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.
Benefits and Drawbacks of a Diverse-Location Work 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
Hybrid Risks and Challenges
Uncohesive IT Environment
One of the biggest problems in a hybrid work environment is maintaining a secure and cohesive IT environment across multiple locations, devices, and network integrations.
Cloud-based applications, which are commonly used in remote work setups, introduce new cybersecurity risks 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.
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.