A hybrid-remote work arrangement, in which employees work at the office or from home (or elsewhere), has become common for many organizations today. A hybrid work environment has proven to maximize productivity and increase job satisfaction for many team members. Businesses utilizing a cybersecurity strategy designed for office-based staff is likely outdated for the landscape over the next few years.
Despite the well-known benefits of a hybrid-remote work model, associated cybersecurity risks remain a concern for many business leaders. For instance, remote workers’ increased access to business-critical applications could unintentionally expose network connections and proprietary data. As a result of heightened potential risk of cyberattack, cybersecurity strategy should be updated for a hybrid-remote workforce.
Lack of adequate physical security
Organizations put physical security measures in place to protect hardware, software, network, and other IT components against physical damage or loss. In a hybrid arrangement, security plans must also account for the physical components of remote staff members. Extra security steps are necessary to manage risks caused by the lack of visibility into the physical security of remote working environments.
A crucial step to updating security strategy is assessing risk. Determine what systems or data hackers are most likely to target, which employees have the most valuable assets that require protection, and what security measures should be enforced to prevent and mitigate threats. Armed with appropriate information, business defenses can be fortified by investing in cybersecurity tools that protect home networks.
Insufficient network protections
The number of potentially malware-infected US organizations doubled between January and March 2020 — before the pandemic hit. As more employees work remotely without the protection of corporate firewalls, the risk of cyberattack inevitably increases.
Mandating the use of a virtual private network (VPN), which ensures that data moves securely between computer systems and devices used by workers, can help. Additionally, network security can be strengthened by choosing a VPN service with top-notch encryption. As employees switch between working in the office and remotely, devices used to connect to a variety of networks are less likely compromise the office network.
BYOD poses cybersecurity risks
Employees’ use of personal devices for work is popular but inherently risky. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones tend to be less secure and have become primary entry points for cybercriminals to hack into company networks and IT systems.
Companies offering a hybrid work model should implement a bring your own device (BYOD) policy that addresses all known BYOD cybersecurity risks. Guidelines should be included for reporting lost or stolen devices, enabling multifactor authentication (MFA), and tightening network security, among others.
Pandemic-themed attacks require a different cybersecurity approach
In April 2020, Google reported blocking 240 million COVID-themed spam messages and more than 100 million phishing emails daily. The pandemic-themed scams preyed on people’s anxieties regarding lockdowns, vaccination programs, and government stimulus packages to attract clicks on a fraudulent link or to download malware-infected files. As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc around the world, people may become more likely to fall prey to social engineering scams than ever before.
Organizations may have to adopt a zero-trust approach to ease the complexity of managing remote and office-based workers who use cloud-enabled systems. A zero-trust model entails continuous authentication, network segmentation, and access restrictions based on “least privilege” principles. The keys to successfully implementing a zero-trust model include end-to-end encryption, MFA, and tighter network detection protocols.
Staff may lack cybersecurity training focused on hybrid work
Remote workers face similar security risks as office workers but with much fewer protections. As a result, businesses may need to review the current cybersecurity training program.
Evaluate staff’s knowledge regarding cyber threats regardless of where work is being conducted. Security tools like VPN with advanced encryption, regularly installing security patches, and enabling MFA are not only indispensable to a cybersecurity strategy but also strengthening the weakest link in organizational security (employees). Ongoing training of employees is integral to cybersecurity protection efforts. Incorporate hybrid remote model-focused information into cybersecurity training to secure hybrid workforce defenses.
Shifting to a hybrid work environment offers many benefits to organizations, but remote work can also increase the challenge of safeguarding systems. Roebuck Technologies can help secure your IT system’s endpoints with a comprehensive end-to-end cybersecurity solution. Send us a message about your IT security concerns today.