Are You Prepared For The Cloud?

The other cloud, that is! 🙂

Iceland has captured the headlines again this week with another volcanic eruption causing chaos for European travelers. This once again shows how important it is that employees can continue to be productive even when stranded in a remote location.

For President Obama, who is spending the week in Europe, this is not an issue, as Air Force One is fully equipped to be a secure mobile office, complete with encrypted communications  which ensure complete availability. But what about you and I? If I were in traveling in Europe today, away from a corporate office, secure communication would be a huge concern, were it not for my certificate-based identity providing secure connection to my network.

With more companies now operating globally, our business environment is borderless. Employees are on the move and many work remotely. This is great for work-life balance but poses a security challenge. Before remote connection technologies were available, security was easily defined – within the office, you are inside the perimeter of the security barrier. With the introduction of technology like virtual private networks (VPN), companies slowly began to let go of the hardened perimeter model and open the network up to remote connections.

Today, mobile workers need to securely interact with the corporate network from anywhere at any time. For security professionals this is a big worry: how do you know who is connecting to the network and what access privileges they should have? Even with a VPN, if a username and password is somehow obtained by an unauthorized user, they could have complete access to your systems.

So, what is the solution?

Put simply, methodologies like username and password do not provide sufficient verification, and businesses need stronger forms of authentication. The use of one time passwords (OTP), for example, can provide an additional level of security by requiring a user to enter a digital code generated by a secure device (even an app on their smartphone) in addition to their username. This additional “factor” of identity gives IT administrators assurance that the person accessing the network is indeed who they claim to be.

There are other advanced forms of authentication that allow for broader business productivity functions. For example, if your company uses certificate-based identity product (i.e. smart cards) then that could also be used to encrypt email or apply a digital signature. With this type of certificate-based identity solutions, employees traveling or accessing the network remotely would be as secure as if they were sitting within your perimeter. This type of technology is standard within the U.S. Department of Defense, which would include the commander-in-chief – Mr. Obama!

Even if your employees are grounded by the cloud, your security doesn’t have to be.

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