Hybrid work is here to stay. The 2021 PwC Remote Work Survey found that 83% of employers believe remote work has been successful, and 55% of managers said employees only need to work in the office three days a week or less to retain a strong culture.
However, employees working outside the corporate firewall and other network protections pose some big security challenges, especially for large enterprises. For example, during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber insurers had significant concerns about the security risks incurred with so many employees suddenly working from home. According to the Wall Street Journal, they were worried about “ensuring that remote access is properly secured, that operating systems are kept up to date with security patches, and that email servers are properly configured to guard against phishing attacks.”
The publication also reported that the inability to enable routine security measures — such as two-factor authentication and mobile device management services for employees at home — brought mergers and acquisition to a standstill.
The need for a more permanent solution
Although the initial pains of the abrupt switch to work-from-home were more acute in 2020, the staying power of hybrid and remote work means that IT needs to seek a more permanent solution. CIOs and CSOs still have to ensure that employees outside of the corporate firewall can do their work securely.
The first order of business is to provide IT with visibility into all of those hundreds, even thousands of remote endpoints. IT admins cannot secure assets that they can’t see. Next, admins must ensure that all endpoints are set up properly, with up-to-date software in the proper configurations. And when you’re dealing with lots of devices, that’s a tedious, error-prone task if conducted manually.
The risks are numerous. For example, if an employee’s machine isn’t set up properly to connect via virtual private network (VPN), sensitive information can be transmitted in the clear, where anyone could intercept and read it.
Compliance is another risk, especially if hybrid employees are managing sensitive personally identifiable information while working from home. Improper storage or worse — a breach — could result in significant fines and damage to the company’s reputation.
And, of course, there’s the danger of data loss. If data on employee endpoint devices isn’t properly backed up, a toddler spilling juice on the machine could result in the irrecoverable loss of important data.
A fix that enables secure access
Automation can address endpoint security more accurately and efficiently. Secure endpoint management solutions enable admins to pull down policies around software distribution and other key administrative tasks without having to resort to VPNs, which are cumbersome and complex to manage. Using a cloud-based system, admins can automate the installation of software, the configuration of devices, and even the set-up of endpoint data protection.
Working remotely doesn’t have to mean an enterprise incurs additional security and data protection risks. With the right automation-based solution, admins can effectively manage and monitor endpoints to ensure that hybrid employees can work securely and safely, no matter where they are located.
Learn more about how automation simplifies endpoint security amid the hybrid and remote work landscape.