Man working remotely using it security essentialsPicture this all-too-common scenario. One of your employees is working remotely today and just received an email via Outlook that appears to be from your head of finance. The message is marked ‘urgent’ and the sender is requesting some important files. The employee’s guard is down. He’s distracted by his kids, and in that moment, forgets important IT security essentials and sends the requested files. Unfortunately, he has just fallen victim to a phishing scam.

As more and more companies adopt a hybrid working model, there has also been a parallel rise in cybersecurity threats. According to a recent survey, 85% of IT leaders believe a hybrid work environment will put more pressure on their departments. They also reported that phishing scams are the leading cause of security incidents when employees work remotely.

If most of your staff is now working part time in the office and part time from home, your traditional approach to IT security is likely outdated. Therefore, now is the time to update IT security essentials for a hybrid world.

7 hybrid worker security essentials

If your organization has committed to a hybrid work strategy, it is important to update your security practices accordingly. The following hybrid worker security essentials describe some of the actions you can take to prepare for this new style of work.

  1. Reassess your security stance

If you are moving to a hybrid working model, it’s essential to update your cybersecurity strategy. If you are using the traditional firewall security model – where people inside your network can access all content, and those outside are prohibited from entering – it’s going to be essential to update your approach.

Most organizations have adapted to a hybrid working environment by either investing in virtual private networks – which extends their networks and encrypts data traveling to/from the office – or by migrating to the cloud. Whichever approach you’ve taken, you’ll need to update your previous cybersecurity stance in line with this change.

The best approach here is to find a reputable third-party security expert who is experienced in working with hybrid cloud systems. They will reassess your hybrid connectivity and ensure it’s fully secure.

  1. Train your employees

A hybrid work environment introduces a new range of threats to workers, so offering an IT security essentials training for employees also adds value. As with our example of phishing scams above, remote workers may relax and forget best practices. Staff members need frequent reminders of the different kinds of security threats they face, and also need to receive refresher training on cybersecurity hygiene.

Integrating this training with existing applications, like Microsoft Teams, makes it simpler and more accessible for hybrid workers. You can utilize platforms like the Inscape training platform to delve deeper into key security training, which can help keep your company safe during hybrid working. And the Inscape Training platform includes customizable exercises and training for hybrid security, and 10 free licenses to get you started.

  1. Create new device management and DLP policies

Your organization will also need to update its policies around device management – including reviewing your mobile device management policies – to determine how you will protect the hardware your employees use.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) covers the remote setup and management of company-owned devices. You can run this as an admin from Microsoft Intune to standardize the experience your employees get from their devices, and to implement security on the software you use. Also, with Windows Autopilot, a relatively new feature of Microsoft Intune, you can set up and pre-configure new devices to get them ready for productive use. In other words, it allows your organization to take a device that is fresh out of the box (straight from OEM) and send it to your user/employee for immediate use.

Find out more: Microsoft Intune, MDM and MAM

Additionally, because organizations have sensitive information under their control – such as financial data, proprietary data, credit card numbers, health records, or social security numbers – there needs to be a way to prevent users from inappropriately sharing it with people who shouldn’t have it. This practice is called data loss prevention (DLP).

In Microsoft 365, data loss prevention can be implemented by defining and applying DLP policies. With a DLP policy, you can identify, monitor, and automatically protect sensitive items across:

  • Microsoft 365 services such as Teams, Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive
  • Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint
  • Windows 10 endpoints
  • Non-Microsoft cloud apps
  • On-premises file shares and on-premises SharePoint

Looking for a partner to help with Microsoft Security? Look no further. With over 400 Microsoft security clients, MessageOps is ready to assist you! Get Started

  1. Enhance identity protection with simple but effective IT security essentials

Many of the most effective cybersecurity hygiene practices are very simple to implement. For example, using long and complex passwords can significantly reduce the risk of hacking. Taking it further, multifactor authentication makes it much harder for malicious attackers to breach your defenses. And if you use Microsoft 365, Microsoft IT security essentials now comes with multifactor authentication as standard.

Take a closer look: Securing Remote Work using Microsoft 365 security

  1. Update laptops and PCs with antivirus technology

Whether remote employees are using their own computers or company devices, their hardware needs to have the latest patches and antivirus technology installed. Make sure all computers your hybrid workers use – in office and at home – have up-to-date antivirus tech installed.

Machines should have the latest versions of Microsoft Defender and Azure Sentinel available to use. This will help keep your networks secure while employees work remotely.

Learn more: Microsoft Defender

  1. Desktops in the Cloud

Today, many companies are giving their remote workers a secure environment using virtual desktops without having to deploy new hardware. Virtual desktops are a cost-effective and flexible alternative to traditional laptops and PCs. In doing so, remote workers can use their existing hardware to access a secure desktop, which is managed and secured by the corporate IT department, without having to change any of their personal devices. Whether you use VMware, Citrix, Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) or Windows 365, all are available at reasonable prices.

  1. Implement the zero-trust model

The zero-trust model is an increasingly common IT security approach. It assumes that anyone trying to connect to your assets should not be trusted – even if they are already inside your system. If the individual wants to open a new folder or view any type of internal company records, a verification request is sent for them to prove they are who they say they are. With Microsoft IT security essentials, you can simply switch on a readymade zero trust model, among other security tools.

Dig deeper: How to secure remote work with Microsoft 365

Now is the time to implement hybrid worker security essentials 

As companies begin their journey in the new world of a hybrid workforce, now is an important moment to implement IT security essentials. By refreshing your approach, you can be more confident you are protected in the hybrid era.

Need support implementing Microsoft IT security essentials? MessageOps is ready to be your Microsoft security partner. We’ve helped hundreds of organizations implement best practice IT security essentials.

Our Microsoft security solutions expertise includes:

  • Microsoft Endpoint Manager / Intune
  • Defender
  • Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) – Azure & Office 365
  • Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS)
  • Microsoft Cloud App Security
  • Azure Information Protection
  • Azure Lighthouse
  • Azure Sentinel

Contact us to learn how we can help.

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