Cato Networks releases findings of work from home IT survey

78% of enterprises spending more time supporting their remote workforce since the pandemic, finds new survey of more than 2,686 IT leaders.

SASE company CATO Networks has released the results of its 'Work from Anywhere' survey. The survey found that despite the massive investment in remote access infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies continue to struggle supporting remote workers. In short, the deployed remote access technology fails to meet enterprise requirements, forcing support and helpdesk to compensate.

Eyal Webber-Zvik, Vice President of Product Marketing at Cato Networks said: "Work from anywhere has shifted business focus from the place of work to the users and the work they need to do. This shift created a whole slew of operational and budgetary challenges for IT in service delivery, access optimization, and pervasive security that are designed around locations rather than people. We are now able to identify these issues and address them."

During the pandemic, enterprises had to quickly adapt to a work-from-anywhere business model, moving the workplace from the office to an individual's remote location. Many enterprises chose to invest in their existing and known security platforms, particularly centralized VPN servers (42%). Many respondents (40%) indicated they backhaul remote access traffic today to a VPN server.

In the post-pandemic environment, 82% of respondents indicated that their companies will continue with work-from-anywhere or remote only models. This is reflected in their priorities post-pandemic. Providing secure Internet access everywhere continues to be the top priority for 67% of respondents.

"The pandemic has shown us that businesses are no longer tied to a specific office or location," Webber-Zvik stated. "By implementing a work from anywhere model, businesses are transitioning to a more efficient and collaborative way of doing business, allowing them to better meet the needs of their customers, as well as their employees."

But while a hybrid working model may be good business, the rush to implement remote access at scale has created significant problems for IT. 78% of respondents say they're spending more time supporting remote workers; 47% of respondents reported time supporting remote workers grew by 25% or more.

This is particularly true for those respondents of legacy networks where remote traffic is backhauled to a centralized VPN server. In those environments, remote user complaints soared to 83% of respondents, versus 45% of respondents sending traffic local security appliances or services.

More specifically, respondents broke remote user challenges down into three areas — service delivery, application performance, and security:

Service Delivery: Remote users suffer in most cases when accessing services. More than half of respondents indicated that users complain about connection instability (52%) and poor voice or video quality (28%).

Application Performance: More than a third (36%) of respondents indicated that slow application response was the most dominant remote user complaint. For those that backhaul traffic, 30% said application performance for remote users was worse than in the office versus just 22% for those not backhauling traffic.

Security: Nearly half (44%) of respondents indicated they could not provide remote workers with the same level of security for all traffic as their office counterparts. And the vast majority — 86% for Internet traffic and 83% for WAN traffic — were unable to provide the same level of security for remote workers as they do for office workers.

Remote workers are being protected, predominantly by IPS (72%) and antimalware (66%) but rarely by Sandboxing (24%). Best practice for remote authentication — the use of SSO (Single Sign On) and MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) — is only being implemented by 33% of respondents, while 24% continue to rely on the weakest of approaches — username and password.

"Moving to a hybrid working model has not been easy for many IT departments," Webber-Zvik said "It is a bigger problem than just scaling remote access infrastructure and if not done correctly, as we have seen from the survey responses, can be damaging to productivity."

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