How to Protect Your Company from Remote and Hybrid Work Cybersecurity Challenges

Companies shifting to remote work has resulted in many challenges, from maintaining access to business-critical applications to ensuring connectivity and productivity. One of the biggest challenges for business IT departments, however, is maintaining security across remote or hybrid work environments.

Cybersecurity is only going to grow more essential, complicated, and demanding in the future, and the threat of malicious activity continues to grow, with cybercrimes in the US spiking by 300% in the early days of the pandemic.

Not only can data breaches be extremely costly for the original organization (cybercrime is expected to cost the world $6 trillion by the end of 2021, and will climb to $10.5 trillion by 2025), but it can have far-reaching consequences for a company’s vendors, suppliers, and customers.

While data security can be particularly important (and complex) in heavily regulated industries such as government and healthcare, it’s a high priority for companies across all verticals, with industries such as manufacturing—and consequently, supply chain and logistics—requiring increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity measures.

In this post, we will cover common cybersecurity challenges and security threats companies face today, and then explain how technology can help solve them.

Top 5 Cybersecurity Challenges Businesses Face

First, let’s take a look at the top five most prevalent challenges that companies and their IT teams are experiencing.

1. Securing Business Data in a Remote (and Hybrid) World

Securing sensitive data is a significant problem for IT departments that must manage remote or hybrid workforces. In fact, 52% of legal and compliance leaders feel that cybersecurity and data breaches are the most increased third-party risks that their organizations face since the pandemic began.

Data stored on outside devices or somewhere that a company’s IT department cannot safeguard is problematic and open to a myriad of threats, such as phishing, malware, ransomware, and exploitation of vulnerabilities in cloud-based microservices, cryptocurrency, and mobile applications and devices.

The Growing Cost of Unsecure Data

The average cost of a data breach in 2021 was $4.24 million per incident, according to a report from IBM and the Ponemon Institute. What’s more, as per the same report, security breaches cost an average of over $1 million more per incident when they involved remote work.

Remote Work and the Risks of Data Loss and Data Leakage

The risk of data loss or damage increases with remote work due to employees using a range of devices and network gateways, storing data in multiple places, and accessing different versions or instances of the various applications they need to do their jobs.

Accordingly, IT teams must limit or reduce the risk of malicious activity and data loss through policies that limit accounts based on granular access for users, group permissions, locations, and devices, among other things.

2. Complying with Data Security Regulations

Industry standards and security regulation compliance also affect various businesses and managed service providers differently. Depending on the industry, IT departments must abide by certain rules or adhere to certain regulations in order to remain operational and avoid fines or other legal penalties.

For example, medical and healthcare organizations in the US must be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the associated cybersecurity guidance that comes with it.

Other industries also need to consider various rules and regulations:

The consequences of failing to comply with these standards or regulations vary by industry and infraction, but they include fines, potential lawsuits, and possible civil or criminal penalties for individuals at fault for the failures.

That’s not to mention the costs involved with mitigating or fixing the effects of the breach and the potential loss of trust in the eyes of the public.

3. Enabling Cybersecurity Measures for Remote Workforces

The clear demand for and need to enable remote work in 2022 and beyond means that IT teams must respond to many new challenges and requirements, such as adding enhanced encryption and security protocols like multi-factor authentication (MFA), granular access control, and user policies.

Implementing Encryption Protocols and Multi-Factor Authentication

Any data that is password protected, or applications that require a username and password for access, is still not as safe as it could be. Enter encryption protocols and MFA, which can help protect any company data that is accessed through any network.

Setting up these protocols—especially for workers who are remote, traveling, or otherwise accessing business applications and data from a network not maintained or controlled by the company’s IT department—is necessary in order to help safeguard company data.

Controlling Access on a Granular Basis

The ability to manage data access from a central location and provide it on an as-needed or user-by-user basis is a necessity for maintaining cybersecurity in today’s distributed business world.

IT teams must be able to restrict access based on classifications such as user, group, media access control (MAC) address, internet protocol (IP) address, and incoming gateway to keep sensitive information secure.

Securing Varied/BYOD Devices Across Multiple Locations

With team members often using their own devices (as well as taking home laptops and mobile phones for remote work), maintaining a secure environment has become more complex than ever.

