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Hybrid Working Environments Will Mean Increased Data Vulnerability

While the world strives to prevent further spread of COVID-19 and variants, organizations are making extraordinary modifications for staff to work remotely. More and more employees are working off-site full-time or part-time as new technologies allow them to connect with colleagues and clients from across the globe. The days of working exclusively in a central office location may be long gone for some.

Hybrid remote working is the new normal. It boosts productivity and staff retention, reduces business overhead, and is good for the environment. Since COVID, research suggests that over 80% of professionals work remotely at least once per week. However, just one person can compromise the security integrity of the entire organization if they don't follow the necessary security protocols.

Understanding the security challenges of a mobile workforce is critical.

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BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), insecure hardware, software misuse, and public Wi-Fi networks are common security threats. Plus, data breaches are a costly, serious concern. Authorities issue big fines for flouting regulations, like the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Employees who work remotely are exposed to greater risks than employees who work on company's premises. The implementation of appropriate procedures and increasing the level of security minimize the risks that arise from working remotely.

Most employees who work remotely are connected to home network infrastructures that are not verified by IT specialists in terms of ensuring security. Failure to provide adequate security makes it easier to break into the network with corporate devices. It happens when employees use unsecured devices. This allows hackers to eavesdrop and intercept information that is usually unencrypted.

That’s why it’s important to ensure employees connect safely to their home network. Employees working remotely should connect via Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and the IT equipment they use should have the latest operating system and updated antivirus software.

Company computers used by employees should have minimum security levels implemented by IT specialists. These levels include:

  • Up-to-date operating system
  • Two-factor authentication to the system
  • Antivirus software
  • Additional security for company e-mail accounts
A woman at a desk with a PC monitor in a video meeting showing 4 other people

Furthermore, each employee should also use encrypted USB drives. Such removable drive solutions allow for the safe storage of data processed by employees while working remotely.

Thanks to the implementation of encrypted USB drives, company data is secure while offering immediate access. Data stored on encrypted USB storage devices is automatically protected. In the event of data theft, it cannot be accessed by unauthorized people.

Another important security feature is a firewall that protects devices from external threats. It allows users to prevent viruses or leaks of the information being processed. The greater the number of additional security measures, the less likely it is for hackers to breach security.

The use of data loss prevention (DLP) software in conjunction with VPNs and encrypted USBs all come together to help mitigate risks when it comes to data. Data protection and cybersecurity can feel like an onerous responsibility. However, the right tools make remote working easy, safe, and secure – and they are inexpensive to implement. Especially when considered in relation to the potential monetary and reputational cost of a breach or loss of data.

Success with data protection and security also requires a cultural and behavioral shift within an organization. Staff must understand why the rules are there instead of being instructed to follow the protocols blindly. Successful security infrastructure must enable – not inhibit – efficiency in the workforce. Otherwise, staff will cut corners and search for workarounds, making set security measures useless and rendering company data vulnerable.

With the flexibility that working from home provides, not everyone is going to be available at the same time. Time is a shared resource as employees balance working from home with their personal lives. Both employees and employers must be flexible in adapting to each other. With increased efficiencies, the maintaining or exceeding productivity means performance, work and business can continue delivering quality results.

Yes, the ways in which we work have changed, but with companies adapting to these new challenges for the foreseeable future, the changes can be for the better.

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