Balancing flexibility and security: How vulnerability management supports hybrid teams

Approx. Reading Time: 4 minutes

Five years ago, Australia’s workforce largely revolved around a traditional office-centric culture, with only 13% of the population working from home all or most days. By August 2021, over 40% of people regularly worked from home.

Shifting to WFH in the early days of the pandemic felt like an experience with too many growing pains. Now, many people have experienced the benefits of reduced commuting costs, work-life balance, and the ability to work effectively from anywhere. Organisations, too, have reduced corporate real-estate costs and attracted talent from more remote locations.

As more businesses accommodate hybrid work, they must also consider cyber security as a key risk. Where your IT team could once secure the devices used and kept within the office, they now must gain visibility of and manage cyber security across various mobile devices, applications and networks.

How working arrangements in Australia have changed

Understanding the new risk landscape

Hybrid work models expand the attack surface. Traditional security measures that only accounted for devices accessing an office network have become inadequate to protect distributed workforces fully. People working remotely on unsecured networks introduce vulnerabilities requiring advanced threat detection and response strategies.

Risk visualisation is an element of vulnerability management that identifies and contextualises potential threats within the entire network. It highlights vulnerabilities that standard security audits might miss and enables your organisation to stay abreast of and combat any vulnerabilities within your hybrid workforce.

As your workforce and business changes, so must your vulnerability management strategy. Risk visualisation provides ongoing insights to identify risks and potential threats. With this knowledge, your business can adapt the cyber security strategy to address new risks targeting your hybrid workforce.

Analysing vulnerabilities in a dispersed workforce

Managing vulnerabilities across a distributed workforce becomes challenging because people work from various devices, locations and networks. Varied network environments and security protocols introduce vulnerabilities, particularly with remote workers using personal devices and unsecured networks.

Network scanning uncovers internal and external weaknesses. Analysing your network for vulnerabilities in remote endpoints, cloud services, and on-premises systems provides insights into how your security measures could improve across the network, not just in isolated areas.

Network scanning supports early detection and allows organisations to address security gaps such as configuration issues and compliance violations. It is vital for maintaining network integrity and protecting sensitive data in a distributed workforce, allowing for proactive, tailored security measures suited to the unique challenges of a hybrid environment.

Proactive security in a flexible work environment

Rather than responding to unseen threats as they occur, why not target issues before a threat actor exploits them? 

Reactive cyber security methods, such as firewalls, anti-virus software, and disaster recovery plans, are no longer sufficient alone. Threat actors understand that many people today connect to public networks or operate on unsecured home networks. As such, cyber criminals will seek to exploit these. When securing your hybrid workforce, you need a proactive cyber security strategy with vulnerability management to analyse and protect endpoints.

Vulnerability management monitors threats and vulnerabilities, enabling your organisation to anticipate and preempt risks. It proactively analyses endpoints, networks and cloud-based software so your organisation can patch these vulnerabilities before they snowball into larger issues. 

Asset management and network integrity in hybrid work

When managing a hybrid workforce, you must have visibility over every device accessing your data. People working from home or in transit might use personal devices to access information or log into company accounts. When your business does not have visibility over everything connected to the organisation, shadow IT becomes a problem.

Shadow IT occurs when people use unauthorised devices, software, applications, and services without approval from the IT department. A Forbes analysis revealed that 21% of organisations had suffered a cyber security incident due to non-sanctioned IT resources. These threats often manifest in unapproved cloud services, personal devices, or external platforms that create security vulnerabilities and data privacy issues.

Asset discovery and network scanning can help your organisation identify and address vulnerabilities like these. Asset discovery detects and catalogues devices, software or applications connected to your business network. Network scanning uncovers vulnerabilities within the assets connected to your business, including those arising from shadow IT.

Once you understand everything connected to your business, you can enforce policies for adding new access points and removing unnecessary devices. Continuously scanning assets and networks enables organisations to identify and address unusual activities.

Conclusion

With more organisations adopting hybrid work models, cyber security has become a key concern as old-school, reactive approaches are no longer enough to protect the workforce. People working from mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and phones on public or home networks have expanded the attack surface and the need for proactive cyber security measures, including vulnerability management.

Advanced threat detection and risk visualisation build the foundation to secure your hybrid workforce by identifying potential vulnerabilities. Proactive security, such as continuous monitoring and patching, supports flexible work environments. For the times when people work outside of IT’s visibility and use shadow IT, asset management and network scanning enable you to gain visibility over devices, software and services to either remove or protect these.

Productiv secures hybrid workplaces with vulnerability management

We help you take control of cyber security with a strategy-oriented approach to vulnerability management. We find unseen vulnerabilities that could expose your network to threats that cause financial and reputational damage. Our solutions combine cutting-edge technology with expert guidance that proactively addresses potential weaknesses before they become critical issues.

Our solution delivers comprehensive detection and effective vulnerability management that provides actionable insights to navigate the complexities of hybrid work. Visit our Vulnerability Management page for more details and to request a consultation.