As organizations look forward to a labor market rebound, it’s evident that employees aren’t returning to their old ways of working. Employers are also taking note of this trend and have already made investments to prioritize workplace flexibility.

According to a recent Gartner research, 82% of surveyed company leaders say they will allow their employees to work remotely some of the time. Similarly, another survey by PWC published earlier this year shows that the remote work experiment has been a success among employees. 

A majority of the surveyed executives say they expect their employees in the office three days per week post-pandemic. 

Even then, remote and hybrid working aren’t without their fair share of challenges. Several organizations have already witnessed increased cases of cyberattacks. Similarly, many executives are afraid that their company culture will fall apart once remote and hybrid working take center stage.

 

Cybersecurity Risks and a Hybrid Work Environment   

Perhaps, cybersecurity is the greatest threat that hybrid working poses to businesses and organizations around the globe. Remote working relies on cloud computing and remote connectivity tools such as VPNs. Most of the organizations that adopted cloud computing in the wake of the pandemic were new to the cloud environment and didn’t fully understand the implications of such a massive shift in work infrastructure. 

This lack of prior experience gave cyber attackers the chance to exploit every potential loophole they could find. According to an industry survey by McAfee, external attacks on cloud accounts went up by 630% from January to April 2020. And these attacks are increasingly rising and becoming more sophisticated.

In March 2021, Kaspersky released a report showing that brute-force attacks on Windows’ Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) were at 377.5 million worldwide compared to 93 million attacks at the beginning of 2020.

Besides the attacks on the enterprise network or cloud infrastructure, individual remote workers are easy targets. Most remote employees use unsecured Wi-Fi and shared laptops with poor security hygiene. Similarly, the lack of firewalls, slow internet connectivity, or lack of appropriate bandwidth to complete software-update patching leaves much room for cybercriminals.

Other cybersecurity risks such as phishing and vishing are also common in remote and hybrid work environments. These social engineering scams have been quite prevalent over the last year, causing significant losses and reputational damage to some big companies. In fact, Google identified two million phishing websites while ransomware attacks worldwide increased seven-fold.

 

Possible Solutions to Security Risks in the Hybrid Workplace 

Protecting employee and customer data and securing sensitive company information is becoming more difficult in the digital world. That said, the need for robust data protection technologies is on the rise. Today, any piece of data such as emails, online purchase information, social media profile, and website visit history can be used to execute an attack. 

These risks have led to new security demands in the hybrid work environment. Here are some of the solutions that can help curb cybersecurity issues in the new workplace.

1. Use a Secure Company VPN

Instead of using remote desktop protocols (RDPs) alone, pairing it up with a secure company VPN will help secure the communication channels. A VPN reduces data privacy issues by encrypting all the data in and out of the network. It also keeps the IP address anonymous hence helping safeguard your location.

2. Establish a Robust ID-Management System 

An excellent cybersecurity infrastructure protects all the sensitive data from both internal and external threats. Employees using their home network and devices to connect to the corporate system should be considered a risk by default. A solution is to implement a full-access and identity-management system to ensure that the right team member has access to the network. 

3. Constant Monitoring 

Having cybersecurity measures in place is great, but you still need to constantly monitor your network to ensure everything is running as expected. Conducting regular audits on the network will help uncover security issues that would otherwise expose your organization to cyber-attacks. 

 

Nurture a Security-First Culture Today 

With all these measures, it’s apparent that containing cyber risks in a hybrid workplace is demanding. Having all the tools you can get can help safeguard your employee and customer data while also protecting your company from potential financial losses and reputational damage.

Besides the security strategies we have identified above, you also want to nurture a security-first culture in your organization. One way of achieving this is by investing in security awareness and cybersecurity training programs. This will ensure every employee is aware and constantly on the lookout for any security threat.

That said, managing cybersecurity risk and compliance issues in the hybrid work environment calls for a true and tried strategy. Investing in the right cybersecurity tools and technologies, such as an automated GRC solution, can help your organization stay up-to-date with the latest market trends and changing compliance regulations.