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Mobile, Agile, and In Need of Security

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IT’s Dilemma: Access vs. Security

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Is the era of the desk job behind us? Unquestionably, if you define a desk job as one that requires you to stay at your desk. IDC predicts that over the next five years, the number of mobile workers in the U.S. will grow from 96.2 million to 105.4 million, making them nearly three-quarters of the entire U.S. workforce.

The growth of the mobile workforce will only continue to accelerate with the ongoing migration to cloud-based applications and services. After all, there's no reason to tie users to their desks when they can access the tools and data they need to do their jobs from wherever they happen to be. However, as applications and users continue to move outside the physical boundaries of the enterprise, organizations face an urgent challenge: How do they take advantage of greater mobility and the agility it supports without risking the security of sensitive data and business-critical applications?

A highly mobile workforce may be a boon for business, but it's an ongoing burden for IT. It requires companies to keep a constant eye on onboarding, permissions, and network traffic. Each employee with access to the corporate network must be authenticated on each device they use, limited to only the enterprise IT resources they're authorized to use, and managed to minimize their risk of exposing the network to intrusion.

The swelling "gig economy" adds another layer of complexity. More than half of the global executives surveyed for Deloitte's 2016 Global Human Capital Trends study said their organizations plan to use contractors more often in the next three to five years. Recent surveys by Intuit Software and the Freelancers' Union project that by 2020, contractors, consultants, temporary workers, and external partners will make up at least 40% and possibly as much as 50% of the U.S. workforce.

That's great news for organizations that want to be able to shift their staffing on the fly to adapt to changing market demands. From IT's perspective, though, it means a constant stream of third parties who need to be granted access to specific applications and data, often using their own devices that IT can neither vet nor manage, and then have their authorization reliably revoked again after a limited period of time.

Finally, people have grown used to seamless, lightning-fast access on any device, anywhere, to user-friendly applications. If a business application isn't as fast, easy, and intuitive to use as Google or Facebook, employees and contractors alike will complain.

IT is under pressure to deliver consumer-level performance in the workplace, but authenticating every user on every device within the network security perimeter while establishing secure connections to applications and data in the cloud can slam the brakes on network performance. On the other hand, compromising security for the sake of usability, agility, and mobility is not an option.

What today's enterprise needs is a new approach to access infrastructure that gives users secure, convenient access to enterprise applications, regardless of whether the user or the application is within the firewall or outside in the cloud.

Here are some key attributes to look for when re-evaluating your remote access strategy:

  • Ease of management for IT: Administrators need to provide secure access to applications in any environment; provision and de-provision users and add multi-factor authentication with a single click.
  • Third-party access: Third parties should be able to access behind-the-firewall applications from a browser on any device—laptop, tablet, or mobile phone—without a VPN. But with limits.
  • Authorized access: That third-party access needs to be limited to only the applications they are authorized and authenticated to use.

To learn more, visit Akamai

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