure.

Cyber criminals primarily penetrate networks through compromised endpoints via an interaction with the open internet – an infected website, a download from the web, or an email link or attachment. Not all staff members are aware of links that they shouldn’t click. Legacy security systems are not updated fast enough to match the sophistication of the malware or the rapid pace at which new variants are released.

Another major vulnerability that businesses will see is the use of personal devices for remote work. These personal devices are not monitored by the IT teams and as such, can contain malware that passes over to the in-office network once they connect through the VPN. From there, it is only a matter of time before the malware moves to more business-critical resources like databases, servers or applications.


How does Zero Trust Network Access work to mitigate these risks?

Accops Zero Trust Network Access model
Accops Zero Trust Network Access model
  • By implicitly not trusting any website to be free of malware, Zero Trust policies make sure to create an effective “air-gap” between the devices and web-based threats like ransomware.
  • When users connect to the business network, all device information is captured and monitored before providing access to the in-office systems. This capability of device isolation vastly reduces the damage that ransomware can cause by making apps and data invisible to any unauthenticated program or device trying to discover and access network-connected resources.
  • With the microsegmentation of resources to the users in real-time, the impacts of ransomware – whether introduced within the office from a compromised device, or remotely through a crack in the network’s armor (such as a VPN vulnerability) — can be dramatically reduced.

Secure access to your business networks is business critical, with the UAE’s move to a more sustainable work-life for businesses. However, this does not mean that IT teams need to be worked to the bone to ensure secure remote access. Taking your corporate workplace online is easier and extremely cost-effective with advanced technologies like Accops HyWorks.

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