How to secure remote access for the hybrid workplace
As the hybrid model combines the best of both physical workplace and remote workforce, it is slowly becoming the dominant workplace model. A recent survey indicates that 44% of employees and 63% of organizations favor a hybrid work schedule. For employees, hybrid work means less commute, better work-life balance and a comfortable and favorable work environment that is most conducive to productivity. For companies, it means less office rent, supplies, and other business expenses. Though the hybrid work model comes with many benefits, it has its share of shortcomings and the most important of them is security. Remote workers are more vulnerable to viruses, malware, spyware attacks than those working in the office kept secure by a dedicated IT team. Any compromise on business-critical information may result in huge financial implications, loss of credibility and lawsuits.
Any organization that is serious about delivering a safe, seamless, and efficient hybrid work experience to all their employees should consider all the cybersecurity measures discussed below.
1. Cybersecurity policies
Companies will have to enact strict and uniform policies for remote workers engaged in productive work to prevent any data breaches. This should include the number of apps to be used, minimum level access for individuals, data backup, storage of confidential information and service level agreements with third-party vendors.
2. VPN Access
It is always advisable to provide secure access through VPNs for all the remote employees who log in through devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and stand-alone workstations. A VPN connection provides a safe and secure connection to all your enterprise applications and data using an encrypted tunnel.
3. Two-factor authentication
The communication and collaboration tools that are used by the remote workers must be equipped with security features that can protect the company against any spyware and malware attacks. All these tools must be equipped with two-factor authentication combined with strong encryption. Employees should be encouraged to change their password periodically and they should not be allowed to use the same password across multiple tools and platforms.
4. Cybersecurity framework
Since cyberattacks on business devices are on the rise, whether you are a small business or a Fortune 500 company, you will have to deploy enterprise-grade endpoint identification and protection software. These tools can perform system integrity checks and identify systems that are potentially at risk of getting infected or attacked. They go beyond the usual commercial anti-virus and in case of any suspicious activities or viruses, malware, spyware, trojan attack, they allow admins to perform investigation and remediation against threats. Enterprise-grade endpoint security tools make it easy for your IT teams to easily respond to security incidents and alerts.
5. Remote access tools
There are a lot of commercial tools available in the market for remote patching, repairing, and diagnostics. email management strategies. Using these tools, your internal IT teams can take complete control of the end-user system, remotely troubleshoot, and fix security issues before they become a threat to your business.
6. Enact collaboration security
Companies are relying on communication and collaboration applications such as Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams to support their remote workforce. Though it is generally believed that these tools have inherent cybersecurity protections they are not sufficient. While companies like Slack and Zoom have been steadily beefing up the security, it is still not enough. Every company must do their assessment and add more security before implementing these security tools and platforms.
7. Adopt a zero-trust model
Zero-trust is a model and an architecture that protects enterprise applications and data by allowing access to only those devices and resources that have been explicitly granted permission as per the cybersecurity policy. This zero-trust model has been gaining popularity since the lockdown and it is expected that more than 60% of the companies will be adopting the zero-trust model by the end of 2022.
8. AWS protection for Cloud applications
Hosting your application in AWS is one of the best ways to meet all the core security and compliance requirements like data protection, identity & access management, network & application protection, threat detection & continuous monitoring, compliance & data privacy. AWS provides services that help you protect your data, accounts, and workloads from unauthorized access. AWS data protection services provide encryption and key management and threat detection that continuously monitors and protects your accounts and workloads. Some of the leading communication tools like Slack, Zoom and Clariti are hosted in AWS
Implementing the above measures will help companies to protect business-critical information and prevent data breaches. It will also help companies to ward off any security challenges from the hybrid workforce who are working from various locations. Failing to implement any of these measures, companies could face huge financial losses besides losing brand value and reputation. As the era of hybrid work culture has just heralded, it is now time for companies to come up with a strong IT security framework to not just survive but also thrive in the new normal.