Businesses just weren’t designed for remote working. For decades, the European workforce has been steeped in a repetitive business routine – a full working day with a hectic commute on either side. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned this model upside down, with masses of employees now demanding more flexible work policies from their long-term employers.

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Roger Benson is Director for EMEA at AMD.

As vaccine deployments accelerate across Europe and many predict a return to “normalcy” as a result, staffing is unlikely to return to the office full time. On the contrary, hybrid models – a flexible approach that allows employees to work from different locations (home, on the go or in the office) should become the norm.

Towards a more flexible future

With homeworkers consistently working longer hours than non-homeworkers, individuals are increasingly seeking better work-life balance beyond the pandemic. According to a recent UK government report, 57% of employees said the availability of flexible work is important to them, while 92% of millennials – people born between 1980 and 2000 – identified flexibility as a top priority.

Many already have a plan for their employees to work from home one or two days a week, while some have even granted the option to work remotely on a permanent basis.

A difficult crossroads

While all signs point to a future of work that combines working from home with time in the office, this puts employers at a difficult crossroads. Employers know that data breaches are much more likely to occur when staff are working outside of the office. This is corroborated by figures from the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC), which show that more UK businesses experience breaches or attacks at least once a week in 2020 than in 2017, an increase of ten points. .

At the same time, these same employers need to give their employees the confidence and tools they need to work flexibly where they want.

There are many protections IT managers can deploy to reduce this risk, from ensuring staff receive adequate cybersecurity training to deploying anti-phishing protection. Companies that have been forced to adapt quickly to this new way of working must also ensure that the defenses they have put in place to protect remote workers during the pandemic are no longer just temporary and are suitable for support longer term flexible working basis.

More importantly, however, companies need to be confident that they are investing in technology that will meet the needs of their employees, allowing them to be productive, collaborative, and most importantly, protected from hackers.

Stronger measures

The first step to take is to make sure that staff have a virtual private network (VPN) installed on their laptop so that they can always enjoy the same security that is offered to them in their workplace, where that it is. When in the office, employees are typically surrounded by multiple rings of security – from email security and gateways to frequent software updates and security support – and it’s important to keep them in mind. ” ensure that preventive measures are in place while they are working remotely. After all, the riskiest cyber threats are the ones that haven’t been detected yet, which means prevention is the ultimate cure.

Cloud security is another important area companies need to address to ensure employees are allowed to work remotely. Video conferencing services, for example, have become extremely popular during the pandemic, but they are by no means foolproof; There have been high-profile cases of threat actors having access to video meetings, especially as more and more people are working from home networks. With that in mind, companies need to implement more stringent security measures, such as verifying meeting links, requiring multi-factor authentication (MFA) and, most importantly, ensuring that employees are working on devices. with adequate protective measures.

Evolving threats

Opportunistic hackers have drastically altered the way they operate in the wake of the shift to mass remote working – something that will likely continue as businesses move into a hybrid mode of working. With employees working from laptops on home networks, phishing attacks have grown in popularity to become the most prevalent cybersecurity threat, and there has also been an increase in Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. ) massive and simple.

In addition to using these techniques to trick employees into transmitting sensitive data, hackers also inject data collection malware such as remote access Trojans, information thieves, spyware, and banking Trojans to embezzle money and create botnets. With this in mind, companies need to ensure that employee laptops are able to combat these cyber threats and prevent access to corporate data. Secured-core PC, an AMD-backed Microsoft initiative, allows staff to boot laptops with robust security features to ensure they are protected against firmware vulnerabilities and unauthorized access.

Missing laptops

Of course, with global warming and the imminent reopening of hospitality facilities, an employer’s home network is not the only risk companies may face due to hybrid work. By allowing employees to work in outdoor cafes and breweries, it introduces the risk that company devices end up in the wrong hands; it has been found that a laptop is stolen every 53 seconds.

When a laptop goes missing, software full disk encryption (FDE) is usually the first line of defense to protect user data, but it has limits and ultimately leaves the data open to hackers. An effective way to ensure data security is to encrypt system memory. This means that when a laptop computer falls into the wrong hands, it cannot simply bypass full disk encryption by accessing keys stored in memory.

As companies decide how comfortable they are when it comes to flexible working, whether that’s maintaining the status quo or encouraging people to come back to the office more often, it’s clear that some form of working hybrid is here to stay. As leaders envision a long-term plan, it’s critical that companies make not only the right policy decisions, but also the right investments in technology, so that employees feel empowered and trusted to work safely, wherever. that they are.

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