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The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought unprecedented changes into the lives of working people. A study revealed that about 82% of respondents accepted that they like to work from home rather than working at the office. The trend of working remotely, which was once enforced on the employees due to the pandemic, has become a new and preferred method of working.This ecosystem is gaining more popularity among the employees because they are closer to their family, have stronger work relationships, enhanced productivity, no commuting to the office and have better mental and physical health.

 

 

Over 70% of employees want a hybrid remote work option to carry on, and 66% of business decision-makers are thinking of redesigning the physical spaces to help accommodate the flexible work environment as per Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index. But with pros, there also comes some cons. It is at times difficult to collaborate with remote workers due to various reasons such as poor connectivity or misinterpretation of information. Another reason is, that though employees prefer working remotely, it may not be possible in all industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and agriculture. But the biggest difficulty faced by companies is to protect data breach due to remote work culture.

 

Understanding the data security risks in a hybrid ecosystem

A study by Ponemon Institute shows that the number of records that were compromised or jeopardized by data breaches in the year 2020 increased by nearly 10%, which is the biggest single-year increase in cost in the past seven years. This is around the same time covid-19 affected companies and health of their employees was at risk, which led the companies to adopt remote and hybrid work models. However, the safety of the employees came at the cost of compromised data security. The average global cost of a data breach, which was $3.83 million in 2020, shot up to an all-time high of $4.24 million in the year 2021.

 

While malicious outsiders contribute to most of the lost data records and enterprise security risks, workers who are negligent have led to an increase of 47% insider threats between 2018 and 2020. Employees who work out of coffee shops or other remote working areas can at times (even by accident) leave crucial information unprotected which gives hackers the opportunity to hack into the systems and collect sensitive data. These negligent employees create 62% of accidents relating to security breach which costs $307,111 per accident. Therefore, finding ways to secure data in a hybrid system has become of utmost importance.

 

Safeguarding data in the hybrid ecosystem

To keep up with today’s workplace trends, enterprises must urgently take measures to keep data breaches under control. To do so, they can take a variety of steps, such as:

1.     Security Awareness Training

Not many employees are well-versed with security practices that are required to sustain a remote or hybrid working environment. Therefore, proper training in cybersecurity awareness should be a top priority. All the employees of an organization should be made aware of their responsibilities when it comes to protecting their organization’s as well as client’s data and complying with the data security and privacy laws issued by regulators.

2.     Zero Trust Model

Rather than assuming that everything is safe behind a corporate firewall, the model of zero trust assumes every request as a potential breach and verifies it as though it has originated from an open network. Every request that comes through is authenticated, encrypted, and authorized before it is given access. Intelligent analytics is used to detect and respond to any anomalies in real-time.

 

  1. Secure Data in Cloud

Ways of achieving better security in remote and hybrid work ecosystems are relatively limited. Providers of cloud services have improved their standards of security. As a result, more companies are feeling comfortable about storing their sensitive data in a cloud repository. As more applications are shifting to the cloud, there is less needed to keep going back to the data center. Still, workers need to make sure that the information is encrypted, and proper security is in place.

4.     Least Privilege Access

The Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) is an access procedure whereby users are only granted minimum access rights that are necessary to execute their role. At times, an employee only needs access to sensitive data for a short period of time, so a formal method of revoking/granting a temporary permit is required.

5.     Remote Wipe

Remote wipe allows you to erase data on your mobile device or laptop (remotely) if it ever gets stolen or lost. It is an effective way to prevent data breaches and can address any security gaps in distributed company computing networks. This is a feature that businesses should encourage their employees to implement if ever faced with such a situation.

6.     SASE

Secure Access Service Edge or SASE is an emerging cyber security concept. It is a network architecture that combines SD-WAN and VPN capabilities with cloud-based security such as cloud access security brokers, secure web gateways, zero trust access, and data security firewalls. These functionalities are provided from the cloud and delivered by SASE vendors as a service. 

7.     Integration of cyber resilience

An organization which is cyber-resilient can adapt to unknown and known threats, challenges, and adversities. It is vital for an organization’s continuity as it helps to increase or build a stronger security infrastructure and helps to decrease the risk of exposure to sensitive data. Based on the objective of an organization, a structured cyber resilient system will help to identify critical information and data. It will also establish who authorizes the access to the organization’s data. Companies need to ensure that only users who are authorized can be granted access to the systems. Once inside the system, the movement within it should be tracked through strong management of identity access.

 

Securing data in a hybrid work ecosystem requires a multi-faceted approach. A company should practice the general rule of thumb to only allow those devices to connect which are company-issued, and those devices should not be utilized by anyone other than the designated workers or staff. All the updates should be done in a timely fashion, and employees must refrain from installing software’s applications that are not approved on their devices. Organizations must keep track of the data location, its details, and the members who have access to it. Finally, real-time alerts and notifications should be received any time sensitive data is moved, altered, shared, accessed, or removed.

 

Gajshield’s data security firewall and other intelligent solutions are ideal for securing your hybrid work ecosystem. Kindly contact us to know more about our data security solutions.

 

 

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