Remote work has become the new normal for many businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The increase in working from home introduces new risks that IT professionals are struggling to manage with existing security tools, according to a new study.

The 2021 Thales Access Management Index, a global survey of 2,600 IT decision makers, was conducted to better understand the new security risks and challenges caused by the rise of remote working and cloud transformation over the past year.

VPNs are the current prevailing security solution

Of the IT leaders surveyed, six in 10 respondents said traditional security tools such as VPNs are the primary vehicle for employees accessing applications remotely. Almost half of respondents (44%) were not confident that their access security systems could scale effectively to secure remote work.

According to the index, respondents have many different systems deployed for remote access. When asked about the technologies that were in place, VPN was the most common, with 60% of IT professionals identifying the capability. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, cloud-based access and Zero Trust network access/software defined perimeter (ZTNA/SDP) closely followed. When asked what new access technologies respondents were planning to deploy due to the pandemic, nearly half (44%) indicated ZTNA/SDP was the top technology choice.

Exploring Zero Trust models

The report found that Zero Trust models are the solution of choice for respondents seeking to improve access environments, yet many are still in the early stage of adoption.

According to the research, less than a third (30%) of the respondents claim to have a formal strategy and have actively embraced a Zero Trust policy. Additionally, almost half (45%) are either planning, researching or considering a Zero Trust strategy. Less than a third (32%) of the respondents indicated that Zero Trust shapes their cloud security strategy to a great extent.

“The shift towards a Zero Trust model, along with increasing use of modern authentication technologies, like adaptive and multifactor authentication (MFA), will improve organisations’ security posture," said Eric Hanselman, chief analyst at 451 Research. "This will be an exciting space to watch as businesses continue to deal with dynamic workplace environments.”