The importance of strong authentication for hybrid and remote working

hybrid and remote working

Hybrid and full remote working: the need for new digital workspaces

Over the last few years, the landscape of work has undergone a disruptive transformation where hybrid and full remote working quickly replaced the dominant role of traditional physical offices for all those jobs and tasks that can be easily and effectively done from everywhere, just by connecting to the Internet through IT devices. As a matter of fact, this change is pushing for the urgent need for innovative solutions to accommodate this new way of working by building new digital workspaces.

Let’s check the difference between these new trends:

  • Hybrid work is a blended solution combining in-office and remote work together, based on flexibility and work-life balance while maintaining some weekly physical interaction for specific activities to carry out at the office;
  • Full remote work, instead, makes it possible for workers to completely carry out jobs remotely from anywhere, with a deep sense of freedom and independence.

It appears clear that, at least for what concerns digital professional profiles, the conventional physical office is no longer a valuable option for an increasingly dynamic workforce. Nowadays, employees and freelance contributors require seamless access to tools, data and platforms to best cooperate: this is where new digital workspaces come into play and how they go beyond the physical boundaries of classic offices, addressing the challenges regarding the geographical workforce scattering, the diversity of connected devices and, above all, the demand for fluid collaboration anytime, anywhere. This is just one of the main areas related to the digital transformation phenomenon around businesses.

The main features of digital workspaces for hybrid and remote working

Building such effective, efficient, secure and trusted hybrid and remote workspaces needs a comprehensive approach that considers technology, policies and education. Here’s a blueprint including the main features for building digital workspaces:

  • Unified, shared and intuitive access to applications and data through a single entry point with a simplified user experience combined with user-friendly interfaces, especially without the need for multiple logins;
  • User authentication management to centralize authentications and accesses on workspace platforms and keep an overview of access authorization to resources;
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) implementing strong methods that ask users multiple verification factors for a trusted and safe access, especially for the first-time connection from new devices;
  • Mobile device management (MDM) to enforce remote work security policies on mobile devices and make possible to implement remote mobile access controls;
  • Integration of tools and applications improving the unfolding of processes and enabling effortless and remote real-time cooperation for all workers;
  • Secure data management and privacy policies considering measures to ensure protection for sensitive information and providing secure networks where share, store and access data, also ensuring that remote workers privacy gets respected while still enabling effective monitoring and security measures;
  • Secure network infrastructure to establish encrypted and safe connections of remote devices with corporate networks, including endpoint security solutions for all the devices connected remotely, safeguarding data transmission and preventing cyber threats and unauthorized access to resources;
  • Regular security audits, review and hardware/software updates to effectively identify and address vulnerabilities, checking the effectiveness of security measures – which must adapt to the fast evolution of cyber risks and threats – and keeping devices and applications updated with the latest system and security patches;
  • Development of an incident response plan [LINK Why is incident response important in case of cyber attack] to prepare a quick and strong resistance strategy outlining steps to take in case of cyber attacks to mitigate damages and downtime and effectively spot the threat and counter eventual future attempts;
  • Workers training about the most relevant digital workspace functions and especially regarding cyber security best practices, such as recognizing phishing attempts, using secure networks and wisely use their devices remotely;

Security in hybrid and remote working: strong authentication is the way

Cyber security has always been a key point to safeguard within organizational workspaces and, of course, it is now even more concerning the evolving landscape of hybrid and remote work. The safety and integrity of sensitive private information and business data is what everybody look for when enjoying the freedom of connecting and working anywhere in the world over the Internet; but, despite the enthusiasm for the innovation that’s changing people working habits worldwide, the traditional security measures are no longer sufficient to tackle the threats that could affect decentralized work environments. Thus, strong authentication might represents the right way to ensure security in hybrid and remote working and fix the weaknesses that hackers know how to exploit, like unsecured home networks where malwares could spread or all risks related to personal data breach through lost or stolen devices.

Strong authentication is based on multi-factor verification and leverage on introducing additional layers of security beyond the conventional username and password combination. In fact, in order to successfully authenticate to a platform users need to pass multiple forms of validation, including:

  • Username and passwords combination;
  • Biometric markers like fingerprints (learn about pros and cons);
  • Passkey authentication;
  • QR codes to scan via mobile applications;
  • One time passwords (OTP) sent via SMS.

As firms worldwide continue to explore the hybrid and remote work landscape, they realize how strong authentication becomes a must to leverage on cyber security and improve the productiveness, making it possible for workers to quickly and safely authenticate on work platforms while companies can maintain the control of what’s happening in the digital space, who’s accessing, how, when and where. By embracing strong identity verification solutions including multi-factor authentication, a market expected to be valued around $20 billion by 2025, organizations strengthen their digital infrastructures, enabling seamless and secure work experiences. Indeed, strong authentication represents not just a measure of security, more likely a wise investment for the longevity and resilience required by the new digital workplaces.

The benefits of strong authentication in hybrid and remote working

As we’ve seen, strong authentication emerges as a crucial pillar for cyber security in hybrid and remote working models as this powerful method to verify users identity provides several benefits for digital dynamic work environments ensuring data protection, maintaining operational continuity and guarantee the safety of work ecosystem. Let’s take a look at the most relevant benefits of the use of strong authentication:

  • Complies to data protection regulatory frameworks such as GDPR, proving the organization’s commitment about privacy, sensitive data and information and enhancing brand reputation among stakeholders;
  • Mitigates remote risks safeguarding users devices against unauthorized access, ensuring that only legitimate users can enter;
  • Prevents and defends against cyber attacks adding multiple layers of protection and making it significantly difficult for hackers to breach systems and compromise data – it especially includes attacks like spear phishing;
  • Prevents identity theft drastically reducing the odds that unauthorized individuals could impersonate another person through emails or other digital form of communication, like employees, contributors or even managers, thus safeguarding both personal and corporate identities;
  • Guarantees user-friendly experiences combining the need for online security with user convenience and simplicity, as methods like biometric authentication and the use of mobile apps procedures provide seamless and secure identification while maintaining a high level of security;
  • Improves remote collaboration security with a secure and quick access to shared documents and communication platforms only for authorized personnel;
  • Keeps insider threats under control dissuading potential hackers within the organization itself to actualize malicious intentions and reducing the likelihood of unauthorized access to important systems and resources – improving corporate cybersecurity;
  • Allows business continuity as strong authentication guarantees employees to get secure access to resources and maintain productivity anytime, anywhere, even by using personal devices when the ones provided by companies were damaged, compromised or stolen.

To get a wider knowledge on this topic and learn more about it from another point of view, check out Microsoft’s blog post.

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