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Security Challenges of hybrid work environment

5 min read

In the hybrid workplace, security is no longer tied to a specific location or headquarters, but to employees wherever they are working. In the remote or hybrid workplace, IT always needs to know who is accessing what network resources. This digital transparency should apply to employees who access company data through the cloud, at home, or in the office.

Without complete visibility, it will be very difficult to identify suspicious activity and stop potential data breaches. The security approach is a device posture approach that ensures employees can only connect to authenticated devices that comply with security policies. This will prevent malicious logins and attacks by automatically denying access to unknown or secure compromised devices upon login.

Due to the flexible nature of hybrid work models, companies have had to reconsider the security aspects of their mobility programs. Employees want to use their mobile devices in a professional way, which often improves their productivity. Whether a business allows workers to bring their device or to turn it in, the need to secure endpoints in a hybrid work environment can be challenging.

The content and acceptable use of a device match the situation of employees as it changes throughout their shift based on factors such as who is using it, for what, where, and when. Your permissions and functionality dynamically adjust based on how your movements change and what’s happening around you at any given time.

The security challenges for the hybrid working model

So how big is the cyber risk for organizations when they adopt a new way of working? Earlier research found that 80% of companies globally trust their employees working remotely to have the knowledge and technology needed to deal with cyber threats. However, 73% of organizations admitted that they are likely to be affected by a cybersecurity incident, and half said that they have already experienced a security breach in the past. This type of disconnect does not contribute to coherent cybersecurity planning.

  1. Strengthen cybersecurity

One of the biggest challenges that hybrid work models represent for companies, and especially for IT management, has to do with the growing risks in cyber security. Any employee in a remote location can use their laptop and a public network connection to access corporate applications, posing a high risk to data security and privacy.

With hybrid work environments, endpoints, or network terminal points diversify, networks expand and the risks of security incidents increase exponentially. Therefore, all hybrid and remote employees must be aware of security standards and fully comply with them. Businesses may put protocols in place to ensure that everybody using their systems, no matter where they are, is safe whilst working online. This could be through cyber security support in Denver, or wherever they are based, so they can outsource any problems that have the potential to come up, or assess what their current systems are like to see if there is the possibility of a breach.

  1. The human factor

Ask any cybersecurity professional and they will likely tell you that employees are the weakest link in an organization’s security chain. That is why during the first days of the pandemic we saw phishing campaigns that were massively reused to attract users desperate for the latest news about the health crisis. 

Remote workers are more exposed because working from home with a family member or someone they live with can lead them to be distracted and therefore more likely to make mistakes and click on malicious links. Contacting the IT helpdesk or even getting a colleague to review a suspicious email is much more difficult when working remotely while using home networks and work PCs can offer fewer protections against malware. Now that many workers are returning to the office, there is understandable concern that they may bring with them bad habits picked up over the last 18 months.

  1. Technological and cloud-specific challenges

Remote work infrastructure was also a hot topic during the pandemic: think about the use of exploits targeting unpatched vulnerabilities in VPN solutions or misconfigured RDP servers protected with weak access credentials or that had been exposed in the wild. a previous gap.

The high adoption of new cloud services also caught the attention of threat actors last year. There is constant concern about software-level vulnerabilities and misconfigurations by users, and reports of stolen login credentials. It is telling that 41% of organizations continue to believe that the office is a more secure environment than the cloud. Additionally, a hybrid work environment arguably implies more data transfer between remote workers, cloud servers, and office workers. This complexity will require careful management.

  1. The limitations of remote virtual desktops (VDI)

It is a fact that virtual desktop infrastructure technologies (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure VDI) allow remote work, but they also have annoying limitations. For example, there is no offline mode with VDI tools; hybrid employees in remote locations will only be able to work if they are online and connected. Also, because computing power is transferred from the data center to hundreds or thousands of remote endpoints, performance tends to suffer. And without proper provision, virtual desktop infrastructure can malfunction or not work at all. At such a level, the remote experience may suffer, as the VDI infrastructure may be different from what employees are used to running on their office machines. 

Why is password managing experience important in the hybrid working model?

The hybrid work model seeks to create a balance between the face-to-face experience and the opportunities generated by remote work so that both employers and employees enjoy the advantages of a mixed scheme.

The advantages of remote working are accompanied by challenges, such as the blurring of professional and personal lines. Whereas in the past, the presence of colleagues in an office environment influenced security behaviors, encouraging better practice, the naturally more relaxed environment of home working causes employees to become less careful with certain practices. 

Certain corporate resources that would previously have never left the workplace are now readily accessible to relatives, tradespeople, or any other visitor to a residence. Employees are also less likely to seek spontaneous advice from coworkers, which increases the risk of them clicking on a malicious link and exposing important information. Employees will have to remember separate login credentials depending on whether they work in the office or at home, which will reduce productivity and provide a new security risk. The majority of these threats are related to password security. If workers are in charge of their passwords, the shift to hybrid working can greatly increase the danger of critical information being exposed and a data breach occurring. 

Final thoughts

Cybersecurity in hybrid work environments depends on both the security measures adopted in the office and those adopted by employees at home when working remotely, both must be at the same level of demand and rigor to prevent unwanted access, blockages, and/or information theft. However, to realize the benefits of working from home in the long run, they must conduct a systematic audit and invest where appropriate.

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