Risks of Hybrid Working: Safeguarding Cybersecurity in the New Era

The global pandemic has undeniably caused significant disruptions in people’s lives and businesses. While business leaders understandably have learned to prioritize crisis management, operational resilience, environmental initiatives, and employee well-being, it is crucial to also address the security of hybrid and remote systems and networks in the post-pandemic era.

Many companies are opting to maintain fully remote or hybrid work arrangements even in the post-pandemic years and it is imperative to remain vigilant about the physical, personnel, and system security implications involved. 

The shift to remote and hybrid work inherently entails a greater reliance on technology, which in turn exposes organizations to increased vulnerabilities in the realm of security. This heightened dependence on technology creates a fertile ground for various security threats, including cyberattacks, data breaches, fraud, bribery, corruption, and more. The steep rise in cybercrime since the pandemic stands as evidence of the pressing need for robust cybersecurity measures in hybrid work environments.

As employees become comfortable in a diverse set of workspaces, ensuring their safety and implementing appropriate security protocols will be crucial for business continuity.

Risks of Hybrid Working: Safeguarding Cybersecurity in the New Era

Benefits and Challenges of Hybrid Working Culture

Work From Anywhere Advantages

A recent poll conducted by Gallup revealed the top advantages reported by employees that work in a hybrid environment.

  • Improved work-life balance
  • More efficient use of time
  • Less work burnout
  • Higher productivity
  • Lower overhead

Hybrid Risks and Challenges

Uncohesive IT Environment

One of the biggest problems in a hybrid work security environment is maintaining a secure and cohesive IT environment across multiple locations, devices, and network integrations.

Cloud-based applications, which are commonly used in hybrid setups, introduce new remote work securityrisks and data management complexities. Employees must receive proper cybersecurity awareness and training to stay updated with the latest technology trends and counteract the tactics employed by cybercriminals. 

Huge Attack Surface

The expanded attack surface resulting from remote access to company resources increases the potential entry points for cybercriminals, including unsecured home networks, personal devices, and public Wi-Fi hotspots. Strict data protection measures and strong authentication protocols are necessary to mitigate the risk of targeted attacks and data breaches.

Complex Incident Response 

Managing incident response becomes more challenging in a hybrid or remote work environment due to several factors. Firstly, the dispersed nature of employees and the use of different networks and devices make it difficult to promptly identify and respond to security incidents. The lack of a centralized physical presence makes it harder to coordinate and communicate effectively during a crisis.

Compliance violations

While IT and security teams typically implement policies to restrict access to high-risk websites through firewalls, these policies may not cover the assets of remote workers. As a result, the devices and data of employees working from home may be exposed to potential threats from cybercriminals. The decentralized nature of remote work makes it difficult to enforce consistent security measures and controls, emphasizing the need for comprehensive security solutions that address the unique risks associated with remote work environments.

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How Can You Manage Security in a Hybrid Work Environment?

To effectively manage cybersecurity in a hybrid work environment, organizations must implement security protocols and measures that protect data and technology assets. This includes access controls, firewalls, data backup and recovery systems, encryption, and regular security assessments and training. The responsibility falls on designated individuals within the organization to manage tasks such as identifying team members, maintaining folder structures, and ensuring the confidentiality of sensitive information. 

How To Secure Workplaces in the Next Era: 

The flexibility of the hybrid work model allows employees to work from any location, but it also requires a strong security and governance framework to maintain control and prevent data leaks.

Adopt a Zero-Trust policy

In the world of zero trust, the mantra is clear: trust none, verify all.

At the heart of the zero-trust model lie two crucial components that play a pivotal role in fortifying our security defenses. The first is identity authentication, which demands the verification of one’s identity, employing multifaceted factors such as biometric markers or secure tokens.

But Zero Trust goes further than that. In the realm of the hybrid work culture, where boundaries blur and networks expand, network access control management becomes a formidable challenge. With employees operating from different locations, on diverse networks, and using a big mix of devices, controlling access can get overwhelming. Zero Trust systems meticulously analyze every network request and verify the legitimacy of each connection so nothing slips through the cracks. 

Set up Multi-Factor Authentication  (MFA)

MFA adds a layer of protection by requiring multiple factors for user authentication. Typically, it combines something the user knows (e.g., a password), something the user possesses (e.g., a mobile device for receiving one-time passwords), and something the user is (e.g., biometric verification like facial recognition or fingerprint). By incorporating these multiple factors, MFA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access even if one factor is compromised.

Vet Your Third-Parties

In today’s hybrid ecosystem of cloud computing, remote employment, and global supply chain ecosystems, organizations are increasingly using the services of third parties to increase productivity, efficiency, and delivery of goods and services – yet most organizations don’t address the interrelated rise in malicious threats and vendor risks. Third-party vendors that handle sensitive corporate data often lack critical security controls.

As the use of third-party vendors increases, so does the need to manage the inherent risks that emerge with these partnerships.

G is For Governance 

To effectively safeguard identities and data, organizations must prioritize the implementation of meticulous, well-thought-out, and comprehensive governance policies. These policies should be considered non-negotiable, as they play a crucial role in mitigating risks and ensuring the overall security of the hybrid environment. 

Addressing cybersecurity risks in hybrid work environments requires a hybrid approach that combines technical controls and user behavior training. Using a company VPN alongside remote desktop protocols can secure communication channels and encrypt user connections. Establishing identity management strategies ensures secure access to work resources, regardless of the location or device used. Building a security-minded culture through frequent security training increases awareness and strengthens overall security.

Switch Gears to “Proactive Safety” Mode

Drawing inspiration from the realm of physical safety, where advancements like automatic braking systems have revolutionized accident prevention, the concept of proactive safety is now being applied to the realm of cybersecurity. Instead of relying solely on reactive measures to address incidents after they occur, active safety takes a proactive stance by implementing mechanisms and structures that prevent cyber incidents from happening in the first place.

One of the critical factors driving the need for active safety in cybersecurity is the recognition that human error often serves as a significant vulnerability. By addressing this vulnerability and focusing on eliminating human error, organizations can significantly enhance their security posture. This involves educating employees and empowering them to become better navigators of the digital landscape

In the hybrid work culture, active safety mechanisms enable organizations to proactively identify and prevent potential threats, adapting security measures to the ever-changing work landscape.

Hybrid Work Requires an Integrated Security Solution

Centraleyes is a comprehensive risk and compliance management platform that can provide valuable support to companies navigating the risks associated with hybrid and remote work cultures. With its cutting-edge features and functionalities, Centraleyes offers a range of solutions tailored to address the unique challenges posed by these work environments.

Start Getting Value With
Centraleyes for Free

See for yourself how the Centraleyes platform exceeds anything an old GRC
system does and eliminates the need for manual processes and spreadsheets
to give you immediate value and run a full risk assessment in less than 30 days

Looking to learn more about Risks of Hybrid Working?
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