The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly changed how employees across the country work and live. That is, the past year saw a substantial proportion of the workforce transition to remote operations. Looking ahead, a recent study found that the majority of remote employees (83%) are wanting to continue working from home in some capacity. As a result, nearly half (45%) of employers are planning to implement hybrid work arrangements in the near future. Such arrangements allow for employees to split their time between working remotely and on-site. For example, employees may work in the office every Monday and stay remote for the remainder of the week.
Organizations must evaluate cyber considerations for hybrid work
While hybrid work models can offer various benefits to both employers and their workforces, these arrangements also carry unique cybersecurity risks. First, remote work environments often provide less secure network settings than on-site setups, leaving employees more vulnerable to cloud-based cyberattacks. In fact, such attacks have skyrocketed by over 600% since the pandemic began.
What’s worse, by alternating between remote and on-site networks, employees could potentially expose a greater proportion of workplace technology and assets amid a cyber incident. In other words, if an employee unknowingly has their laptop hacked by cybercriminals while working remotely and connects that device to an on-site network a few days later while working in the office, all workplace technology is then at risk of being compromised by the hackers. If you are considering a hybrid work model within your organization, consider these best practices to help minimize cybersecurity exposures:
- Utilize a virtual private network (VPN). Having a VPN provides your employees with a private, protected network connection—both remotely and on-site. VPNs offer various cybersecurity features, such as hiding users’ IP addresses, encrypting data transfers and masking users’ locations. If you don’t already have a VPN, this is a crucial step in developing a secure hybrid work model, as it can reduce network vulnerabilities when employees work remotely. If you already have a VPN, be sure it is fully patched.
- Train employees. Require staff to participate in routine cybersecurity training. This training should help employees stay up to date on the latest cyberthreats, emerging attack methods and top tips for protecting against these concerns. Additionally, this training should address specific risks related to hybrid work arrangements and how to properly mitigate them.
- Safeguard all devices. Make sure all workplace devices—including those used remotely—are equipped with adequate security software (e.g., antivirus programs, firewalls, endpoint detection and response systems, and patch management products). Ensure this software is updated as needed to maintain its effectiveness.
- Foster open communication. Lastly, encourage employees to consult the IT department if they encounter any cybersecurity issues or suspect a potential cyberattack.
We Can Help.
In addition to taking reasonable measures to reduce the likelihood of an attack, we must be realistic and understand that inevitably, we’ll all deal with a cyber attack at some point.
The two most important questions you need to answer as a business owner are:
- Will I know how to respond when a cyber attack occurs?
- Will my business survive the devastating consequences of a cyber attack?
The planning you do today, the strategic partnerships you put in place, and the adequacy of your Cyber & Data Breach Insurance coverage are all critical components to confidently answering the question of ‘will my business survive after a cyber attack’ with a resounding ‘ABSOLUTELY.’
We understand the negative effects a cyber attack can have on your organization; we’ve seen first-hand how it impacts clients. We also know which insurance companies provide the broadest insurance coverage to help you recover after an attack occurs.
But we don’t stop there.
The best place to begin is with your own internal operations, the security measures you have in place, the controls implemented to avert a data breach and the response plans if a breach occurs.
In addition to providing the Cyber & Data Breach Liability coverage, we can also provide you several services that will help position your business for the best insurance premiums offered by the nation’s strongest insurance carriers. Specifically, we can:
- Provide you with data security resources designed to help keep your data, and your network, safe
- Perform a cyber risk assessment of your business to help identify areas of weakness, and offer solutions to mitigate the exposures
- Help you develop and implement an incident response plan
If you’d like additional information and resources, we’re here to help you analyze your needs and make the right coverage decisions to protect your operations from unnecessary risk. You can download a free copy of our eBook, or if you’re ready to make Cyber Liability Insurance a part of your insurance portfolio, Request a Proposal or download and get started on our Cyber & Data Breach Insurance Application and we’ll get to work for you.