UPDATED 21:07 EDT / JULY 09 2021

SECURITY

Fortinet exec offers key takeaways for managing hybrid workplace threats and modernizing government security

As businesses emerge from the global pandemic, when major sections of the workforce were forced to leave the office and work from home, it has become more apparent that not everyone is coming back.

Enterprises are now grappling with a hybrid model, one where a percentage of employees may return to the workplace while others stay at home and contribute remotely. This places greater emphasis on securing networks since the threat surface will continue to be large outside the corporate walls.

“When we talk about hybrid, what we go back to is not going to be the office that we left,” said Jim Richberg (pictured), public sector chief field information security officer and vice president of information security at Fortinet Inc. “The nature of the work that we’ve been doing has changed. I tell organizations that they really need to think about what that means in terms of how they structure their networks. It’s going to be work from anywhere.”

Richberg spoke with Lisa Martin, host of SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming video studio theCUBE. They discussed the value of zero trust and ways that both the public and private sectors can strengthen cybersecurity. (* Disclosure below.)

Embracing zero trust

One option for organizations to deal with this new workplace reality is by implementing zero-trust network access, or ZTNA. Fortinet defines this as automatic secure remote access that verifies who and what are on the network regardless of where users are located.

The concept of zero trust has been misunderstood, according to Richberg, viewed by some as employee surveillance or suspicion of malicious intent.

“This is technology that’s your safety net; it’s not Big Brother,” Richberg said. “We call things an insider threat, recognizing that far more damage in an organization happens from people making mistakes. It’s insider risk that we need to manage. They’re human, they make mistakes and you can help them avoid some of those through technology. Zero trust gets to that.”

In May, President Biden signed an executive order to improve the nation’s cybersecurity. Richberg believes that a good place to start would be by implementing a series of security practices within the federal government that can apply to the private sector as well.

In addition to zero trust, these include accelerating migration to the cloud, adding multifactor authentication, encrypting data at rest or in transit, and deploying endpoint detection and response.

“Those are things in the executive order that, if agencies could focus on them, you will have appreciably increased security without even touching the harder things,” Richberg said. “There’s good news to come out of that.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s CUBE Conversations. (* Disclosure: Fortinet Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither Fortinet nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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