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Network Security in the Age of Hybrid Work

Date posted: 24 May 2022  –   Category: Cabling Services

The onset of Covid-19 hurtled British businesses into a new era of working regimes. With national restrictions serving as a catalyst for remote conditions and digital solutions, the hybrid model continues to spread into the post-pandemic offices of today.

Many businesses are now opting for a staff-friendly strategy that brings out the best of both working worlds: flexible hours, tech-based communication, and the sorely-missed social aspects of real-life company culture.

In a survey conducted by the Gensler Research Institute in 2020, over half of respondents said they preferred a hybrid environment, favouring the balance of productivity and convenience it allows.

Those already settled within a hybrid model reported higher levels of creativity and communication when compared to those either working full-time in the office or at home. 50% of those surveyed had experienced a positive impact on their ability to manage their teams, while only 26% said the same under remote conditions.

The Risk of Remote

However, the hybrid revolution has introduced a fresh set of network security issues to watch out for.

The advancement of the pandemic saw the year 2020 break all records in cyber-attack history – identity theft doubled, and the average cost of a data breach reached $3.86 million, according to a study from IBM and Ponemon Institute.

In the first half of the year, Netscout saw as many as 18 DDoS attacks occur every minute, totalling around 4.83 million.

But the good news is, we’re here to offer you four practical tips to ensure your business is fully equipped with the best security solutions, in and out of the office.

1. Employee Responsibility

The shift to remote working was uncharted territory for the majority of office employees – many were having to navigate IT issues on their own for the first time, in an isolated environment, adding another dimension of DIY difficulty to an already stressful situation.

As a result, employees may become overwhelmed or might just be unaware of their need to practice good cyber hygiene – a Data Breach Investigations Report in 2021 found that 85% of breaches involved the human element.

Making sure that your team understands their responsibility to stay on top of things such as keeping track of their account login information, locking their devices, knowing what not to click on, and even ensuring no non-employees use their equipment is fundamental to mitigating potential risks.

Employee responsibility is a crucial issue for companies who want to shift to hybrid working. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to raise cybersecurity awareness through webinars, meetings, and training courses. 

2. Zero Trust

As hybrid working has seen a surge in popularity, so too has the Zero Trust model.

Companies are increasingly adopting this approach to tackle risks brought about by remote working. As businesses are now having to pivot to total accessibility for their employees, regardless of location or device, maintaining safety and security without having to sacrifice the user experience is a top priority.

This is where practicing Zero Trust can help. It enables teams to correlate security information across all domains – instead of relying on a perimeter such as a firewall, every user, device, and app requires verification to enable access upon each and every use.

The idea promotes caution towards the internal as well as the external, attacking the risk of threat as a whole rather than solely on the outside of a team. The term was coined by student Stephen Marsh, who included it in his doctoral thesis at the University of Stirling in 1994.

3. Designated Devices

As a method of fusion by nature, there are going to be some blurred lines when it comes to hybrid work.

However, setting boundaries with your team’s devices is an effective way to minimise certain risks that come with personal devices being used.

Employees may be returning to work with a variety of devices they have been using collectively to work from home, making themselves more vulnerable to attack as a result of connecting to various networks or not regularly updating their firmware. 

By providing employees with designated company devices, businesses are able to monitor and regulate the processes and functions of all work-related activity in a more secure manner.

4. The Cloud Factor

Hybrid working and the cloud go hand in hand, but potential exposure to a team’s digital infrastructure has introduced concerns over user misconfiguration of SaaS offerings and breaches of privacy.

The Cloud Industry forum even reported that 41% of organisations still believed the office to be a safer environment than the cloud, highlighting the importance of properly protecting these processes to maximise cyber security.

Some ways in which businesses can do this are:

  • Reach out to a cloud security advisor. Brush up on the best industry practices to support cloud implementation in a hybrid environment.
  • Centralise visibility. This is particularly important in a hybrid scenario where you will have various resources across multiple public and private clouds.
  • Utilise threat-prevention cloud tools. Make use of third-party platforms that will enhance your cloud security with complex solutions.

With hybrid business models set to outlive the effects of Covid on the working world, there’s never been a more crucial time to invest in proper digital safety strategies. Remote working paved the way for a road that businesses were certainly set to travel at some point, but now we’re here it’s safe to say that cyber security is a necessary lifeline for the post-pandemic office era.

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