Cybersecurity in a Post-Pandemic Hybrid Working Environment

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Cybersecurity in a Post-Pandemic Hybrid Working Environment

Many workforces around the world are either preparing for or already in the midst of their return to work. Whether employees return full-time, part-time, or remain completely remote following the pandemic, cybersecurity teams have a new challenge – how to safeguard their organization and workforce in a hybrid working environment.

Employees around the world have faced a slew of security challenges as remote working became the norm in the last year, but the world may soon be shifting back to on-site employment. One thing is certain – no one-size-fits-all solution is available. The recent large-scale breaches show how attacks can manifest in such hybrid setups, where staff is dispersed around the globe. The result can be devastating.

Systems that had previously been detached from the corporate network’s robust security are now becoming more interconnected. When corporate devices are used for personal purposes, the safeguards in place at the office to deter personal device abuse have practically collapsed. These devices are again re-entering the corporate network, posing serious security risk.

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And that’s only the beginning. Employee attitudes have altered, as has the way teams communicate. In addition, new people are joining teams. So, as they transition to a hybrid workforce, what should cybersecurity teams focus on?

Vulnerability management

Vulnerability management is an important element of the return-to-work security checklist, as employees have been working remotely for over a year, and their corporate devices have been connected to remote networks.

Cybersecurity teams must ensure that all devices re-entering the corporate network are cleaned up.  Cybersecurity teams should also look into the overall security posture of these devices to ensure that the employees aren’t bringing malware back onto the network that could jeopardize the company’s systems.

Asset management, asset reconfiguration, asset control, and ensuring that all devices are updated and patched all require a significant amount of effort.

Identifying and addressing changes in employee behavior

Employees have been working outside of the office for some time, and this has resulted in a natural shift in behavior. The security behaviors of many employees have most likely shifted and also become laxer.

New training efforts are required for these new potentially dangerous behaviors. Cyber security teams must design new policies for this new hybrid environment, which must then be reinforced with security and awareness training that is aligned with the new behaviors and cultures being witnessed.

Maintaining collaboration

The transition to remote working as a result of the pandemic has driven employees all around the world to develop new ways to collaborate with one other, third parties, suppliers, and customers. This change has shown to be extremely beneficial to companies in terms of business continuity – but now security teams have to find a way for it to happen safely on an ongoing basis.

Companies must be aware of all new applications, channels, and services used by employees that could be used as a new attack vector. This does not mean locking down systems and preventing new methods of working from emerging, it means organizations must be aware of them and secure them.

New employees, new Threats

Finally, we must consider the hazards that new employees may pose. To begin with, new employees are easy prey for social engineering and phishing scams. They haven’t met many people yet, and they may not have completed the organization’s security training.

There’s also the question of physical security issues to consider. Because so many new employees were employed throughout the pandemic without meeting any of the team members, it’s possible that no one will recognize new faces in the office. This makes it easier for unwanted guests to get access to the office, posing a serious security issue.

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There is no one-size-fits-all solution

Organizations encounter a variety of security issues when they return to office and there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Modifying security protocols to match how people work today can help organizations safeguard their users and strengthen their defenses. To prevent today’s catastrophes, people, processes, and technology must all be strengthened as part of a people-centric security strategy.

Employees must be trained on the sophisticated attacks that can be discovered in the wild. End-user vulnerability should be assessed, and end-user training on today’s threats should be provided, with concrete skills for safeguarding themselves in the workplace, at remote environments, and in a hybrid environment.

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