Best practices for achieving cybersecurity visibility in hybrid work environments

Cybersecurity visibility

Network visibility reveals network usage patterns, enhancing security awareness. Visibility is a critical part of secure hybrid work environments where new devices come online constantly, and workers can connect from almost anywhere.

This article explains why network visibility matters in a remote and hybrid work context. We will explore the meaning of visibility and offer practical suggestions about how to discover network traffic and user activity on your network.

Why is visibility important in cybersecurity?

Visibility allows security teams to identify and monitor network connections. Good network visibility verifies the status of endpoints and inspects network traffic for threat detection and performance management.

Problems arise when engineers lack reliable visibility. Low visibility puts digital assets at risk. Malware and malicious users can infiltrate the network edge, resulting in data breaches or network attacks. Monitoring user activity is also more challenging in chaotic low visibility environments. Companies struggle to monitor data usage, creating compliance risks.

IT teams lack knowledge about traffic flows, network connections, user communities - and general performance. Troubleshooting and maintenance become very challenging.

Unfortunately, achieving cybersecurity visibility is not simple. Cloud devices and encryption create hard-to-inspect blind spots. Visibility tools may not monitor certain traffic types. Network complexity rises over time, out-pacing the ability to visualize network architecture.

Above all, remote connections can overwhelm security teams. Hybrid and remote work environments quickly become unmanageable, creating unguarded endpoints.

Cybersecurity challenges in hybrid work environments

Ensuring visibility is critical in remote or hybrid work setups. When workers leave the office, their workstations and data travel with them. Engineers must monitor every endpoint, even in remote work offices.

Visibility is hard to achieve, but the cybersecurity factors below make it essential.

  • Remote workforces expand the attack surface. Workers use many devices in different locations. They move between offices, homes, and public networks. There are more entry points for malicious actors. The risk of attacks rises.

  • Remote devices are vulnerable to network attacks. Laptops and smartphones might lack up-to-date virus protection or VPN coverage. Thieves can steal devices and extract valuable data.

  • Remote work presents opportunities for insider threats. Security teams may be unable to monitor user access. They cannot know who is viewing confidential data.

  • Collaboration tools used by remote workers also present vulnerabilities. Apps like Slack and Google Docs can expose sensitive data. Phishers can gain access via a single link.

Best practices for achieving cybersecurity visibility in hybrid work environments

Remote access comes with security risks. However, companies have many reasons to embrace home or hybrid work. Balancing flexible work and cybersecurity is critical. Follow these best practices to blend convenience and cybersecurity visibility.

Cybersecurity visibility best practices for hybrid work

Implement network monitoring

Cybersecurity visibility begins with remote network monitoring. Monitoring tools place remote agents on employee devices. Agents track network traffic, logging the files employees access, when they do so, and information like device profiles and locations.

Monitoring can raise privacy concerns if agents extend to non-work activities. Solve this issue by enforcing policies that stop workers from using the same laptop for work and leisure.

Engineers can also limit monitoring to relevant web apps and prevent the extraction of critical data. Everyday user activity remains private, but IT staff can still mitigate cybersecurity risks.

Establish clear and comprehensive cybersecurity policies

Secure remote work relies on robust cybersecurity policies. Policies create a framework for remote connections to central assets, establishing best practices and expectations.

Focus policies on critical remote work areas. For example, policies must cover password management, using antivirus tools and encryption, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and communicating with colleagues securely.

Explain what you expect from employees. Define what it means to connect or handle data safely. Reinforce expectations with regular employee training. Don't allow anyone to set up a home office without thorough preparation.

Strengthen endpoint security

Endpoint security is a core challenge when ensuring remote work visibility. Every laptop or employee's smartphone could be a vector for cybersecurity threats. Your security posture should cover every endpoint—wherever employees choose to work.

Require employees to use approved antivirus and anti-malware tools. Centralize patch management to ensure updates reach every device. Centralized delivery eliminates human error. Standardized protection covers all remote devices. 

Use secure tools to establish remote connections. Business Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) help encrypt traffic flows and conceal business data from outsiders.

Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is another option. EDR tools provide threat visibility by monitoring endpoints for suspicious activity or vulnerabilities. EDR enables a proactive approach, countering weaknesses before threats to critical infrastructure emerge.

Embrace cloud-native security solutions

Using cloud services is often the best way to secure remote workers. Cloud tools do not rely on centralized network management or installing apps on user devices. Security tools reside on the cloud, traveling with employees.

Workers log on to company assets via Single Sign On (SSO) or Secure Web Gateways (SWGs). Cloud-native VPNs and network monitoring systems secure data flows when users access cloud services.

Cloud-native solutions make it easier to achieve cybersecurity visibility. Security teams can track cloud app usage, check for suspicious connections, and block access to sensitive cloud resources.

Embrace the Zero Trust security model

The Zero Trust model teaches network managers to "never trust, always verify." This is a sound strategy for securing remote workers and ensuring cybersecurity visibility.

Basing network security on Zero Trust solutions. Robust access management tools verify identities and user permissions. Network segmentation and encryption keep critical infrastructure off limits without a business justification.

Continuous authentication also avoids complacency. Malicious actors gaining access during remote work sessions can't get far without proving their identities. Zero Trust requires a vigilant, proactive security posture. Security teams assume that users represent cybersecurity threats unless they can prove otherwise - a stance that makes perfect sense when securing fluid remote work environments.

Strengthen access control

Access controls are a crucial component of Zero Trust approaches and a must-have for remote work visibility. Managing access promotes visibility by establishing the identities of network users. Security teams know which users are connected and their level of privileges. If users breach their privileges, systems deny access and generate alerts.

Customizing access policies using role-based access controls (RBAC) is advisable. RBAC streamlines access, mapping permissions onto employee roles. This enhances security without hindering business operations.

Provide security awareness training for remote employees

Remote work security is a human and technical challenge. Companies can only ensure cybersecurity visibility in remote work environments by providing regular employee training.

Training programs should cover critical remote work themes, including:

  • Password management and authentication using and updating security tools such as VPNs and anti-malware apps

  • Secure data handling and collaboration

  • Phishing awareness and physical device security

  • Incident response. How and when to inform security teams about threats or accidents.

How NordLayer can secure your hybrid workforce

Embracing remote work should never compromise cybersecurity. Realize the benefits of flexible working arrangements by ensuring cybersecurity visibility and creating secure remote work environments.

Building secure remote work systems from scratch is complex and time-consuming. Achieve better results (and save a lot of stress) by partnering with NordLayer's network visibility solutions.

Our solutions make traffic visible and easy to analyze. Device Posture Monitoring verifies devices and ensures compliance with security policies. Usage Analytics helps you manage loads and optimize performance, while activity monitoring tracks member IDs and user behavior.

NordLayer's tools put businesses in control of distributed networks. Security teams know who is connected and how they interact with network assets. To find out more, get in touch with our team today.

Secure your network and simplify IT tasks with NordLayer’s network visibility solutions

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