Hybrid Work Security: Why a Proactive Approach is Key
Despite the concerted effort some corporations are making for a back-to-office push, the fact of the matter is that most will likely retain the hybrid approach indefinitely. Indeed, most workers today have become quite averse to the idea of full-time in-office work, and odds are that won’t be changing anytime soon.
But, while this new way of working certainly poses a long list of advantages, it isn’t entirely without challenges. And chief among those challenges is the cost to organizations’ security. So, in this blog post, we’re going to take a look at the unique security challenges presented by hybrid work, and offer some advice on how organizations can overcome them.
CISOs Agree: Hybrid Work Hampers Security Posture
In our inaugural report that surveyed CISOs from the US and UK earlier this year, two critical trends emerged. First and foremost, the survey shows that while hybrid work is undoubtedly the “new normal” for most organizations — with 63% of CISOs saying they anticipate most employees at their organization to have a hybrid work schedule in three years’ time — that new normal comes with serious security implications.
In our survey, a whopping 72% of respondents agreed that hybrid and remote work had a negative impact on their organization’s security posture. And for 29% of them, that negative impact was significant (rated as either a “high” or “very high negative impact”).
The connection between hybrid work and a compromised security posture begins with the absence of the traditional security perimeter. With an unknown number of managed and unmanaged devices regularly accessing an organization’s sensitive assets, at any time and from practically anywhere poses no shortage of challenges. And in many ways, this essential disconnect is the most fundamental, pressing challenge facing CISOs today.
So, with hybrid work undoubtedly here to stay, what can organizations do to keep their digital assets secure, without compromising the productivity of their workforce?
A Proactive Approach Begins with Security Awareness Training
According to Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, human error plays a role in over three quarters of all data breaches. Indeed, many of today’ latest and most advanced cyberattacks still rely on social engineering in order to prove successful.
For these reasons, it’s imperative that organizations offer consistent, proactive security awareness training (SAT) for all of their employees. This training should include how to identify and avoid phishing attacks, how to strengthen passwords, and the use of two-factor authentication. The training should also cover how to securely work remotely, including the use of a VPN, how to secure home Wi-Fi networks, and how to avoid insecure file-sharing services. In order to remain effective, SAT should be conducted regularly, and should be regularly updated to reflect the latest strategies and threats.
Effective Policies Promote Security from the Top Down
While training is an essential, bottom-up strategy for securing a hybrid workforce, an equally essential, top-down strategy is implementing and enforcing effective security policies. The most important of these policies can be summarized as access control.
Access control policies should be implemented to regulate who can access company information and when. Access to sensitive data should be restricted to authorized personnel only. Employee access should be based on their job roles and responsibilities. This will help to minimize the risk of insider threats and ensure that employees only have the access they need to do their job. The ‘principle of least privilege’ states that an employee should only be given access to the bare minimum number of assets necessary for him or her to do their job, and no more.
Access control is only one aspect of effective security policies. Additional proactive policy measures include things like:
- URL white-listing and black-listing
- Policies mandating regular password updates
- Policies mandating minimum password complexity
- Policies prohibiting or limiting the copying and/or sharing of sensitive assets
- Policies ensuring software is kept up-to-date and patched
However, it’s important to remember that a policy is only effective if reliably enforced. And to this end, security leaders must invest in the right tools and technologies needed to implement and enforce these policies.
Hybrid Work Runs on Web Browsing
It wasn’t long ago that web browsing was a largely leisure-time activity best avoided in the workplace. Today, however, web browsing has taken on an increasingly central role —- effectively serving as the operating system on which we run remote work. The average knowledge worker now spends the lion’s share of their workday in a web browser. We email, chat, draft memos, conduct research, develop presentations, submit expense reports, and so much more, all within the confines of our preferred web browser.
With the proliferation of web-enabled SaaS applications and the web browser’s newfound role as the “operating system” on which we run remote work, web browsing has quickly become a leading target for the malicious actors of the world.
This largely unsecured and expanding attack surface has left CISOs scrambling for ways to shore up their defenses in the new normal. Indeed, insecure browsing now ranks as CISOs #1 security concern in the age of remote and hybrid work. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of organizations have suffered a browsing-based attack within the past year. For these reasons, an effective hybrid work security strategy must begin with a secure browsing solution.
Red Access Makes Hybrid Work Security Simple
A proactive approach to hybrid work security is crucial for every organization. Companies need to develop security policies, implement access controls, conduct security awareness training, and secure the rapidly expanding browsing attack surface to remain secure in today’s day and age. Adopting these measures will help to minimize the risk of data breaches, phishing scams, spoofing attacks, and other cybersecurity threats.
However, there’s no reason to go it alone. Thankfully, today’s CISOs have solutions at hand that will help to ensure your hybrid workforce remains secure, with minimal effort and minimal overhead.
By securing every web session, Red Access keeps your hybrid workforce secure where it matters most. Red Access lets you easily set and enforce effective secure browsing policies, all without compromising the end-user experience, or saddling your administrators with cumbersome end-point agents.
Don’t take our word for it. Start your free trial today and see how Red Access makes hybrid work security a snap.