How to Secure a Hybrid Workforce from Cyber Threats

The hybrid work model, a combination of office and remote work, has its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest is figuring out how to keep cyber threats at bay. But there are many benefits to providing this work model to your staff. So, let’s look at the common threats and how you can secure your hybrid workforce. 

Common Cyber Threats for the Hybrid Workforce

When employees spend a part of the week working from home and the rest working from the office, they give cybercriminals twice as many chances to launch targeted attacks that exploit vulnerable work environments and human nature itself. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common cyber threats for the hybrid workforce: 

Social Engineering Attacks

Phishing, vishing, and smishing are just three social engineering attacks that hybrid workers encounter regularly. While each delivery method differs, they all share the goal of tricking a victim into doing something against their best interest.  

Example 

Sharing a password or clicking on a link that leads to a fake website. 

Insider Threats

Characterized by their origin from inside the targeted organization, insider threats come from people who have or used to have privileged access to internal resources. Because of their origin, insider threats are difficult to detect using conventional cybersecurity tools. 

Example 

Insider threats may be current employees, former employees, contractors, and even vendors. 

Data Breaches

When all data resides in one centralized and closely guarded location, the risk of a data breach is much lower than when the same data is routinely transferred between the office network and individual home networks of employees who sometimes work from their homes and sometimes from the office. Physical data security also becomes an area of major concern. 

Keeping these and other common cyber threats requires organizations to implement a multi-layered cybersecurity strategy that combines traditional defenses with effective remote work security strategies. 

3 Tips for Securing a Hybrid Workforce from Cyber Threats

The hybrid work model extends the network perimeter beyond the four walls of the office. It includes the employees’ home networks, and the numerous third-party cloud services and infrastructure hybrid workers rely on. 

With such a large and blurry network perimeter to secure, organizations must adopt a completely new approach security approach because traditional approaches leave too many holes for cybercriminals to sneak through. 

1. Adopt a Zero Trust Security Approach

Traditional security approaches revolve around security perimeters. A security perimeter can be, for example, the office. The idea is that all devices located inside the security perimeter can be trusted by default. 

But as we’ve mentioned, the hybrid work model makes the network perimeter exceedingly difficult to define because it extends it way beyond the office LAN, including:  

  • Cloud-based services and infrastructure. 
  • Remote and mobile environments. 
  • IoT devices and other non-conventional IT assets.

     

Enter Zero Trust data security, sometimes known as perimeterless security. As the name suggests, this model is rooted in the following three principles: 

  1. Verify explicitly. 
  2. Use least privileged access. 
  3. Assume breach.

     

In practice, Zero Trust security means that every access request must be fully authenticated and authorized before being approved. This helps to prevent attackers from infiltrating a remote endpoint and using it to move laterally on the network. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for adopting a Zero Trust security approach. We recommend small organizations that don’t have experience with it partner with a managed IT services provider to borrow the expertise and skills. 

2. Reinforce Your Employee Security Training Program

The EY Global Information Security Survey (EY GISS) revealed that 39 percent of executives consider careless or unaware employees their top vulnerability to a cyber attack. This statistic is hardly surprising. Why?  

Because two out of our top three hybrid workforce cyber threats directly involve employees. But you can’t expect employees to know how to recognize and defend themselves against increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.  

Instead, organizations should proactively reinforce their employee security training program with common cybersecurity risks associated with moving between the home office and the actual office. That way, it’s possible to turn employees from the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain into the strongest one. 

How to Create a Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program Ebook

Learn how to implement an engaging and successful cybersecurity awareness training program.

Additionally, employees can take action to keep cyber threats at bay by securing their home office, too.  

3. Implement the Right Technology

There are many technological solutions that can be implemented to increase the security of hybrid workers and the entire organization along with them, including: 

Virtual Private Network

Hybrid workers typically need to access the main office network and cloud applications remotely. However, they may not always be within the range of a trustworthy Wi-Fi network.  

A virtual private network (VPN) creates an encrypted tunnel that sensitive data can go through – without being stolen by an unauthorized third party. 

Multi-Factor Authentication 

If there’s one technology whose implementation pays dividends, it’s multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA uses more than one verification factor to gain access to a protected resource.  

According to Microsoft, MFA blocks up to 99.9 percent of automated attacks, so not using it is akin to knowingly leaving the front door wide open. 

Full-disk Encryption

When employees work from more than one location, their work devices typically travel with them, increasing the risk of device theft and the resulting data breach. Full-disk encryption can’t prevent an opportunistic thief from snatching an unattended laptop. However, it does make it impossible to extract valuable data from it. 

Whenever an organization implements a new technology solution to strengthen its cybersecurity posture, it should support its adoption and use with updated policies and employee training. 

Protecting Your Hybrid Workforce 

The hybrid work model is an integral part of operations for most organizations. That’s why it’s so it’s important to secure it from dangerous cyber threats. 

If you’re looking for someone to help you implement the hybrid workforce tips described in this article, Teal can help. Our diverse portfolio of services and solutions allows us to meet a wide range of needs, and we would be happy to hear how we can help. 

Teal offers responsive and secure managed IT services to SMBs nationally, with local business IT solutions provided in: 

Contact a Teal business technology advisor today. 

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