The digital age has ushered in a multitude of changes that businesses need to implement into their cybersecurity strategies. The most relevant change is the adoption of hybrid working structures and the associated threat to cybersecurity configurations.
Hybrid Working Models Post-Pandemic
Post-pandemic more and more organizations are deciding to implement remote working models to upend the financial challenges faced during the lockdown. This does however come several security risks that haven't yet been fully understood or addressed. Businesses are working hard to protect their networks but with the advent and adoption of cloud-based technology, they are finding it ever more difficult to implement an effective solution.
There's no doubt that the hybrid model is taking over the office environment. Employees are increasingly encouraged to work remotely and come into the office only when necessary. Whilst remote work does have many benefits including increased happiness, productivity, and job satisfaction, it does pose several security threats that could cause businesses to reevaluate their long-term strategies.
The Dangers To Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity crime has risen by a massive 600% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic with 30% of those organizations seeing a rise in the number of cyberattacks since the start of 2020. Unfortunately, the number is set to grow exponentially in the next five years with 54% of IT industry experts concerned about the ratio of future cyberattacks.
Remote workers who are away from the office more than 80% of the time can have their connections firewalled which helps to secure vulnerable networks. But, hybrid workers risk infecting malware into the system every time they connect their device to a business network. Cybercriminals bank on this behavior and target remote workers for this very reason.
Working to secure access points, identifying intruders, and keeping note of malicious activities takes up a substantial amount of time and resources. It poses a challenge for IT departments that are still adjusting to hybrid working models and need time to iron out the kinks. Hackers are getting ever more sophisticated and with a growing number of targets in remote workers, they are becoming more confident than ever.
Protecting Your Hybrid Organization From Cybersecurity Threats
Long-standing cybersecurity policies need to be overhauled to reflect the modern working environment. Most businesses will have had a cybersecurity strategy in place before the pandemic and haven't updated them since. The changes that need to be made concern people's working habits, specifically remote workers who tend to spend a lot of time out of the office.
The financial ramifications could be huge if businesses aren't able to find solutions to the problems that the digital revolution has inserted into society. The best thing businesses can do to combat the threat of hybrid cybersecurity challenges is to educate employees on the importance of vigilant security protocols and advise them on the latest industry scams.
Workers need to be able to respond efficiently and proactively to social engineering and phishing scams by choosing strong passwords and physically protecting their laptops and mobile phones. Implementing easy-to-follow guidelines into your cybersecurity strategy will allow for a teachable moment that relays the importance of workplace and remote security vigilance.
How To Mitigate Cybersecurity Threats For Your Remote Workers
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency(CISA) warned businesses about the threat of personal devices to vulnerable infrastructure and networks. Post-pandemic, businesses are largely ignoring this advice and allowing their digital employees to work on personal devices whilst accessing networks remotely. This opens up another access point for cybersecurity criminals to permeate weak networks and reap havoc.
To make matters worse, CISA issued a recent report detailing successful attacks against cloud services in several different organizations. They found that most of the attacks that took place happened to employees who used both personal and corporate devices to access their company's networks. In these instances, effective action wasn't taken in hardening devices that were left vulnerable to outside attack.
Non-Negotiable Employee Training
Nearly half of all companies surveyed by Malwarebytes in 2021, admitted that only a marginal percentage of their workers were sufficiently trained in modern cybersecurity threats. Hardy cybersecurity criminals are working around the clock to alter their patterns and attack in new ways. The immense rise in Phishing attacks, for example, is evidence that social engineering is being increasingly used to target specific individuals inside companies.
Studies show that the vast majority of cyberattacks that take place within businesses are caused by human error. Employee training is as vital as complimenting security procedures and upgrading software. Cloud, network, and application security all need to be incorporated into training strategies that work to educate, inform and advise your employees on the correct procedures.
Hybrid workers have undoubtedly shaped the landscape of the job markets in ways that we've never seen before. Remote workers have helped to provide businesses with enhanced productivity and low turnover rates but it's equally as important to invest in a cybersecurity strategy that has an onus on training.
The implementation of new security procedures specifically related to remote workers is a key fixture in the success of hybrid working models. When businesses choose to invest time, resources, and effort into enhanced cybersecurity training, the statistics show a marked decline in the number of overall targeted cybersecurity attacks.
Ashley Mangtani is a technical writer from the U.K who specializes in Digital Transformation, SaaS, B2B, Cybersecurity, and AI/Metaverse. He's the head taxonomist and glossary technician for WalkMe and has worked as a digital marketing lead for several high-profile clients including McAfee and KPMG. Ashley's background is in creative and digital industries policy, research, and white papers, having worked for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport for six years prior to his freelance writing career.