Risk Management for The Hybrid Work Model

During the pandemic, many employees moved to home offices. This also increases the complexity of cybersecurity, and companies and CISOs need to rethink current standards and processes. The five recommendations below are intended to show how companies can ensure that all stakeholders are working together on cybersecurity.

To protect against cyber-attacks, there is only one way for organizations to go: continuously monitor vulnerabilities, incidents, and risks, as well as look for patterns to ensure maximum visibility and reduce false positives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations sent their employees to the home office and had them do their work remotely. But this also increases the complexity of cyber security, and it is no longer enough to focus solely on the four elements mentioned above – rather, companies should add additional layers. As a result, the duties and responsibilities of the chief information security officer (CISO) are also becoming more diverse.

Last year, the cyber landscape opened up new opportunities for threat actors. For example, there was an increase in malware campaigns or phishing emails with COVID-19-related content. In 2020 alone, the number of cyberattacks in India increased by 300 percent. According to a recent study, besides India, the U.S. was a particular victim of ransomware attacks. The reason: many companies were not able to restructure their security systems in time and adapt to the new situation of the remote working environment. Moreover, during the same period, Google blocked up to 18 million fraudulent COVID-19-related emails every day.

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Managing the new IT environment requires revising the existing operating protocols. However, this also creates new challenges. For example, employees may not accept the introduction of tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs) or new security protocols. The hybrid work model is here to stay. Below are five recommendations for how CISOs can ensure that everyone in the organization is pulling in the same direction when it comes to security best practices.

Have a solid risk management process in place

Cyber attacks disrupt organizations’ business operations. Every minute lost fixing a cyber security issue means a financial or reputational loss. CISOs must collaborate with the organization’s risk management team or ensure that identifying, assessing, and remediating risks associated with cyber attacks is part of the security agenda.

Boundaryless security architecture is a must

In remote work, employees often use multiple endpoints. In addition, a decentralized workforce relies heavily on cloud platforms and collaboration tools outside the secure intranet ecosystem. CISOs must therefore ensure a comprehensive security architecture in which security protocols are scalable regardless of endpoint or network. Organizations that are unable to make this shift run the risk of falling victim to successful attacks.

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Communication is critical

Risk Management for The Hybrid Work Model

Security is only as strong as its weakest link. Every remote employee must be familiar with the organization’s security practices and know how to identify attack vectors. For this reason, it’s important that CISOs find innovative ways to communicate with the workforce and keep them interested. In addition, companies should invest not only in penetration testing but also in self-diagnostic tools to test human activity. Employees must be aware that they cannot plead ignorance when it comes to security issues.

Use of innovative technologies such as AI

The days when companies simply installed Internet security suites on workstations are long gone. Now, artificial intelligence (AI) systems can be trained to detect malware and other threats using data sets that contain algorithms and code. Trained AI is able to better detect patterns – and thus malicious behavior and activity. AI isolates malicious activity, preventing ransomware from encrypting a system. Cyber security is all about correlation and predictive analytics using AI and machine learning. In an ever-evolving threat landscape, CISOs need to ensure their teams stay ahead of the curve, such as using appropriate security practices and cognitive capabilities.

IoT endpoint security

Numerous organizations rely on IoT endpoints for many processes. CISOs, therefore, need to identify which IoT devices pose a risk to various enterprise platforms, networks and cloud integrations. These must be secured and tested – for example, by simulating an incident – to test the organization’s response plans. Every IoT device should always be patched with the latest patches and configured to provide advanced security against known threats.

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The year 2020 has taught us that companies must be able to adapt quickly to changing situations. This requires constant investment in people, processes, and technology. The best security strategy is based on the assumption that the possibility of an attack could exist at any time. In this way, companies ensure that they are always two steps ahead of the attacker.

While prevention, risk management, and mitigation are key factors in addressing cyber security issues, companies should also invest in a cyber resilience plan that involves every employee. Similarly, CISOs must invest in a robust anti-APT (advanced persistent threats) infrastructure and improve early threat detection and mitigation capabilities. Companies must also adapt their cyber security incident response protocols and make them available in a central repository. Automation also plays an important role in being able to respond to incidents quickly and consistently. This ensures that everyone involved in IT hygiene measures is pulling in the same direction.

CISOs who can navigate the dynamic threat landscape in these uncertain times are already ensuring the best cyber resilience for their organization’s future.