Four Key Factors for Maintaining a Secure Hybrid Work Environment

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Four Key Factors for Maintaining a Secure Hybrid Work Environment

As businesses struggle to adapt to this new world of hybrid work, companies that embrace the new perimeter and standardize their efforts around robust and manageable solutions to secure their assets – both human and digital – regardless of location will gain a competitive advantage.

For many businesses, hybrid work has become the standard. In fact, according to Mercer’s “The Flexible Working Policies & Practices Survey” from 2021, out of 510 companies with flexible work programs, 70 percent aim to implement a hybrid work model. While the new work-from-anywhere revolution gives employees greater freedom, it also raises serious security risks for IT departments.

As businesses establish remote work policies, it’s becoming painfully obvious that many tried-and-true security blueprints no longer work. Asset tags, perimeter firewalls, badges, and network segmentation are insufficient to safeguard the dispersed workforce as employees increasingly travel from the workplace to their homes and everywhere in between.

While these tried-and-true on-premises strategies won’t work in a remote office, the good news is that the security concerns haven’t altered substantially. IT teams simply need to adjust the tools and security solutions they use to maintain a strong security posture. These security problems can be simply mapped back to four core controls for any IT team struggling with this transformation.

Creating an accurate inventory

The creation and maintenance of an accurate list of physical and software assets is the first step in securing a hybrid work environment. The inventory process for a company should be easy for end-users regardless of their location, and it should not necessitate a constant connection to the corporate network.

The optimal inventory solution will integrate with the asset purchasing process, allowing for automatic asset tracking. Furthermore, the solution should frequently send changes to a central interface so that the team can work with accurate data.

Finally, the solution should identify assets that are failing to report in a timely manner so that the team can take corrective action. If the IT department is calling users to verify asset tags and using a spreadsheet to track installed software, they are likely missing many assets and leaving them vulnerable to security threats. IT and security teams are powerless to defend assets they are unaware of. As a result, it’s critical to keep track of all physical and software assets.

Verifying the identity of device users

In any security posture, single sign-on (SSO) solutions that interact with the operating system and use robust multifactor authentication should be necessary. Passwords have become the weakest link in any authentication chain due to password reuse and the constant deluge of data breaches that leverage compromised login credentials. Many out-of-date security procedures leave businesses only as safe as their most recent password change.

SSO systems with enforced multi-factor authentication can assist solve this problem by allowing IT staff to see who is attempting to access the company’s devices, programs, and data at all times.

Managing secure endpoint configuration

When working, end-users require access to data on devices, regardless of their physical location. In a remote world, any vulnerability in data or device security can be exploited by hackers. With an eroding perimeter and a limited dependence on network security solutions, IT teams should emphasize endpoint security.

Enterprises must verify that all devices with access to company data are deployed with certified hardened settings to secure sensitive data. Deploying a secure configuration once isn’t enough; if an organization’s configuration management solution isn’t constantly verifying and enforcing that configuration whenever the device is online, end-users can install software or make changes that expose the data on those devices during their workday.

Support changing needs of the users

Change is required for business growth. Users can’t just walk up to a help desk to get help in the remote work model. Software must still be deployed, updates must be installed, system settings must be changed, and remote help should be available when needed. If IT teams are unable to assist employees remotely, they will attempt to work around their problems, resulting in major security vulnerabilities such as shadow IT.

Making sure employees are satisfied with their devices and using the latest software and corporate-approved settings will ensure a uniform degree of security across the organization.

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