Over the past few months, we’ve written numerous articles on hybrid working and the various factors to consider while adopting it. In today’s article, let’s dive into the risks associated with devices, employees and technology – Cyber risk!
Cyber Risk in a Hybrid Work Environment
If your organisation has adopted the Hybrid Working Model, it is essential to recognise the cybersecurity risks that can harm its intellectual property. Here are some of the most common cyber threats in a hybrid workplace:
⚠️ Monitoring remote workspaces is harder
When employees work from the office, they are all protected by the same network defences. The IT department adopts control and recognises when unauthorised actors are trying to access the network. However, this is not the case when people work from a remote environment. Weak Wi-Fi, shared laptops, lack of firewalls and anti-virus software, and weak passwords leave weak points for cyber-criminals to exploit.
Remote workers are more exposed to distractions by family members or social media. Therefore, they are more likely to click on malicious links. Did you know that Google registered a total of 2 million phishing websites in 2020 alone? This goes to show that one distracted move from a remote worker can instantly result in a breach, causing damage to themselves and their company.
⚠️ Stolen devices and documents
Irish firms and individuals lose over € 400 million a year due to lost or stolen electronic gadgets. If not protected with strong passwords or remote-wipe features, these laptops, smartphones and tablets could expose important corporate and financial data.
Despite the popularity of digital technologies, there is also a massive risk of losing important paper documents that can reveal sensitive data to cyber-criminals.
⚠️ Technology challenges
According to the Cloud Industry Forum research, 41% of employers think that remote working is still not as secure as working in the office. The absence of real-time visibility and missed-patching cycles are two significant challenges for the security of virtual teams. Moreover, a hybrid workplace requires more shuffling of data between remote employees, cloud servers and employees who work in the office. This level of complexity requires careful managing and monitoring.
WAYS TO MANAGE CYBER RISK IN A HYBRID WORK ENVIRONMENT
Here are a few things you can do to address the concerns mentioned above:
🔒 Provide a company VPN
A Virtual Private Network or a VPN ensures that information is encrypted as it travels across networks. Therefore, mitigating the risk of a third-party intercepting it. A VPN is the most practical option for remote or hybrid teams to ensure data privacy. They can be used anywhere and don’t need different security controls based on where employees are working.
🔒 Device Security
The devices given to the employees should be protected and managed by IT. Remote lock and data wipe, disk encryption, regular patching, and cloud backup are all critical elements that your organisation should take into consideration.
🔒 Access control
User authentication is the most important part of any security strategy, especially in a remote or hybrid environment. Every organisation should use best practices such as unique passwords, use of password managers and multi-factor authentication.
🔒 Employee awareness
Educating your staff about cyber-security will ensure that they are aware of phishing tactics and best practices that they should follow while working remotely and in the office. Discussing the importance of healthy password practices and safe web usage will instil a security-minded culture among employees.
Here’s an article by our Head of IT on leveraging IT for a safe return to the office. Read more here.