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Hybrid working: How is it changing the face of IT security?

Keeping information secure has always been a high priority for businesses – and an ongoing challenge. 

Given the serious consequences of a lapse, we consider how traditional IT security fits in the working from home era.

Hybrid working is set to become the norm, following an increase in working from home due to COVID-19. Pre-pandemic, an average of 39% of the workforce worked remotely, but this is expected to rise to 48% when offices fully reopen1.

As such, workplace equipment is now widely dispersed in the homes of employees. This not only exacerbates the challenges of IT security; it places even greater significance on ensuring compliance and best practice.

Certainly, the changing face of the traditional office has seen many companies adapting to home office working. 

These can range from parents juggling work with childcare and feeling under more pressure than if they were in the office to employees using work equipment for private use, which increases the chance of risks.

There is also the likelihood of staff using business hardware on domestic internet connections that do not carry the same levels of robust security standards as dedicated business networks.

To mitigate risk, businesses need to consider educating their biggest asset, their staff, on security. Educating employees around the potential consequences of an IT security breach can be incredibly powerful in reducing the risk of human error.

Why does your hybrid workforce need to be alert about IT security threats?

Research by cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes2 found that 20% of companies experienced a data breach caused by remote workers during the pandemic. It had a financial impact too, as 24% had the unexpected expense of addressing a cybersecurity breach or malware attack.

Indeed, the expense of an IT security lapse can be huge. The global average cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86million3. Add the cost of downtime if employees are denied access to networks that have been affected - and the harm done to your reputation - and you can begin to imagine the amount of damage a breach can do.

Given that, it is worth reminding employees about the significance of GDPR and the potential repercussions of a personal data incident.

Employees need to be encouraged to ensure that their everyday processes remain compliant in a hybrid working world, whether they are working from home or in the office. For example, if they're printing confidential documents at home, they should dispose of them with the same care as they would in the office and shred them wherever possible.

To help address the ever-increasing need for secure printing, employees can also develop their understanding of how to be business secure by reading our jargon busting print security blog.

A female business worker in smart casual attire is sat working from a laptop a home office or small business scenario with a Brother multi-function SMB printer in the background

What are the security risks of working from home?

Cyber criminals know that having more people working at home makes companies more vulnerable. With that in mind, here are five common cyber attacks made on businesses during lockdown that staff need to look out for:

  1. Fake requests to reset virtual private network (VPN) accounts
  2. False sign-in pages for video conferencing accounts
  3. An increase in spoofed emails imitating colleagues, particularly CEOs
    and MDs
  4. An incoming “chat” request from colleagues on “supposedly” corporate messaging systems
  5. Scams to sign up to specific websites to receive work related benefits.4

    Fortunately, there are positive signs that the issue of IT security is being taken seriously by businesses and, if you have staff working from home, their processes can be made safer by following a few simple tips:

    •    Introduce multi-factor authentication for devices, software and shared files
    •    Use mobile device management that allows IT administrators to control, secure and enforce policies on smartphones, tablets and other endpoints
    •    Ensure regular firmware updates on devices
    •    Ensure that workers change standard passwords on their devices so they are not easily guessed

    What is the future of IT security and secure printing?

    Businesses still view printing as an important resource. This is reflected in the fact that IT security is the top investment priority over the next 12 months for organisations, with 78% of them expecting their print security spend to increase over the next year1.

    But printing practices in a post-pandemic world are also a rising concern, as companies admit that home printing carries bigger worries than office printing.

    Before COVID-19, 33% of organisations were completely confident that their print infrastructure was entirely protected from security breaches or data loss. This has now fallen to only 21%.1

    To keep data safe at network level and increase confidence in the security behaviour of users, businesses should consider print solutions that are designed with robust measures in place.
    Due to the pandemic, businesses and employees are more accustomed to working from home and it’s likely in the future that hybrid working will increase. Businesses are already adopting new processes to accommodate this shift and are learning from mistakes made during last year’s sudden shift to a working from home model.

    Ultimately, there are still many steps to take before businesses reach the same levels of protection and secure printing at home to match the standards found in the traditional office. But the first milestone should be reminding and re-educating staff on this crucial topic.

    1 Quocirca's The Print Security Landscape Report 2020.
    2 https://blog.malwarebytes.com/reports/2020/08/20-percent-of-organizations-experienced-breach-due-to-remote-worker-labs-report-reveals/
    3 https://www.ibm.com/security/digital-assets/cost-data-breach-report/#/
    4 https://www.tristartechsolutions.co.uk/huge-rise-in-hacking-attacks-on-home-workers-during-lockdown/


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