5 Steps to Secure Your Hybrid Workers

Patchwork solutions aren’t the answer—it will take a new approach to address critical challenges in the new workplace.

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More than a year later, many organizations recognize that the hybrid workforce model here to stay. The level of disruption this shift has caused the average person is noticeable, but the impact it has had on network, security, compliance, and other teams in the average organization is even more so.

The traditional security perimeter has expanded dramatically, even beyond the adaptation to cloud services, and security teams are expected to extend protection to large numbers of unmanaged endpoints.

During the pandemic, the threat landscape continued to evolve. According to the October 2021 Hybrid Work Index, among Cisco’s customers:

  • The number of remote mobile devices daily accessing work networks increased 4x between May 2020 and April 2021.
  • While VPN and remote access grew by 1.5X at the start of the pandemic, malicious remote access attempts grew by 2.4X over the same period. 
  • The hybrid workforce was targeted with more than 100 million email threats daily.

This underscores the importance of security infrastructures that keep work accessible to the right users and out of reach of fraudulent actors. 

Critical inflection point

Businesses need to create a flexible, safe, and secure hybrid work environment with employees moving on and off network with similar levels of protection. The shift to hybrid work is a unique opportunity to jumpstart business and security strategies to truly support the digital-first world. Cybersecurity should be the bridge that enables organizations to reach their full potential.

Patchwork solutions aren’t the answer—it’s going to take a new approach to address critical challenges, including unsecure connections, compromised credentials, limited or no visibility or control from the Internet to the endpoint, and shortages of skills, resources, and time.

Cisco suggests five steps that every organizations should take to increase their security profile in the hybrid work environment:

  1. Educate your workforce on common tactics and encourage a culture of security. Just as they can be a liability, people can be the strongest link in any defense.
  1. Implement multifactor authentication (MFA) as an important step towards Zero Trust.Grant the minimum access needed after verifying user identity.
  1. Build security into the way users access information, leveraging the cloud whenever possible. A distributed workforce requires dynamic security. Consider a SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) approach to secure application access and maintain environment safety wherever your users are.
  1. Secure email against advanced threats. Moving email to the cloud provides convenience and scalability, but it also brings an increased risk of account takeovers and malware.
  1. Maintain a first and last line of defense with DNS and endpoint security. The first layer blocks domains associated with malicious behavior before they get into your network, while the last layer protects against more advanced threats.

With the shift to a hybrid workforce, network and security teams need to provide seamless and secure access to applications and services, anywhere and anytime. That’s going to take a platform approach that unifies data, analytics and automation across endpoints, network, and cloud.

Whether your business is working in person, remotely, or a combination of the two, learn more about the Cisco Secure Hybrid Work Solution.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.