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New study from Entrust identifies opportunities and challenges for securing the new hybrid workplace

Announcement posted by Entrust 02 Sep 2021

As a rise in variants spurs new uncertainties around the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses around the globe are tasked with developing a long-term plan and work model, whether in-person, remote or hybrid, that meets the needs of employees and the business. Amid this transition, Entrust, a global leader in trusted identity, payments and data protection, set out to uncover what is needed to secure the world’s hybrid workplaces in its new data study, “Securing the New Hybrid Workplace.”

 

Entrust surveyed 1,500 business leaders and 1,500 general employees from 10 countries, including 300 from Australia, to better understand how workers from the manager level to the C-suite are preparing for a new hybrid workplace. Key findings include: 

 

  • Hybrid is here to stay, but security concerns are high: The overwhelming majority of respondent companies are moving to a long-term hybrid workplace approach. In fact, 77% of leaders and 81% of employees said their company is currently using a hybrid model or is fully remote and considering a hybrid work model. However, 53% of employees reported up to six instances of lost productivity due to network access issues and leaders cite home internet security (23%) and leakage of sensitive company data (21%) among their top security challenges.
  • Visitor management is an in-office priority: Having a detailed record of who has been in and out of a company’s office is a larger priority in 2021. 96% of business leaders and 95% of employees agree that it is important for their company to have a system in place that logs and tracks visitors who enter and exit the building when employees work in the office.
  • Home office data security presents new challenges: Businesses need to change their data security approach now that employees are more decentralised than ever before. However, while data security is a priority for leaders with 81% saying their company has offered employees training on it, only 61% of employees said their company offers this training, indicating a communication gap.

 

“With the uncertainties of the last year and a half, many organisations are well-adapted to remote work. With leaders planning the future state of their workplace models, we wanted to ask how they are adapting security and identity for the hybrid workplace: how are leaders and employees prepared to protect data and sensitive information? How will office security evolve? Will adapting to hybrid workplaces multiply vulnerabilities, or will enterprises choose smart security strategies to enable employees wherever they work?” said James Cook, Director of Digital Security, Asia Pacific and Japan, at Entrust. “With the study overwhelmingly indicating the desire of 92% of employees to work in a hybrid model moving forward, this data study provides businesses insight about how to democratise work from anywhere and incorporate security practices into their hybrid approach by working with companies like Entrust to implement solutions such as passwordless and biometric authentication, mobile identity verification and more.”

 

Perfecting the hybrid work model

 

There is no question employers are responding to a clear desire among employees for hybrid work options, with 64% saying they are considering hiring talent that resides in geographically diverse locations. For employers following this trend and hiring employees in a new, hybrid environment, there are several ways to improve and secure the onboarding process.

 

The study found business leaders are improving training methods (58%), rolling out new or improved collaboration tools (47%) and implementing mobile ID issuance for remote employees. Furthermore, leaders are taking steps to maintain internal security as they incorporate a hybrid model, with 49% using mobile identity verification, 47% rolling out one-time password technology, and 25% utilising biometric authentication, citing the desire to stay ahead of hackers and protect their internal data. 

 

Maintaining and enhancing security in the office environment

 

As companies start bringing workers back to the office, the ongoing pandemic raises the stakes of physical security to include health, safety and infosecurity. For example, companies must consider best practices when they begin to open their doors to visitors outside their internal workforce once more. Entrust found support for organisational visitor management is overwhelming, with 96% of business leaders and 95% of employees agreeing that it is important for their company to have a system in place that logs and tracks visitors who enter and exit the building when employees work in the office.

 

With this in mind, companies will begin paying more attention to who’s going in and out of the office building. Reasons for this enhanced scrutiny of visitors is primarily due to caution surrounding COVID-19, with 76% of leaders and 87% of employees citing the risk of spreading COVID-19 as the top reason it is important to have a system in place that manages and tracks guests. Other reasons included avoiding physical harm to employees (76% of leaders and 71% of employees) and protecting confidential information (73% of leaders and 45% of employees).

 

Merging data security with work from home standards

 

Business leaders also agree that it is imperative to consider the intersection of data security and work from home standards. Fortunately, it appears that the introduction of hybrid work has resulted in a step in the right direction for workplace data protection. In fact, while 81% of leaders said their company has offered employees training on data security, the overwhelming majority (88%) said it was offered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating a trend towards enhanced data security.

 

Unfortunately, while leaders are offering this training, only 61% of employees in Australia said their company offers this training, indicating a communication gap between leadership and their employees. By communicating these trainings to employees, leaders can help reduce the risk of security threats including phishing and ransomware attacks.

 

Other highlights

 

  • Australia has the second highest adoption rate for physical smart tokens (35%) and for mobile push authentication (49%), indicating that the country is adapting rapidly to seamless, secure digital authentication methods.
  • A relatively high proportion of Australian companies  (64%) are also considering hiring talent outside their geographical location, empowering employees to work remotely, full time, in a hybrid work model. However, that figure sits well below in Saudi Arabia (89%) as well as neighbouring countries such as Singapore (73%), where business leaders have indicated their willingness to hire remote global talent.
  • When asked whether a vaccine requirement would prevent or deter them from returning to the office post-pandemic, 58% of Australian respondents responded in the negative. 

          

Securing the New Hybrid Workplace is a study of 1,500 business leaders and 1,500 employees in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore. The data was gathered and distributed by Entrust in 2021. The study examines new data surrounding hot topics including best practices for hybrid work, office visitor management systems and how hybrid work affects workplace security. To learn more about the Securing the New Hybrid Workplace data study, download the first of three reports and access more content and insights, visit www.entrust.com/lp/en/securing-the-new-hybrid-workplace.

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