What are the data security risks with hybrid working?

3 min read
Work at home securely

Work at home securely

As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, many private and public sector teams are looking to create their future ‘hybrid’ working policy. While this approach seemingly offers the best of both worlds – flexibility, choice and convenience without compromising working practices or productivity – it could also create a new set of challenges when it comes to data security.

COVID-19 has impacted how teams communicate, both internally and externally, and seen staff substitute face-to-face meetings with digital tools due to remote working. Throughout the pandemic, there was an increase in email volume – Zivver noticed a rise of 67% in secure emailing in the months following the shift to remote work in spring 2020 – and with the hybrid model becoming increasingly popular, this is expected to continue. So, as IT departments continue to look at ways of enhancing security as they embark on a hybrid approach, a great starting point is outbound email.

An increased risk of human error?

With an employee’s typical working week becoming a mix of office-based, homeworking and possibly working while on the move, this ever-changing work environment could potentially be creating an opportunity for human error.

Setting up our workspace at the start of the day, then packing up again a few hours later, using different WIFI connections, working in a shared but non-secure workspace – i.e, a coffee shop – these are all new factors added to the daily agenda for many of us. But will these changing routines make us forgetful, or even careless in our cyber security practice, because we are simply distracted by our changing surroundings?

New working practices could make teams and individuals susceptible to mistakes – such as emailing sensitive information to the wrong person, sending unintended information, putting people in Cc instead of BCc, and forgetting to apply appropriate security and/or authentication to prevent unauthorized access.

The need for flexible tools

Flexible tools that can help support better decision-making among staff in real time are ideal in a hybrid work environment, as colleagues won’t always be sitting nearby to ask a question. Tools that focus on email data protection are especially crucial now that more data is being shared digitally. Safeguarding digital communications such as emails, chats and file transfers can help ensure that information can be easily exchanged from anywhere.

A safe communication platform will not only help organisations to comply with regulatory requirements such as the GDPR and other data policies, but also enable people to catch mistakes in their communications before hitting send, avoiding potential serious data leaks. This safety net can be put in place wherever a team member has chosen to work – whether that be in the office, at home, or while on the move.

Keeping security simple

As businesses look to make far-reaching changes to their day-to-day processes, staff members, and in particular, team leaders, will likely need further training on an organisation’s cyber security policy and requirements.

Instead of reliance on periodic training, organisations should instead look at solutions that can provide real time awareness training when staff are handling sensitive information, such as via email.

As well as this, it is crucial to remember that a safe communication platform should be simple, symbiotic, and of course, secure. It should be quick to deploy, and easy for anyone to use with minimal training. Put simply, if a tool isn’t easy-to-use, people simply won’t use it, creating additional security vulnerabilities for your organisation.

Establishing a hybrid workplace is not as easy as simply allowing employees to work from home whenever they want. Safeguarding data and preventing costly outbound email mistakes must stay front of mind for any organisation, wherever they choose to work.

Zivver’s most recent whitepaper on this topic offers pages of thought-leading insight on what simple practices you can do to protect your organisation and your customers. Zivver might just be the safe, flexible and secure platform you need.

Access your copy now



Written by

Kate O'Neill

Originally published on June 3, 2021

Last update on July 27, 2021