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Security boundaries change with the Australian modern workplace

Murray Mills from Tecala Group weighs in on how organisations can manage the evolving IT environment.

user iconMurray Mills
Mon, 09 Aug 2021
Murray Mills
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Australia, like the rest of the world, is rapidly redefining the workplace. As we move deeper into 2021, a return to daily commutes and multi-story offices seems farther away than ever, and what we once knew as 'work' has changed, seemingly forever.

The latest government figures show that two-thirds of Australians now work from home sometimes or always, compared with 42 per cent two years ago.

These changes look permanent. A new World Economic Forum-Ipsos poll found 54 per cent of Australians want to be working from home at least three days a week, and 45 per cent of Australians don't think work will ever go back to the way it was, when everyone attended an office five days a week.


Australian businesses are now starting to factor this into the way they operate. Already we are seeing a range of corporate responses to changing attitudes to the work-week structure. Atlassian, for example, suggests employees only come to an office four times a year. Deloitte Australia has gone fully flexible with "no one size fits all working week anymore and no requirement to be 'in the office' for any set amount of time".

To enable these new working models requires a profound change in the way we – as IT and security enable teams to work productively and securely from anywhere and anytime.

Managing the 'new world' user experience

Traditionally, central office locations would be secured and hardened based on business requirements to allow all computer assets and staff to work. These locations define what we would consider the network's security perimeter, with remote VPN access being offered to a select few.

Over the past two years, businesses have been forced to expand their protected environments to allow staff to take their computers home and connect to the corporate network over their home internet connections.

Under this model, the business's secure network perimeter is intact but much more stretched. With much more staff than usual working from home and at times temporary or stopgap measures to enable that shift, attackers were quick to target the distributed workforce and probe for weaknesses.

With a permanently distributed and decentralised workforce now a reality, the often thought about but usually less critical initiatives of enabling Modern Management must be considered as part of offering business as usual services with security taking centre stage.

The rise of Modern Management

This is leading to the broad adoption of a new strategic approach called Modern Management.

Indeed, Modern Management is fast becoming an umbrella term for a collection of strategies, services and software that is designed to help businesses to deploy and manage assets in the 'new world'.

It can be used to protect employees and the devices and systems they are logged into, regardless of what they are doing, where they are doing it from, and what they're working on.

Modern Management ensures that all people and devices requesting authorisation to connect to a business' network or applications meet appropriate security standards before they can log in, and then that they can only access resources that are appropriate to their level and associated permissions.

A strategy roadmap

With the new distributed work-from-home environment becoming the new normal, it's time to put a solid plan in place to accelerate your evolution towards a dynamic distributed working environment that encompasses offices, employees' homes and everywhere in-between.

Businesses looking to chart a course in this space should first review the steps they've already taken to enable new ways of work over the past year. Through a trusted IT partner, they should determine their vision for the future and then write a clear strategic roadmap of the steps and solutions needed to enable a dynamic distributed workplace.

Murray Mills is the manager of cyber security at Tecala Group.

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