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Remote and hybrid work environments have huge benefits for employees and companies. For employees who work from home at least part of the time allows for more balanced work/life integration, fewer expenses like work clothes and the cost of commuting, and often means a more comfortable work environment. For companies, a remote workforce means a larger talent pool from which to hire, less office space needed, and higher employer retention. 

While employees and employers alike enjoy the benefits of remote workers, it’s easy to overlook potential pitfalls, especially when they’re out of sight. Unfortunately, risky, unseen IT situations could be your company’s costliest of oversights. 

As you transition into a remote or hybrid business or are reviewing your existing protocols, make sure you identify and address these hidden cyber security risks of remote and hybrid workplaces.

Blurred Lines with Devices and Usage
With fewer physical and geographical barriers than ever between work and home, it’s easy for employees to blur the lines between their work and personal devices. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by HP, 70% of office workers admit to using their work device - or letting someone else use their device – for personal tasks. While this personal use is widely innocent and is mostly made up of “life admin” tasks, this unapproved use poses a risk to your company’s network and data.

Your employees are super-security-sleuth trained – they know better than to install or click anything that could put their device and your company’s network at risk. But with their device in a partner’s, child’s, or friend’s untrained hands, your company’s cybersecurity is, too. In fact, 56% of office workers with children aged 5 to 16 admit to using their work device for homework and online learning. 

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88% of IT professionals are worried that the risk of a breach has risen because employees are using personal devices for work.

Let’s talk about the flip side, too: employees working from home and connecting to your company’s network with personal devices including laptops, tablets, mobile devices, and even printers. 88% of surveyed IT professionals are worried that the risk of a breach has risen because employees are using personal devices for work that were not built with business security in mind.

32% of employees said they use their personal PC to access the main corporate network.

Most business-grade devices are set up to fight cybersecurity threats and are armed with advanced antivirus software and strict password requirements to name a few ways. When you introduce personal devices to a company’s network, you’re opening up the entire network to any vulnerabilities present in someone’s personal device. In a recent survey, HP found that 32% of employees said they use their personal laptop/PC to access the main corporate network. That 32% means a huge vulnerability for IT professionals. 

With employees and devices out of sight and out of reach, you’re more open to security breaches, but there are things you can do. The best way to protect against cybersecurity threats brought about by blurred lines among devices and usage is to train your employees. Lending their laptop to their son or daughter for homework feels innocent to your employees, they might not know the security risks this poses to the company. 

Simple, regular reminders of proper technology usage from home will help – we recommend a workplace data security education plan. As IT professionals, you know how quickly hackers innovate, so you know that a one-and-done training during employee onboarding won’t cut it! In addition to reminding employees to create strong passwords and never click suspicious links, teach them the risks of connecting to servers with unsecured devices and avoiding allowing non-employees to use their work devices. 

Printer Security and Personal Printer Use
You may tend to think mostly about PCs and mobile devices when you think cybersecurity – and hackers know this. Accessing data and networks through vulnerable printers is a hacker-favorite way to gain access to documents, data, and company networks. In fact, 45% of IT pros say they have seen evidence of compromised printers being used as an attack point in the past year.

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With more remote and hybrid work environments than ever, there is a growing need to educate employees when it comes to using home printers. When surveyed, 34% of employees admitted to using their home printer to scan and share documents with colleagues and customers. When this happens, confidential company information is stored and saved on home printers unequipped with the printer software companies use to keep their documents and data safe. 

34% of employees admitted to using their home printer to scan and share documents with colleagues and customers.

A lot goes into making office printers secure including keeping firmware updated, installing print security software, and buying from reputable vendors and manufacturers. The best way to discourage employees from using unsecured personal print devices? Provide mobile print solutions that allow your employees to send a document to print from nearly any device, including smartphones, tablets and laptops. 

Two of our favorite print software solutions offer mobile print options perfect for remote and hybrid teams. With PrinterLogic, not only can you eliminate your print servers, but with use of a simple app, employees can securely print documents to office devices with a tap of their finger. Another of our favorite secure print software options, PaperCut allows printing through a VPN. In addition, with employees sending print jobs from all over the world, IT can sleep soundly knowing that PaperCut’s monitoring features allow them to keep an eye on every print job that comes through. 

With employees and devices out of sight, the job of IT professionals has quickly changed and become even more complex. When it comes to keeping your business, its network, and its data safe, the best approach is always two-pronged: educate users and protect with the right software. 

Want to learn how to protect your remote or hybrid office against hidden cybersecurity threats? Schedule a call with one of imageOne’s experts for a free print and workplace security assessment. 

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