How IT Can Protect Security in a World of Remote Work

By Stephanie Hallford, Vice President, Client Computing Group, General Manager, Business Client Platforms, Intel

Intel® vPro® Platform: Built for Business

  • Research shows that 40% of employees will continue working remotely post-pandemic, so businesses need to plan for a security solution for a flexible work environment.

  • Security must be an integral part of the PC platform, not just a software solution.

  • The Intel® Evo™ vPro® platform delivers on performance and security benefits, meeting the needs of IT with a new class of stylish laptops.

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COVID-19 changed our work and our world almost overnight, forcing many IT teams to quickly adjust and support a remote workforce. They were challenged to create a virtual work environment that allowed employees working from home to be productive, while keeping their work secure.

Now, as we enter 2021, IT leaders face a “new normal.” Even after the pandemic ends, Gartner research finds that around 40% of employees are likely to continue working remotely at least some of the time.

It is clear remote work is here to stay. But this brings a new question: can security keep up?

Permanent Remote Work Presents New Security Challenges

The sudden shift to remote work made technology more essential than ever before, especially our PCs, which are not only the go-to tool to get things done, but also our window of collaboration with partners and colleagues globally.

But, first, IT leaders must protect security. In my role with the Business Client Platforms at Intel, a company that offers platform-based PCs for business, I believe this is the only way companies and workers can maintain the full benefits of a more flexible work environment now and in the future.

IT leaders recognize the challenge. 87% of IT pros say the quick transition to remote work increased privacy risk and the need for stronger data protection, and 73% say that keeping devices secure will become an even bigger issue in the coming months. Overall, they rate the risk of cybersecurity breaches as 7.4 on a scale of 1 to 10. Essentially, security challenges are inherent in everything a business does, from employee productivity and team collaboration, to sensitive corporate IP and data.

“87% of IT pros say the quick transition to remote work increased privacy risk and the need for stronger data protection, and 73% say that keeping devices secure will become an even bigger issue in the coming months.”

- Stephanie Hallford, Vice President, Client Computing Group, General Manager, Business Client Platforms, Intel

Three Keys to Security in 2021 and Beyond

There are some themes emerging from my conversations with IT and business leaders, and top security experts. Based on what I’ve heard, I see three keys to security going forward.

Security must be built into the PC platform at the hardware level -- not bolted on. Last year, over half of reported vulnerabilities could not be solved by software alone. As IT teams think about their PC fleet, they must rely on hardware-enhanced security and threat detection capabilities to meet the challenge and stay ahead of potential security issues. This platform approach also increases productivity by helping to reduce the performance impacts of security software, while protecting against prevalent threats. It means employees can get things done, safely, and IT managers can focus on other priorities.

Remote management must be easier and more secure. IT teams are searching for ways to securely manage their networks and PC fleets, even when workers and devices are often or always outside the office. They should look for tools for secure remote management – anywhere, anytime, and on any device, whether it’s in-band, out-of-band, on-premise, or in the cloud.

Security and IT professionals must recognize that security is not a one-time event – it requires investment in innovation. This is the only way to protect against cyber threats that continue to grow, change, and target new areas, like crypto-mining and ransomware. This means IT teams need stable security platforms, so they can implement easier business-wide updates without having to change the entire PC fleet. And it means the security community must work even harder to develop new technologies and stay a step ahead of cyberthreats.

Advancing Security to Enable New, Remote Ways of Working

It is clear that IT teams and security experts are already making solid progress for a more secure remote work experience. Researchers have spent over a decade working on security technologies that can now meet the needs of widespread remote work – all while promoting device compatibility and system choice. New platforms are designed specifically for the needs of businesses and include features like built-in security and secure remote management.

These were valuable before COVID-19. They are now essential for some companies. And with businesses embracing long-term remote work, IT teams face a permanent shift, not a temporary sprint.

Here are a few key things businesses should consider when choosing a security platform:

  • Hardware matters and steps up where software falls short. As vulnerabilities discovered increase and malicious attacks become more sophisticated, it is important to consider the integrity of the hardware, firmware and operating system for the applications businesses use and that the data a business accesses runs on. IT departments can easily implement a comprehensive endpoint security policy that complements the organization’s security strategy by purchasing PCs with built-in hardware-based security and manageability features that help protect hardware, firmware and the operating system.
  • Not all features are created equally – choose wisely. Consider the key aspects of your organization and look at the features available through offerings like the Intel® vPro® platform to find the right fit for your business. For example, if you have a lot of remote workers, features like remote manageability should be at the top of your list.
  • Almost as important as the feature stack itself – the support and security assurance post-purchase is critical. Are you relying on a company with a bug bounty program alone? Look for a platform that will help your IT department at all stages of the purchasing and post-purchasing process, helping with aspects like life-cycle complexities and PC fleet stability. Make sure any platform you’re considering provides what IT needs and what employees working from home want.

We’re committed to making sure remote work is secure work. Because as an industry, we know security is the foundation for strong IT management, dynamic remote work, and business success today and in the post-pandemic world.

A version of this editorial ran on Forbes. For more details about how Intel is partnering across the industry to deliver real-world experiences to our customers, visit here.