As we see companies more towards a hybrid workplace, IT departments are now managing more computers and printers in more workspaces than ever before. Businesses have adopted new platforms rapidly, and workers are accessing business information and data from a multitude of devices, networks and locations. This creates a range of challenges for businesses seeking to ensure remote work security as they transition from traditional workplaces to hybrid work environments.
Here are four ways you can secure your hybrid work environment and reduce the risk of a data breach both now and in the future.
1. Secure endpoints
Securing endpoints is critical to ensure that attackers do not use them to access your company network. While company computers are likely to already be secured, workers may also be using other devices that are open to attack, such as personal mobiles and home office printers, particularly if they work remotely.
Many workers use mobiles to access business information, including emails, shared files and instant messages, and without appropriate security, this leaves your data open to phishing scams, mobile malware, app data leaks and network attacks.
To secure mobile devices, workplaces should start by establishing a mobile security or bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy that provides clear guidance on what personal devices employees can use for work and how information should be accessed in a safe and secure manner, as well as mobile security best practices.
IT departments should also implement cybersecurity solutions, such as anti-malware software and VPNs, conduct regular security audits and have a data breach response plan in place.
Home office printers are a commonly overlooked remote work security risk, particularly in businesses that adapted quickly to hybrid workplace models. Consumer printers do not offer the same level of protection that specialised devices do, leaving your network and data open to attack. Vulnerabilities include unauthorised access to print data, unauthorised configuration changes, the printer as an attack point for other applications and print job manipulation.
Specialised printing devices come with strong security features to counter these attacks, such as network authentication, data encryption, overwrite-erase and password access. Furthermore, specialised devices are more cost-effective and productive.
2. Secure data
As well as ensuring the remote work security of devices, businesses can take specific steps to secure their data at its source. By using a content services solution, such as a document management system (DMS) or Enterprise Content Management (ECM), organisations will have access to several features that can improve data security and reduce the risk of an attack, including:
- Access controls and monitoring
- Feature controls limiting the actions a user can take with a document
- Secure sharing of digital files
- User authentication
- Data encryption
- Secure backup, archiving and storage
- Audit trails
3. Secure cloud
Cloud software and services are commonly used in hybrid workplaces for their accessibility and scalability. However, many organisations mistakenly believe that the provider is solely responsible for security in the cloud environment.
However, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 99 percent of cloud security failures will be the customer’s fault. Additionally, if organisations don’t control their public cloud use—that is, their use of free cloud services—then they will also be highly likely to share sensitive data over these platforms.
While cloud service providers must provide systems and servers that are secure, businesses also have a responsibility to ensure their data is safe and secure. There are five steps that organisations can take to secure their information in cloud environments:
- Assess your current data and document environment
- Monitor, control and limit access to files
- Keep your network security up-to-date
- Use strong passwords and encryption
- Educate your staff
4. Secure staff
Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report found 33 percent of attacks included social engineering, while 32 percent of breaches featured phishing. Furthermore, errors helped cause a breach in 21 percent of cases. In other words, your employees are your most likely security risk, even if it’s not their intention.
Cybersecurity awareness training is critical for reducing the risk of a data breach as a result of an employee’s actions. Training should take place at least annually and cover topics such as:
- Cybersecurity best practices, eg. secure passwords and two-factor authentication
- Current and common security threats, eg. recognising phishing attacks
- Workplace policies that relate to cybersecurity, eg. remote working, mobile security and BYOD policies
Security is one critical factor to consider when establishing a hybrid work environment, alongside other factors such as productivity, collaboration, scalability and resilience. Building a resilient and productive hybrid work environment requires the right hardware, software and processes. Download our Smarter Workplaces Guide for a step-by-step strategy for implementing an effective hybrid work model that equips your employees to work anywhere, any time.