Three things to consider in your hybrid office security checklist

Nov. 4, 2021
The job of security professionals will become more robust as agendas are reassessed

Heading into the new year, business leaders can give organizations the opportunity to re-evaluate their approach to workplace security, especially in the face of a hybrid landscape. IT decision-makers have the chance to educate all leaders and work to address the challenges of integrating next-generation technologies into the workplace while being mindful of security concerns. All stakeholders – not just security professionals – can consider implementing security features that help protect information at various stages, from networks to the cloud. With this in mind, security professionals should establish expectations and protocols to proactively prepare for the future.

Information technology and data security leaders are investing in network and device security solutions, allowing employees the freedom to work and collaborate remotely with access to controls and other needed resources. As technology facilitates greater flexibility and connectivity for workers worldwide stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders should be cognizant about which security features they are incorporating into their networks and practices.

With many companies continuing to utilize hybrid work environments, it remains important to incorporate strategies that help safeguard workplace data, as well as consider embedding security solutions that help protect both the organization and its employees’ information. Below are a few considerations organizations can employ while considering the needs of the modern workplace.

Collaboration and productivity tools that may offer a layer of protection

Recently, both businesses and people have become more connected than ever. As a result, more integration and security features are being built directly within workplace productivity tools and solutions. While collaboration remains important, decision-makers can consider exploring features that help protect the way information is stored, implementing an end-to-end process that is effective and equipped with security in mind. More importantly, businesses can take a look at some of the latest solutions on the market that emphasize on-the-go productivity and include security features to support employees.

These all-in-one solutions can be integrated into your organization’s technology portfolio, which can further help streamline and future-proof long-term operations regardless of setting.

Beyond exploring new technology and solutions, it is also important to consider taking a closer look across the company’s network offerings to evaluate potential risk from some of the more unsuspecting entry points, such as printers and scanners. If after internal reviews you are considering what to do next to level up your security approach, a great option would be to invest in a device that comes equipped with solutions that enable aspects like print via cloud capabilities while providing security features—offering greater flexibility and allowing employees to print and share information across multiple devices and locations from approved network servers, in hopes of having users take advantage of security features available. Additionally, some other recent solutions on the market prioritize employee convenience with the ability to access Microsoft Teams accounts directly from the interface of certain scanners and printers, providing another layer to help users with the security of organizational data – combining both security and seamless sharing and collaboration right at employees’ fingertips.

 Evaluate cloud solutions that contain security features for the future

Last year, as the pandemic spread, employees were searching for quick and new ways to share and store information with their colleagues inside and outside of the traditional workplace. As a result, and not unexpectedly, cloud adoption quickly accelerated as employees found themselves more dispersed than ever before, which made it more of a necessity for security teams to put added focus around its infrastructure. In fact, a recent report noted 90 percent of IT decision-makers said that their cloud usage exceeded projections since the pandemic, further supporting the need to prioritize cloud security, especially when exploring new tech integrations and solutions.

And now, Gartner predicted,  “over 76 percent of organizations have adopted or plan to adopt multi-cloud environments by the end of 2021, making cloud networking an important technology.” * But how can organizations strategize? Fortunately, there are many services to explore with built-in security features.

Reinforce security training and consider new trending practices

 In a time when some employees are still working remotely full-time, organizations can find ways to empower them with a sense of defense by providing them with proper training. According to a recent report by research firm Malwarebytes, a majority of respondents said that security training is critical for employees working remotely. Importantly, they noted that in order to be effective, training must be tailored to the needs and responsibilities of individuals, teams and departments.

As organizations move forward, it is time to curate a more personalized approach to virtual security training. Start by evaluating team needs and setting goals and objectives for today, tomorrow, and beyond. These goals can start out as simple, designed to meet the unique needs of your organization and its work style now. As time goes on, you can begin setting quarterly and annual goals of the program, which can become more tailored depending on employee feedback and adapt to workplace priorities as they evolve. Once the new program is created, you can continue to monitor your employees’ engagement and adjust training to stay as real-time as possible.

In terms of trends, increasing security awareness training could remain a top internal priority for IT decision-makers across teams. According to the 2021 Cyberthreat Defense Report conducted by CyberEdge Group, low-security awareness among employees is the “top barrier for organizations establishing effective defenses.” So, looking ahead, organizations can consider new ways to empower employees with the skillsets to help protect their data and information in a hybrid workplace.

Taking it a step further, leaders can consider exploring some of the newer trending cybersecurity platforms that can bake in IoT support, knowing that it may work differently from other network connections. If leaders are interested in keeping up to date on the latest and most advanced offerings, they can help start to explore and educate employees about the use of IoT devices – offering a more advanced approach to employee training for cutting-edge organizations.

The role of security professionals is more critical than ever

The COVID-19 pandemic altered the way organizations work in many ways. But a powerful insight has emerged in recent months about how vital security can be so it’s critical to help employees stay as prepared as possible.

Remember, your IT department’s cybersecurity plan can function as a resource and living document that is updated on a regular basis. This can include the basics of your approach and practices, including guidelines on how to help protect devices (such as up-to-date operating systems, browsers, firewalls), multi-factor authentication (not just strong passwords, but secondary methods of authentication for the company) and data protection (including how to manage customer or other protected information). 

Regardless of an organization’s strategies or plans, one potential trend is emerging across professions: new ways of hybrid working may continue to bring new and disruptive challenges. As a result, the job of security professionals will become more robust as agendas are reassessed. They can help guide leadership to implement and enforce new security policies, as well as work more strategically on a regular basis to help mitigate new and emerging threats.

About the author: Mike Betsko is Senior Director, Marketing & Solutions at Canon U.S.A. Inc where he supports security solutions. A veteran in the professional services industry, with more than 20 years of sales and services management experience, he has held several senior management positions focused on software consulting, services delivery, operations and portfolio development.


*Gartner, Hype CycleTM for Hybrid Infrastructure Services, 2021, Danellie Young, Eric Goodness, Christine Tenneson, 26 July 2021

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