The adaptability of several organizations was tested by the sudden shift to telecommuting triggered by the pandemic last year. As of 2022, we know that these changes are not temporary. A hybrid work model, a combination of office and telecommuting, is part of the new norm and poses many new challenges, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. Enterprises today are looking for ways to secure an expanding attack surface and a distributed workforce from the network to the cloud, to endpoints, and to all users. Like enterprises, attackers have adapted to the new norm, and attacks targeting remote workers’ personal devices and home networks have increased. Scams and phishing attacks that exploit people’s fears in times of crisis also continue to increase as professional and personal lives merge online. It is also constantly evolving, as attackers often adjust their skills and campaigns based on relevance. The increased complexity of hybrid operations presents new opportunities for attackers.
In a typical hybrid workplace, some employees are in the office, some employees work from home or in locations such as coffee shops, etc., and some commute by bike. Devices also move to and from the corporate network. Employees bring their laptops to the corporate network and then take them home, and home is much more vulnerable to hackers and can be easily infected with malware. Security leaders, therefore, face the challenge of supporting an ever-changing mix of office and telecommuter, business, and home devices.
What Are Some of the Challenges Faced by Companies?
The rise of the hybrid work environment is one of the reasons for the significant increase in cybercrime. Employees move between secure office environments with corporate network monitoring, event and data analytics, and firewalls. Whether employees work in the field or remotely on a weak home network that may contain weak passwords, rogue devices, or outdated equipment, the hybrid work environment now poses an ongoing cybersecurity risk to businesses.
- Enterprises are increasingly relying on cloud and remote connectivity tools, including virtual private networks (VPNs), to create hybrid work environments. While hackers continue to utilize these vulnerabilities in VPN gateways, cyberattacks against cloud services and ransomware attacks have increased a lot.
- Software update patching gets delayed due to insufficient internet connection or bandwidth. This leaves a vulnerability that cybercriminals exploit. The use of unauthorized software that may contain malware also jeopardizes the cybersecurity of an enterprise.
- Non-existent or weak home Wi-Fi security, absent firewalls, family laptops, unsecured mobile devices, lack of antivirus software, and below-par security hygiene are some of the major issues security experts experience when their employees work remotely.
- Extended internet perimeters make it difficult to protect confidential information. Remote access to sensitive data requires more stringent verification and balancing than traditional office environments, and makes it easy for attackers to spoof digital identities and take over data remotely.
How to Tackle These Major Issues?
Here are some ways to tackle the key issues when it comes to creating a safe work environment.
- Use a Company VPN
VPN can be used in conjunction with the Remote Desktop Protocol to secure communications between the office and remote workers. A VPN is the most practical solution for minimizing data privacy and security concerns as all of your connection data is encrypted.
- Establish ID-Management Strategies
IT plays a much larger role in a hybrid work ecosystem. When employees use their personal home network to connect to work resources and use their devices to connect, IT and security departments cannot manage all the tools that remote workers depend on. This added entry point is open to unauthorized users and security risks. Implementing full access and identity management strategy allows team members to continue working locally and remotely.
- Develop a Security-Oriented Culture
A security-centric culture can help organizations curb information security problems among dispersed employees. Frequent security training (virtual and personal) can help increase awareness of remote workers and improve overall security. Humans are the weakest link in a cybersecurity program, but they can also be the strongest defense. Cybersecurity training helps your team become aware of common phishing tactics and develop best practices for network security.
The Key Takeaway
While the pandemic has not triggered any new cyber threats, the number has clearly increased with the advent of hybrid work environments. Ultimately, the prime aim of cybersecurity risk management is to shield your organization from cyberattacks and data breaches or leaks that can put your business at risk. In a hybrid work environment, keeping data secure is more difficult than ever. However, following the above steps can keep your organization’s data to quite an extent.
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