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Keeping the Remote Workforce Up, Running, Connected and Secure

By Jay Kelley, Principal Product Marketing Manager, F5 Networks

With the lives of so many workers being turned upside down from increased remote working and school closures, one of the big questions for businesses is how to stay productive and safe from bad actors at the same time. This can be a challenge if old business continuity plans (BCP) haven’t kept pace with available technologies. 

Unfortunately, attackers are now leveraging fear and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus spread to try to extract money and critical information from organisations and individuals. As a case in point, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of attackers posing as WHO representatives phishing for donations or corporate information and user credentials. The tactic often includes malware-riddled attachments and links urgently imploring the user open the file or click the link.

Some teams use virtual private networks (VPN) to help stay securely connected to their corporate network and applications. Other teammates may use corporate applications that are deployed to public clouds or that are SaaS-based. It is now a major challenge for businesses to ensure everyone is connected, productive and – crucially – able to access vital applications which, today, can be located in any location and across a multitude of devices.

Regaining control

Fortunately, there is plenty of tech to help organisations adapt.  Access management solutions are particularly valuable in this respect.

For example, a solution like BIG-IP APM can protect user access from all locations and devices, as well as enable the form of secure application access that organisation and their users require.

The benefits of a robust access management solution include:

  • For organisations requiring remote access to their network, and all of its resources for their users working from home or remotely during this outbreak, BIG-IP APM enables secure remote access to corporate resources from any network, and from any device via its SSL VPN capabilities. Importantly, BIG-IP APM ensures secure, fast network and application access for remote users, while protecting corporate network resources, applications, and sensitive data from malware, theft or hack, and rogue or unauthorised access, leveraging context-aware policies.
  • BIG-IP APM’s web access management (WAM) capabilities ensures users have secure access to web-based applications from anywhere. Every time. BIG-IP APM proxies your organisation’s web applications, enabling centralised authentication and authorisation, as well as supporting single sign-on (SSO) and federation. Furthermore, BIG-IP APM can ensure that a user’s device adheres to your organisation’s approved security posture before allowing access to your network for SSL VPN, or your web-based apps. All web access management capabilities are simple to setup, providing a seamless, simple user experience.
  • Today, your applications can reside anywhere, including in the public cloud as native cloud apps or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), in a private cloud, or on-premises or in a data centre. That alone complicates application access. It also increases your attack surface, leaving your apps at risk of human error, credential theft and attack, and account takeover.
  • For organisations adopting a “Zero Trust” architecture, BIG-IP APM’s Identity Aware Proxy is able to deliver seamless, secure application access that leverages a trusted identity source. This includes Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS), which enforces modern authentication – such as identity federation and SSO. It also enables support for multi-factor authentication – to all applications, even those that do not natively support modern authentication. Crucially, everything is underpinned by context- and identity-aware policies to ensure that only the right users are able to access the right apps at the right time.

Using APM’s webtop, users are also able to access any approved application from a single web page based on authorisation and authentication, regardless of location. Context-aware policies are available if a user’s location requires additional, step-up authentication, or if certain applications are location-sensitive. Ultimately, BIG-IP APM offers a simple, secure, and enhanced experience that helps limit support calls and headaches.

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