October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is See Yourself in Cyber, which focuses on the individual’s role in cybersecurity. While cybersecurity can feel complex and inaccessible to the average person, the reality is that everyone has a role to play in security, from executives to the IT team to end users. This month, the JumpCloud blog will focus on helping you empower everyone in your organization to do their part regarding cybersecurity. Tune in throughout the month for more cybersecurity content written specifically for IT professionals and MSPs.
Reprioritization — it’s the natural result of undergoing any major life change. Such was the experience of most office dwellers during the 2020 pandemic lockdowns.
Suddenly, folks had more freedom than ever before to determine when they work, how they work, and where they work (within reason). Do employers really expect workers to give that up?
Apparently, many of them do. According to the Microsoft 2022 Annual Work Trend Index Report, 50% of companies want their employees to work from the office full-time.
Most employers cite productivity as the reason behind the in-house work requirement. Alternatively, 52% of American workers are now prioritizing remote and hybrid work, often citing greater productivity due to enhanced flexibility.
If you’re reading this article, your organization is probably in favor of hybrid work. At JumpCloud, we truly believe the organizations that lay the groundwork for cloud-based work today, will enjoy a competitive advantage in the years to come.
With that said, even forward-thinking companies can feel overwhelmed about how to best secure their hybrid work environments. In this article, we’ll look at the main security challenges present with remote work and the best solutions for achieving more agile and secure workforces.
Challenges of Securing Hybrid Work Environments
In the rush to accommodate evolving remote work policies during the pandemic, many organizations put security on the back burner. Sure, they covered their bases with antivirus software, VPNs, and other best practices.
But many IT admins simply didn’t have the right tools for remotely managing both personal and corporate devices. Below are some of the most common security challenges admins face when transitioning to hybrid work environments:
- Lack of cybersecurity awareness among employees.
- Cloud security risks.
- Unclear or inconsistently enforced cybersecurity policies.
- No control over remote endpoints.
- No physical security and monitoring of virtual workspaces.
- No strong data protection and authentication.
- An increased number of distractions can also turn into cybersecurity threats. For example, malicious social media links can be a gateway into a fully fledged cyberattack.
We can summarize the above challenges into two main categories: identity and access management, and device management. Hybrid work environments create new threats in each of these areas as employees work from diverse and unmanaged networks, requiring access to both on-premise and cloud resources, and using their personal devices for work.
5 Tips for Enhancing Hybrid Work Cybersecurity
As previously mentioned, hybrid work is the future.
With more employees splitting time between working at home and the office, and many of them reporting fully remote locations, protecting organizational data from security breaches has never been more crucial.
To help SMEs and startups chart their way forward, we’ve compiled five simple tips to enhance your network’s security. Follow these tips for a smoother transition to hybrid work:
1. Provide Regular Cybersecurity Training for Employees
It’s crucial to ensure employees are up to date with industry best practices and company security policies. Understandably, security risks aren’t top of mind for most employees. Each person is most focused on their individual duties, departmental objectives, and personal lives. For this reason, it’s not a bad idea to reinforce the initial standards employees signed off on during onboarding.
Regular security training refreshers minimize the risk of attacks stemming from lack of knowledge, procrastination, and unintended oversights. At JumpCloud, our employees engage in cybersecurity training once a quarter.
Some of the most common cybersecurity gateways include phishing emails, password hygiene, physical security, and vulnerable public Wi-Fi networks. Every organization should pay extra attention to these tactics so they don’t get blindsided.
2. Implement Multiple Layers of Security
Prevention is the key to maximum cybersecurity in a hybrid work environment. Having multiple layers of security is an essential aspect of any solid cybersecurity strategy.
Why? Because it makes it harder for attackers to penetrate through your defenses. Ensure that each point of failure is covered. Some of the security measures you can enforce are utilizing full-disk encryption, updating patches (immediately), setting up multi-factor authentication (MFA), and implementing microsegmentation to reduce available attack surfaces.
3. Provide Hybrid Employees with the Right Tools
Ensure employees have access to the tools they need to work comfortably away from the office.
This makes it easier for them to work in line with your cybersecurity rules and policies. It also reduces the need for them to look for unverified and unauthorized tools to do their job. Everything needs to be perfectly aligned to ensure maximum productivity. It makes your workspace safer.
4. Transition to Cloud-Based Solutions and Automate Monitoring
Consider transitioning your IT infrastructure to cloud-based solutions and automating your monitoring.
Physical, on-premise infrastructure makes it difficult to deploy resources and make the necessary upgrades from time to time. It also affects network agility and scalability. You need to plan in advance for any changes because it takes time to order and deploy the hardware.
Not to mention that companies rarely receive IT support from vendors, especially when applications are tailored to meet their unique requirements.
Cloud environments enhance the efficiency, sustainability, functionality, and reliability of your IT infrastructure. Modern cloud solutions for managing hybrid work environments such as the JumpCloud Directory Platform make it easy to oversee identity and access management, push policies, wipe and lock devices, and onboard new employees with single sign-on (SSO).
Once you adopt a hybrid work environment, it may become difficult to respond to numerous requests, endpoints, and incidents. Automation can help relieve the pressure and reduce the risk of human error.
5. Adopt Zero Trust Network Access
Lastly, adopt the Zero Trust security philosophy.
Zero Trust simply means that you trust no one and verify everyone before allowing access to any resources at all levels of employment. It works on the assumption that bad actors are everywhere, including inside your organization.
Therefore, organizations must verify and authenticate all users, devices, and resources. Zero Trust actions allow admins to segment their networks, manage access controls, and authenticate identities with minimal effort.
Streamline CyberSecurity with JumpCloud
When the internet was introduced in the 1980s, the survival of businesses depended on how quickly leaders adopted new technologies. Most companies depended on the office as they needed a centralized place for their employees to access the internet.
But, considering at least 85% of U.S. households have access to broadband internet now, commuting to the office is no longer necessary.
JumpCloud offers cloud-based identity, access, and device management solutions based on a Zero Trust security model. We lay the foundation for a better employee experience that makes hybrid work easier to accomplish without compromising cybersecurity.
With single sign-on, employees immediately gain access to all of their approved applications with one password, removing the need for multiple account creations. On the flip side, admins conveniently gain access to user, device, and account data in one place — it’s a win-win.