As the world continues to adapt to new working norms, hybrid working has emerged as a popular model, offering employees greater flexibility while maintaining productivity. However, with this increased flexibility comes a set of cybersecurity challenges that businesses must address to safeguard their data and systems. In this article, we will explore the prominent threats associated with hybrid working and how they can compromise a company’s security.

Malware, Phishing, and Email Attacks

One of the primary cybersecurity concerns in the hybrid work environment is the risk of malware, phishing, and email attacks. With employees accessing company networks from various locations and devices, the chances of falling victim to these threats increase significantly. Cybercriminals exploit the potential security gaps in remote setups to distribute malicious software or deceive employees into revealing sensitive information through phishing emails.

How this happens: Emily, a marketing manager, is working from her home office. She receives an urgent email from what appears to be the company’s IT department, asking her to verify her login credentials for a software update. In a rush to comply, she clicks on the link in the email and unknowingly downloads malicious software onto her computer. This malware now gains unauthorized access to her personal and work-related data, putting the entire company’s network at risk.

Improper Management of User Permissions and Insecure Passwords

In a hybrid work setting, managing user permissions becomes more complex as employees require access to different resources from multiple locations. Improperly managed user permissions can lead to data breaches, unauthorized access to critical information, and potential insider threats. Additionally, employees may resort to weak passwords or reuse passwords across accounts, leaving company systems vulnerable to attacks.

How this happens: John, a project manager, frequently collaborates with freelancers and external vendors. However, his busy schedule leads him to grant broad access to various team members without thoroughly vetting their roles. One day, a disgruntled vendor misuses the permissions to access sensitive financial data, causing a major data breach that leads to financial losses and reputational damage for the company.

Multiple File-Sharing and Collaboration Services

Hybrid work environments often witness an influx of multiple file-sharing and collaboration services used by employees for collaboration, such as Gmail, Slack, Dropbox, Zoom, and others. While these services are convenient, they can pose a security risk if not appropriately managed. Data may be scattered across different platforms, making it difficult for IT teams to track and secure sensitive information effectively.

What this means: Sarah, a team leader, uses different file-sharing services for convenience. She shares a document with her team using a cloud service she is most familiar with, while her colleagues use alternative platforms. The lack of a centralized file-sharing solution leads to confusion, scattered data, and potential data leaks if the services chosen are not adequately secured.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

The “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) trend, a common practice in hybrid workplaces, allows employees to use personal devices for work purposes. While this promotes flexibility, it also introduces a range of security challenges. Personal devices may lack necessary security measures or have outdated software, making them susceptible to breaches.

What this means: Michael, the company’s creative director, loves using his personal tablet to work remotely. However, he hasn’t updated its software in a while, and the device lacks essential security features. One day, he connects to the company’s network via an unsecured public Wi-Fi, unknowingly exposing the company’s proprietary design files to cyber criminals who intercept his connection.

Shadow IT (Unsanctioned Applications Installed by End Users)

In hybrid work settings, employees might be tempted to install unsanctioned applications to enhance their productivity. This phenomenon, known as “Shadow IT,” often occurs without the knowledge or approval of the IT department. These unauthorized applications may have vulnerabilities or data-sharing practices that can jeopardize a company’s data security.

What this means: Rachel, a sales executive, decides to use an unsanctioned CRM tool she discovered online to manage her leads. Unfortunately, this tool has poor security measures, leading to a data breach that compromises confidential customer information, resulting in severe consequences for the company’s reputation.

Be Proactive in Securing Your Hybrid Workplace

The transition to hybrid work has been pivotal in reshaping modern businesses. However, it is essential to recognize the potential cybersecurity threats that accompany this new model. To ensure the protection of your company’s sensitive data and systems, it’s vital to implement robust cybersecurity measures and educate employees about best practices.

In our next article, we’ll highlight how Microsoft 365, as a complete, cloud-based document creation, sharing, collaboration, and user management solution can deliver just what your organization needs to facilitate productive work in the office and on the go without compromising on the highest security requirements.

At Gryphon Consulting, we understand the intricacies of hybrid work environments and the challenges they pose in terms of cybersecurity. Contact us today and let us help you fortify your defenses and safeguard your business against the ever-evolving cyber threats that lurk in the digital landscape.