How to secure hybrid work environments

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The shift to hybrid work setups, where employees work both remotely and in the office, has brought about a range of benefits for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). However, this new way of working has also introduced a number of security challenges that can leave SMBs vulnerable to attack.

To ensure that your hybrid work environment is equipped to protect your business data and operations, follow these essential steps.

Establish clear acceptable use policies

With employees working both inside and outside the office, it’s important to clearly communicate your expectations regarding the proper use of company devices and resources. 

Establish and enforce policies that outline acceptable behavior, data handling guidelines, and consequences for policy violations. Doing so will help ensure that employees are aware of the security risks associated with hybrid work and how to prevent them.

Secure remote access

Hybrid work requires the use of remote access solutions to connect to your business network from anywhere. While these solutions offer a convenient way for remote workers to access the tools and information they need, remote access can also serve as a gateway for malicious actors to gain access to your network.

To protect against this, require your employees to use a virtual private network when connecting to the network remotely. This will encrypt the data sent between their computer and your network, making it harder for attackers to intercept or access. Setting up multifactor authentication will further secure remote connections.

Implement identity and access management (IAM)

Managing user identities and access privileges across multiple systems can be complex in a hybrid work environment. Implementing an IAM solution streamlines user management and ensures that only authorized personnel have access to the network, applications, and data. Additionally, IAM solutions allow you to monitor user activity and detect suspicious behaviors, giving you greater visibility into your hybrid setup.

Deploy endpoint security solutions

Endpoints such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets are often the first targets for attackers. To protect these devices, deploy robust endpoint security solutions, including anti-malware, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. These tools are designed to detect and prevent malicious activities on endpoints and protect your network from potential threats.

Prioritize data backup and recovery

Data loss is a major threat in hybrid work environments. To ensure that your data is safe and recoverable in the event of an attack or a disaster, prioritize regular backups. Automate backup processes to make them easier to manage and ensure that you have multiple copies of your data stored in separate physical locations.

Additionally, consider investing in a cloud-based backup solution for added redundancy and security. Don’t forget to test your backup and recovery processes regularly to make sure they’re working as expected.

Update software and install patches

Many cyberattacks target known vulnerabilities in outdated software applications and operating systems, as well as unpatched security holes. Secure your network by regularly updating and patching your software applications, operating systems, and hardware devices. Deploy an automated patch management solution to streamline the update process and minimize the risk of missed patches.

Educate employees on cybersecurity best practices

Your employees are the first line of defense against cyberthreats. Teach them about the risks of hybrid work, how to recognize suspicious activity, and what steps to take if they encounter a security incident. By providing them with proper cybersecurity education and training, you empower them to make informed decisions and protect your network from potentially devastating attacks.

Related reading: Your guide to the best technologies for managing hybrid teams in 2023

Implementing the strategies outlined above is an excellent starting point for fortifying your hybrid work environment. However, keep in mind that cybersecurity is an ongoing endeavor. As new threats emerge, you must adapt your security measures to remain ahead of the curve. 

Working with a trusted managed IT services provider like Refresh Technologies can help you stay up to date with the latest security technologies and best practices. Our team of experts will ensure that your hybrid network is secure, compliant, and protected against any potential threats. Contact us today to learn more.