As businesses return to the office from COVID-19 lockdowns, more than 40% of employers expect their employees to work from home on a regular basis. How they manage a hybrid workforce is an on-going challenge.
The shift toward permanent remote work creates challenges in maintaining IT security. But there is good news. Having employees in the office at least some of the time gives IT departments more control over how devices access the company network.
Here are some ways you can adapt your company’s IT infrastructure to a hybrid workforce.
Connect Remote Workers via VPNs and Firewalls
Having employees divide their time between home and office increases the number of network endpoints. This creates more opportunities for cyber-attacks to exploit any security weaknesses.
The key to IT stability in a hybrid work environment is managing IT hardware assets. Employees may have used personal devices to work from home during lockdowns. But permanent remote workers should use secure company-owned devices. This can include tablets and mobile phones as well as laptops.
Configure devices to apply patches automatically. And block outdated devices from accessing the network. How can you do this?
Employees should only have remote access to company files and applications via a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN creates a secure tunnel to protect traffic between the company network and the employee. This will prevent hackers from intercepting sensitive information.
Control remote access to the network by combining a VPN with a firewall. A strong firewall will block unauthorised connections and limit attacks.
Introduce Multi-Factor Authentication
The potential for loss or theft increases as employees move devices between locations. There is also more of a chance that passwords could become compromised.
Remote workers should use two-factor or multi-factor authentication (MFA) to connect to the network. Why? Using more than one layer of security reduces the likelihood that anyone other than the employee will gain access. MFA can cut the risk of a login becoming compromised by as much as 99.9% compared with using passwords alone.
Adopt Cloud-Based Applications
Emails can be easily intercepted. They can also spread phishing attacks. Cloud security offers a safer way for employees to share information.
The most secure way for remote workers to share files and collaborate with colleagues is through cloud-based applications. Services like OneDrive, Slack, and Zoom allow employees to access files, send instant messages, and hold video calls. Many cloud-based providers offer affordable solutions for small businesses.
Provide Cyber Security Training
It is crucial that remote workers in particular receive cybersecurity training. They should understand the importance of good password hygiene. Your company’s IT security policy should require employees to use unique passwords. They should also change them regularly.
Employees should be well trained in how to identify phishing attacks. Why? Phishing is the most common way for hackers to deploy malware on a network. Around 56% of business leaders view phishing as the main cyber threat to their business. And around 49% have seen more network security incidents during the pandemic.
Training remote workers on how to respond to phishing attacks can save your business time and money in avoiding serious disruptions.
Adapt Your IT Security to a Hybrid Workforce
Shifting to a mix of remote and office-based work presents opportunities and challenges for most IT operations.
At Signals IT, we provide a full range of IT lifecycle services, whether your employees are remote workers or office-based. Contact us to find out how we can help you ensure you have the right IT security in place for your hybrid workforce.