Hybrid work is officially here to stay. Around 76% of companies say they’re now shifting to a hybrid work strategy in their organisation, and only 11% say they’re returning to the office full-time.
On the one hand, the shift to hybrid work can be a powerful thing for many growing organisations.
Allowing employees to explore a blend of in-office and remote working strategies means your team members can access the best possible environments for productivity, no matter what their tasks might be. Hybrid work can also improve engagement levels for staff members, reduce the risk of staff turnover, and minimise office overheads.
On the other hand, more distributed employees mean more potential cyber-security risks to worry about. With team members logging into networks and tools from all over the world, it can be a lot harder for IT technicians to keep track of potential threats.
The question is, how do you protect your team and data in the age of hybrid work?
The first step for a lot of companies will be shifting their business operations and technology into a cloud environment.
Although the cloud hasn’t always had the best reputation for security, the reality is that most companies embracing a hybrid work strategy will need to be reliant on cloud solutions to some extent. Choosing the right ecosystem for business productivity and communication will help to strengthen the security standing of your organisation.
For instance, making the shift into a UCaaS environment where you can set strict policies for data management, and even choose where back-up data is stored can be an excellent first step. UCaaS solutions from leading vendors typically come with security tools built-in, including end-to-end encryptions for all your calls and interactions.
Some high-end solutions can even be enhanced with state-of-the-art new technologies like AI-enhanced fraud identification tools, which can use a person’s voice to determine if they are who they claim to be, or not.
On the simplest level, a UCaaS environment will combine multiple components of your communication technology stack into one environment. This reduces the strain on the IT team to track a multitude of different environments for signs of potential attack vectors.
For those shifting into the age of hybrid work, it’s important to consider just how significant issues like ransomware and malware have become. Between the ages of 2020 and 2021, the number of ransomware attacks in the UK alone doubled.
When accessing business tools from a range of different devices and environments, hybrid employees are at greater risk of being exposed to potential instances of spyware, malware, or even phishing attacks. With this in mind, companies need to ensure they have the right backup strategy in place, to protect their data if anything should go wrong.
While the right backup process will vary depending on your business, most experts believe the best solution involves a 3-2-1 strategy. This involves keeping three copies of the essential media you need in different environments. One of the most important locations to choose for a back-up is an “off-site” storage location, either provided by a managed service provider, or delivered in the cloud.
Off-site data backups provide access to a simple and scalable system of recovery which exists completely disconnected from your business network. In the age of ransomware, where a criminal could potentially stop you from accessing your entire network and technology landscape, an off-site back-up will give you another way to reach the information you need.
Once you’ve got the right technology in place for managing the flow of data in your business (with UCaaS), and you’ve implemented a comprehensive backup strategy, with an off-site backup located in the cloud, the next step is upgrading your security policies with a new focus on hybrid work.
Assess your current environment and ask yourself how often you need to ensure your information is being backed up and synchronised in your cloud environment. Do you need to implement automated backups, so you don’t have to rely exclusively on your team members to remember to save their work and crucial data recordings on a regular basis?
Think about what kind of data you need to be regularly saving too. For instance, you might want to automatically store all of the information collected through your CCaaS or contact center conversations. But do you need to have a way of storing conversations shared between employees on applications like Teams too?
When upgrading your security policies, make sure you think about things like:
· Authentication and access control: What kind access control tools are you going to put in place to keep your data secured? Can you implement multi-factor authentication measures to ensure that even if a criminal gains access to an employee’s device, they can’t see their data?
· Disaster recovery: When an issue does happen with your data or back-ups, what your disaster recovery strategies? Who should be informed straight away, and how will you get your organisation back up and running as quickly as possible?
· Security management: How often will your IT team be responsible for checking the technology ecosystem for threats, or rolling out patches to help hybrid workers remain secure?
The unfortunate truth is that 88% of security breaches are caused by human error. There are also countless situations wherein your employees might accidentally delete some important information you can’t afford to lose, or corrupt a file you need for compliance purposes.
You can start to fight back against this issue by providing your team members with the correct training. Ensure everyone in your hybrid workforce has all the information they need to keep their data secure and protected wherever they might be working from. This includes teaching staff how to distinguish a secure connection, from an unsecure network.
While training your team, make sure they’re aware of how often they should be backing up information and syncing their data to the wider company, regardless of where they’re working from. It’s also worth making sure your team members know where to turn and seek help if they ever do encounter an issue with back-ups, or a security attack.
Automation is emerging as one of the most powerful new tools in the technology landscape for a reason. Ultimately, companies moving into a new age of hybrid and remote work have a lot of different factors to keep track of at any given moment. It’s easy to let something slip through the cracks which could end up harming your security standing.
A digital-first approach to security with automation could be a great way to keep your threat level to a minimum. Consider automating regular backups for all of your team members, just in case they forget to save all the right data.
It’s also worth setting up automated alerts and notifications in your security system to let you know when suspicious activity could be going on behind the scenes. Monitoring tools with machine learning capabilities can assess your security systems regularly, and inform you as soon as something looks like it might be out of order.
Staying secure and protected in the age of hybrid work will take some practice for any business. However, as the number of attacks continues to increase, it’s never been more important to ensure you’re prepared. Make sure you back up and protect your data this year.