How to protect remote access in the hybrid work era with free VPN

Find out how the rise of hybrid work has led to security challenges, and how you can protect remote access with a premium VPN service.

The hybrid form of work is extremely popular today. When the pandemic broke out, companies were forced to switch to a remote working format, although many had already introduced some remote days to show loyalty to employees even before the pandemic.

Now the world is recovering from the COVID 19 and companies are encouraging their employees to come to work in the office at least a few days a week, mainly because it helps to achieve better teamwork. This has led to employees constantly transferring data from one computer to another, using different Internet networks, and the issue of data protection has become extremely relevant.

A zero-trust policy as well as a need to train employees in cybersecurity and the use of VPN and antivirus software are no longer just words, but a vital necessity. In this article, we will talk about basic measures that, if followed, will help protect hybrid work. But first, let’s define what hybrid work is and take a look at the statistics.

The rise of hybrid work

Hybrid work is a flexible system that allows employees to work partly from the office and partly remotely. Usually, it means that two to three days a week people will be in the physical workplace (office), and on other days they can work from home or other locations.

According to Forbes, in 2023 in the USA 12.7% of full-time employees work fully remotely, and 28.2% work a hybrid model. This means that 41% of full-time workers have access to working documents outside of the office which may put them at increased risk.

16% of companies are already fully remote and do not even have a physical office and 98% of workers expressed the desire to work remotely at least part of the time.

All this data shows that the hybrid work trend will only grow. This system is a compromise option that on the one hand allows companies to retain employees and ensure work efficiency, and on the other hand, allows employees to maintain a work-life balance.

Security challenges that hybrid work systems faces

Here are some of the security challenges that hybrid work systems faces:

  • Unsecured internet networks. 
  • Increased risk of phishing and malware attacks.
  • Difficulty in implementing security policies.
  • Risk of stealing or losing devices carrying important information.
  • Risk of shadow software usage.

In general, all challenges are associated with insecure Wi-Fi networks, software vulnerabilities, and a lack of cyber awareness among employees.

How to secure remote work

Although the issue of security in hybrid work seems complex and complicated, we offer four steps that will significantly improve data protection.

1) Use VPN

Nowadays market offers high-quality VPNs that provide services for free. It should be the company rule, that a remote employee can not connect to working accounts without prior connecting to VPN. VPN encrypts traffic and makes public or home Wi-Fi usage safer.

Choosing a VPN you should rely on the reputation and protocols used. Install a free VPN for PC and use it whenever you are connected to the Internet. This will protect work data during transmission.

2) Institute a zero-trust approach

This approach follows the rule: “Never trust, always verify” and helps to build a more secure environment at work. It means that employees should have access to the minimum amount of sensitive information necessary to perform their jobs.

This access could be provided only after strong identity verification and network control. Zero-trust approach should be included in company security policies. Mutual authentication can be annoying for employees, but one day it will save the company.

3) Equip employees with necessary devices and software

It is important to provide employees with the necessary devices for their work. This will enable the separation of employees’ personal and work files, as well as allow the employer to control the installed software.

As we already mentioned above sadow software as well as out-of-date apps put remote workforse under a risk. It’s not credible to rely on employees in question of software updating.

Software updates usually contain important improvements to address vulnerabilities. But the reality is that without proper control, employees do not update software on time. And this can only be influenced by providing employees with devices.

In this case, the employer can organize remote access for the information security department and update programs or install new ones if necessary. The company can also control which apps are installed on the laptop, regulate the rights of access to social networks, and regularly audit work devices.

4) Constant employee cybersecurity training

Human error is the main cause of cyberattacks, which means it is important to invest in employee training. Insufficient security hygiene and lack of attention to detail lead to many breaches. Social engineering is becoming more and more proficient. Cybersecurity training should be a priority for organizations of all sizes and be conducted on a regular basis.

Regular security training for employees is just as crucial as deploying any technological instrument or firewall. Employees are a company’s first line of defense therefore it is important to ensure their awareness of how important it is to protect company information.

Safeguarding information is a complex task

Safeguarding information in the era of hybrid work is a complex task. A secure environment can be created only by the integrated efforts of both: employer and employee. Each company is responsible for employee training, implementation of appropriate policies, and supplying the necessary equipment.

At the same time, each worker must pay attention to details, connect the VPN on time, and follow the company’s information security rules. By following these simple steps, you can significantly increase your company’s resilience to cyberattacks.