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Digital Risk Management, Data Privacy

A Quick Guide To Hybridization Of Personal And Professional Networks

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Post-pandemic workplaces have become more hybrid with distributed workloads and data across both on-premises and cloud centers. Post-pandemic workplaces have pros and cons: while they provide ease to fully remote workers, inadequately managed infrastructure can become a hassle for IT teams and a security threat for the organization. 

It's no secret that IT teams have a challenging time deploying, managing, and securing these complex and hybrid work models because they have to protect on-premise data and the cloud simultaneously. And as much as people like to think that the on-premise data centers will shift to cloud-based networks completely, it is unlikely to happen anytime soon. 

Some organizations have already moved their workloads to the cloud, while others operate in hybrid models for those who work from home. They continue to have mainframe hardware and run the physical server, maintaining user information and sensitive on-premises.

Cybercrimes During The Pandemic

Organizations are creating hybrid environments to keep sensitive assets on-premise. A hybrid setup allows them to have complete control over it. Still, they also want to benefit from agility and scalability, so they use cloud services. However, hybrid and distributed organizations become prone to security threats. So, unless they span their security across all environments, they will be under the threat of a security breach. 

FBI reported that hackers have become more active ever since the pandemic hit the world in early 2020, and security breaches have increased 300% over the year. Hackers have capitalized on the security gaps in remote work models. 

Verizon Communications issued a report in May 2021 which stated that the attack rate has soared up during remote work in 2020. Attacks targeted remote desktop applications, cloud-based email, and similar technologies that assist in remote work. 

Ransomware is one of the many types of attacks that have become a security threat to organizations. This attack has done severe damage to various organizations in the United States. 

For instance, Colonial Gas had a cyber-breach in 2021. As a result, disrupted gasoline supply plagued various parts of the United States for several days. Additionally, this incident spread the word about the threat of ransomware like wildfire among Americans. 

SafeAtLast reported that ransomware attacks were happening every 11 seconds against businesses in 2021. The average ransom that any organization paid was $233,217. Ransomware recovery costs are expected to exceed $20 billion globally. 

The hybrid schedule arrangements give rise to ransomware attacks making businesses more vulnerable. According to the report of security firms, the hackers were able to carry out 65,000 successful breaches in 2020. In addition, Alejandro Mayorkas of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary estimated that on average, organizations had paid around $350 million in ransom to groups engaging in these attacks in 2020.

Difference Between Securing Enterprise Users And General Public Users

Securing enterprise users vs. general public users is not the same. The IT teams have complete access to company-issued devices or devices functioning on company networks. Therefore, they can monitor all users' activities on devices connected to their networks or company-issued devices. However, when the employees use their devices or connect to public networks, they go out of the IT teams' approach. Hence, if the employees are not working on company-supplied devices, the security of the workplaces' data becomes vulnerable to exploits.  

Risk Of Employees Using Personal Devices With Company Data

About 88% of global IT decision-makers think that the risk of security breaches has increased because employees use personal devices to work and download unapproved software.

Here are a few ways personal devices can threaten a company's data. 

Data theft 

Some applications that the employees use on their personal devices may not be secure. So, if cybercriminals hack their account, their corporate data and confidential information will also be exposed to the hacker.

Malware

Downloading files such as PDFs and unprotected applications can put the device at the risk of malware. This can compromise the security of valuable corporate data. 

Lost Or Stolen Devices

If an employee's personal device goes missing or gets stolen, and they weren't following corporate security protocols to work on their device, it can lead to a major breach. 

Improper Mobile Management

If an employee leaves the office space and continues to access the company applications through their mobile, it can invite a hacker. 

Shadow IT

80% of employees install SaaS applications on their personal devices without the IT team's approval and involve a shadow IT in the company's system. Shadow IT becomes a potential risk to the organization's data. 

Using USB Drive

Employees might use their USB drives on their personal devices. If that USB has Malware, it can pose a potential threat to the organization's security.

Preventative Steps To Manage Threats 

Hybrid organizations with flexible working are the future. So the solution can't be for organizations to take their data off the cloud. Instead, they can take preventative steps to manage the threats. 

Zero Trust 

Firstly, all companies need to promote the philosophy that they shouldn't trust anything on their network – whether inside or outside of it. This philosophy is called zero trust. Organizations should implement this philosophy in their work environment because no matter how many savvy internet users you have, you can still become a target of scams. So, the users require constant education to avoid becoming the target of a security breach. 

Multifactor Authentication 

MFA creates layers of defense against an unauthorized person trying to access your data. If one factor is broken or compromised, the other will still be in place to act as a barrier. MFA lowers the chances of becoming a target of a breach.  

Employee Training And Education 

In order to safely operate without posing a threat to the organization, the employees and contractors need to be trained and educated about the system. They should clearly understand how they can threaten its safety and integrity by using unsecured networks. With proper training, they will be well aware of ways to protect the company.  

How To Make Threat Detection Easier 

Despite keeping their security high, organizations will still be at the risk of an attack. So, in case they face any situation like that, they should prepare to deal with it. The first step to eliminating the attack is detecting it. Here are a few ways you can make threat detection easier. 

Identify Your Assets

To ensure that there is no intruder on your network, you must identify your assets. Now, the asset is not only your laptop or server. It also includes digital computing platforms. The cloud, web applications, containers, and mobile devices are all a part of this platform.

You can identify all the assets on your network through a complete vulnerability scan. Besides this, there is an option in most SIEM products to help identify assets.

Monitor, Monitor, Monitor

Your IT team must have a basic understanding of an organization's expected behaviors and patterns. The system should be monitored full time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any activity that seems out of the ordinary. 

Vulnerability Scanning

You need to run vulnerability scans more often because just running the scan once a year or quarter can put your organization at risk. It would become almost impossible to uncover new vulnerabilities by running those once a year or quarter. 

Managing Cyber Security At A Hybrid Workplace

While organizations promote hybrid work schedules, they also need to work on cyber security. Here are a few ways they can manage their hybrid workplaces safely.

Implement A Combination Of Firewalls, Threat Monitoring, And Anti-Virus Solutions

Firewalls, threat monitoring, and anti-virus solutions can be valuable cyber security measures for an organization. However, they need to be used with smart online hygiene practices. These measures will maintain the overall safety and health of the network and its data.

Manage Devices And Passwords

The devices connected to your network, whether they are your personal phones or guest devices, can be a vulnerability to your network. Each of these devices has myriad pathways into your organizations' network through systems and apps. One bad password management, weak password, or a few errant keystrokes on a malicious website can let in a breach.

Enact Strong Policies, Practices 

You must codify some aspects of your cyber security approach through processes and policies.  They should prioritize cyber security remains the top-most priority.

Conclusion

Cyber security has always remained important to any organization, but hybridization has turned this need into a necessity. Organizations want to protect their network and data. With Cyber Strong, you will never have to worry about any security breach. Moreover, we also carry hybridization webinars to give you an idea of how you need to operate your hybrid network. 

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