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Taking a Hybrid Approach

Taking a Hybrid Approach

As COVID-19 rates decline across the country, more and more workers are migrating back to their offices, trying to get back into some semblance of a routine that has not been present since the onset of the pandemic more than a year ago.

Here in New York, workers who are fully vaccinated can return to their offices without wearing a mask, effective immediately.

Even with all of these seismic shifts, as millions and millions of Americans continue to get vaccinated, and many employees are going back to their buildings, to their desks, to their computers, reconnecting with their colleagues, there are millions of other workers who continue to work fully remotely.

This combination of in-person and remote employees could prove to be cumbersome for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is how secure their employees’ devices are, especially for those who remain at home working.

In light of the recent cyberattacks on Solar Winds, Verkada, Microsoft Exchange and Colonial Pipeline, just to name a few, it is imperative that cybersecurity measures are in place to ensure the privacy of data and other personal information stored on employees’ devices, whether working in person or remote.

The concern over how secure employee devices are, especially for those who are working remotely, was apparent in a recent study released by Parks Associates, which noted that 37 percent of U.S. SMBs are likely to purchase cybersecurity services in the next six months, and more than 50 percent of U.S. SMBs are concerned about the cybersecurity of employees’ home networks.

“Remote work, accelerated by COVID-19, is now a critical part of the connected home ecosystem, and with that comes multiple stakeholders, including SMBs that make up the vast majority of all business, and increased demand for services that will improve speeds, guarantee performance, and secure two-way communications between remote employees and their employers,” noted Parks Associates President Elizabeth Parks.

A few weeks ago, I talked about the importance of making sure that your devices, whether for home or for work, are safe and secure and protected from potential ransomware and other cyberattacks that could place personal and business data in the hands of cyber criminals.

We saw what happened to an essential component of our nation’s critical infrastructure when a ransomware gang launched a massive cyberattack on one of our country’s largest fuel pipelines, which led to President Biden signing an Executive Order on what could be done to improve the nation’s cybersecurity and protect Federal Government networks. (Insert link here)

As we’ve seen, it’s not just critical infrastructure that is being attacked. Devices utilized by SMBs are prone to cyberattacks as well, and employers must now look into adopting a hybrid approach to protect employee devices, both at home and in the office, especially with the amount of workers staying at home, even with COVID rates declining.

“The future of the office is hybrid, with flexible options to work remotely and collaborate in person,” said Nicole Zheng, CMO, Minim. “Employee sentiment is driving this trend, alongside increased office savings, productivity, and talent pool access. With this rapid shift, it’s time to rethink workplace technology - most especially, connectivity and security solutions. If you need to be convinced, just ask Alexa when she’s listening into your next confidential conference call from home.”

I would certainly heed Zheng’s advice. Long-term workforce security is at stake. With the gap narrowing between the number of remote and in-person workers, these new challenges on the cyber front must be met head-on. Taking the hybrid approach and mitigating the risks will be a win-win for all.


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