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The new small branch office

Remote working saw a spike like never before during the first half of 2020, with workers across the globe forced out of the office and into lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. There wasn’t a single industry that went unaffected by the pandemic, but financial services in particular witnessed a huge change in the way it functions. Thanks to hard work from their organisations’ IT teams, most people in the industry are now able to work flexibly and remotely – but some are still grappling with the challenges of not having the bandwidth and performance to continue performing their roles effectively. Solutions need to be found – one of which is SD-WAN.

 

Solving the problem

Many financial services organisations brought in SD-WAN to connect and secure their remote workers after it became clear that this situation was going to last more than a few weeks. Financial services professionals working from home need resilient and agile connectivity to conduct their work at the same standards that they would have in the office due to their reliance on specialist software and live feedback. Many remote workers are also left fighting for a slim slice of connectivity pie in busy households with multiple users trying to download larger files and the programmes to access them – a situation that isn’t going to be sustainable long term. Something needs to be done.

Many of the systems already in place to allow remote work aren’t configured for high volumes of users, so that provides little consolation. Combine this with a need to maintain regulatory compliance, and it becomes clear that financial services businesses need to make a serious investment if they’re going to be able to continue to operate optimally. Rather than trying to work around the complex network of individual set-ups, many are coping with these challenges by operating as local branches rather than giant hubs.

By encouraging workers to come into smaller branches where it is safe to do so, they’re able to keep the business ticking over by maintaining social distancing and mitigating the need for a huge commute. SD-WAN is the perfect solution to provide the speed and resilience required as well as the option for certain “power users” working from home to have their own personal solution.  But while SD-WAN is the right connectivity option, what can be done from a security perspective?

 

Security issues

The security architecture of a financial services organisation is complex at best, let alone when trying to navigate a new hybrid system of users. Holding and handling so much sensitive client data, it’s paramount for these companies to avoid security breaches. Additionally, thousands of hours spent in a boardroom have suddenly been replaced with calls and video conferences that need to be recorded and stored somewhere, presenting a goldmine of information for malicious hackers. This is where SD-WAN comes in.

To guarantee that SD-WAN is not the weak link in the security chain, IT teams needs to choose an SD-WAN that features fully integrated security. This eliminates the cost and complexity of an SD-WAN solution that is separate from your existing security solutions. All while ensuring that your SD-WAN connections are fully protected by security measures that were designed to cope with its unique needs, rather than a mixture of cobbled together solutions. So, SD-WAN can be a cost effective, secure way of dealing with the challenges of the new small branch financial services office. However, it might not be right solution for everyone in your company.

 

To SD-WAN, or not to SD-WAN?

Not all of your users may require or justify the need for an SD-WAN solution. Many of them with more admin-heavy roles will use standard VPN connections and don’t require the additional features provided by SD-WAN. Instead, these users can continue on lower cost or even free remote access solutions, such as Fortinet’s FortiClient solution.

However, whether distributed remote offices or selected remote workers, there’s no better solution than SD-WAN to give them the quality of services necessary to do their jobs efficiently while reducing risk.

 

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Scott Cutler

Scott Cutler

Director,

Fortinet

Member since

09 Aug 2018

Location

London

Blog posts

10

This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Information Security

The risks from Cyber cime - Hacking - Loss of Data Privacy - Identity Theft and other topical threats - can be greatly reduced by implementation of robust IT Security controls ...


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