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11 Ways to Ensure Network Visibility and Security for Work-From-Home Users

Heidi Gabrielson
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According to Gartner, 43% of U.S. workers spend some of their time working remotely and there’s a high proportion of work being done outside the traditional corporate office in Finland, Japan, Netherlands, and Sweden. However, nothing has prepared enterprise IT for the surge of work-from-home (WFH) users that has occurred as a result of ‘shelter in place’ mandates associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This rapid workplace shift is increasing pressure on existing IT systems (many of which were not fully prepared to handle this scenario at scale) while economic uncertainty is driving increased focus on cost containment across every industry. Ensuring remote workers remain productive and the data they share secure are two significant ways IT can contribute.

Network visibility for work-from-home users

Typically organizations have 59% more east-west traffic than north-south (Gigamon) and the expanded WFH policies are essentially driving that entire LAN traffic base over to VPN. During this transition, having accurate visibility into this new traffic profile is critical. Riverbed provides visibility into exactly what’s happening across your hybrid network.

  1. Application Intelligence automatically identifies over 2,000 applications on the network, allowing IT to prioritize business-critical and collaboration applications, and de-prioritize others. For example, most networks prioritize the burgeoning VoIP, WebEx and Zoom traffic. You can ensure they remain in a prioritized QoS category and troubleshoot outliers.
  2. Resolve remote access and VPN issues. This is a big one. A lot of NetOps teams are worried about how they’re going to support a huge increase in the number of people that connect to the enterprise via VPN. Two of the questions they look for Riverbed to answer are: “Does our VPN setup have the capacity to handle the additional work-from-home triggered workload?” and “How well is our VPN setup holding up under this additional load?” Riverbed AppResponse provides this visibility and more. Know what level of performance your remote users are actually experiencing.
  3. Measure real user experience of web applications and easily troubleshoot performance problems for remote workers.
  4. Another form of user experience is synthetic testing. Use synthetic testing to monitor network, infrastructure, or application performance 24 x 7. Create test scenarios to monitor essential applications like Microsoft Exchange, database transactions.

    Riverbed can distinguish business apps from recreation. Here we see BitTorrent is hogging the bandwidth.

    Riverbed can distinguish between business and recreational applications

  5. Re-plan for capacity changes, identify critical traffic, and optimize bandwidth usage for new traffic flows.
  6. If you use SteelHead WAN optimization, gain a centralized view into application performance, bandwidth reduction, QoS categories, responsiveness, and more.

Network security is a top concern with a distributed workforce

Unfortunately, as the employee base moves to work-from-home and other remote locations, cyber bad guys will try to take advantage of any lapses in security that are created by this shift. Now more than ever, your organization needs to be prepared. Riverbed helps with threat detection and mitigation on all network traffic. Riverbed’s NetProfiler Advanced Security Module helps detect and respond to threats by monitoring flow data from across your hybrid enterprise.

  1. Know when workers communicate with blacklisted systems, such as known malware download sites or command & control sites, so you can investigate and mitigate before additional systems in the network are infected.
  2. DDoS detection quickly identifies a broad range of DDoS attacks so you can make informed mitigation decisions to end interruptions to business sooner. The VPN has become a target for DDoS attacks and phishing for VPN account credentials – don’t let it become your weak link.
Example of an exfiltration alert in NetProfiler Advanced Security Module.

Exfiltration alert in NetProfiler Advanced Security Module

  1. Network security analytics baselines traffic and automatically identifies threats that generate unusual patterns, such as unexpected new services, hosts, or connections. These patterns could indicate data exfiltration, password brute force attempts, etc.
  2. App Intelligence automatically identifies more than 2,000 applications, helping you identify and close down “shadow IT” usage that could leave you vulnerable.
  3. Cyber threat hunting lets you explore for hidden, but suspected threats, before they become business-impacting events.

Riverbed has been helping enterprises across the globe with these exact challenges. Our customers are relying on our network visibility and security solutions, now more than ever, to help them handle the work-from-home surge. We can help your IT team, too!

As you work to re-architect your infrastructure for this work-from-home shift, remember that Riverbed Unified NPM is there to support your visibility needs. Riverbed delivers a Unified NPM platform that offers enterprise-scale visibility and analytics. It monitors all packets, all flows, and all infrastructure metrics enterprise-wide to quickly detect and remediate performance issues and security threats. Riverbed Unified NPM combines the breadth, depth and scale of information across on-premises, hybrid and multi-cloud architectures so you get end-to-end visibility with no blind spots.

For more information, go to www.riverbed.com/npm.

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