For those companies that offer a bring your own device (BYOD) program, there are additional layers of complexity to contend with. For example, employees likely have different makes and models of devices, and they may be running different OSs, as well as versions of these systems.

Employees may also be accessing company servers or data over Wi-Fi networks that the company does not manage (e.g., those in their homes, airports, coffee shops, hotels, or other public facilities), which may not be secure.

In addition, some legacy applications may not be available natively on certain devices, yet still can be critical for business operations. These applications may require virtualization technology for employees to access them remotely, which can require additional cybersecurity measures.

4. Mitigating the Strain on IT Resources

It’s abundantly clear that remote and hybrid work has increased the strain on IT departments. Since remote workers access and interact with company data from a range of locations using different devices and gateways, the number of potential access points for cybersecurity breaches has increased significantly.

Companies must take increasingly sophisticated and multi-pronged approaches to cybersecurity that involve layers of protection.

Ideally, an organization’s data security approach should be simple to manage and cost effective, but 61% of IT professionals report their companies are understaffed, resulting in a resource gap that cybercriminals can readily exploit.

5. Keeping Pace with Ever-Evolving Cybersecurity Threats

Cybercriminals are moving targets. Accordingly, IT departments must handle a range of constantly changing cybersecurity challenges, such as malware infections, account hijackings, spam, targeted attacks, malicious scripts, phishing, and more.

Hackers and other bad actors are always seemingly ahead of the curve, so ensuring your company’s data security protocols are top notch is essential, and it can be a major undertaking.

With a growing number of workers using mobile applications and the cloud, cybercriminals are adapting with new penetration tools, deep fake technology, and other cybercrime tactics that pose heightened cybersecurity challenges.

While companies can and should implement cybersecurity awareness training for employees, there are other measures that organizations can take to keep up with these evolving threats.

Overcome Cybersecurity Challenges with Parallels RAS

A virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution like Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) can help reinforce and enhance your company’s cybersecurity efforts whether employees are working remotely, on-site, or anywhere in between.

That’s because VDI solutions help centralize and protect your company’s data using multiple layers of security, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) encryption protocols.

VDI solutions also enable company data to be stored on a central server or in the cloud (or both, if needed). This means that, instead of storing data on their device(s), employees can access and use company applications and data over a secure connection protected via a variety of encryption protocols and MFA.

With Parallels RAS, IT administrators can restrict access to sensitive resources based on user, group, MAD address, IP address, and incoming gateway. There’s also an option for granular filtering by user.

While Parallels RAS can boost your organization’s cybersecurity efforts in many ways, there are a couple of areas where this solution is particularly valuable:

Data Segregation and Centralized IT Management

Preventing data leaks requires implementing strict data segregation mechanisms. With Parallels RAS, setting up and managing data segregation is simple and easy.

The solution offers its own data segregation feature, which means there is no sharing of data, applications, and desktops between instances of a Parallels infrastructure.

With Parallels RAS, IT teams can manage user access by device and application, manage data segregation and secure data storage, and tackle threats to company cybersecurity from one centralized location, all of which help reduce the burden on IT resources.

This centralization also allows potential security breaches to be mitigated more quickly since IT teams have a single location from which protective measures can be deployed and user access restricted.

Advanced Filtering, Client Policies, and More

IT teams can use combinations of these capabilities to develop the appropriate multi-layered cybersecurity solutions for their needs. They can also set up client policies, which are a set of rules that define the limits of what users can configure or do on their own instances of company systems, such as:

With Parallels RAS, employees can access remote desktops or applications on any device or OS, without any of that data being stored on the device itself. This helps ensure user flexibility and access without compromising data security.

IT teams can use Parallels RAS to manage data access from a single location and provide it on an as-needed or user-by-user basis. There are also options for restricting access based on factors like user, group, MAC address, IP address and incoming gateway.

Parallels RAS also offers the following security features:

Together, the security features of Parallels RAS help mitigate the strain on IT bandwidth and cybersecurity resources by allowing teams to develop robust client policies and enforce them from one central location.

The result? A comprehensive solution to today’s myriad cybersecurity challenges so your company can continue to enable remote and hybrid workforces with greater peace of mind.

Check out all the security benefits Parallels RAS has to offer by watching our on-demand demo.