6 security and privacy questions to ask yourself going into 2021

After a highly disruptive year, we’re all looking forward to a post-Covid world in 2021. Now is a great time for reflection, so here are key security questions to ask yourself for the new year.

ARTICLE | 6m read
December 22, 2020

With the United Kingdom and United States rolling out coronavirus vaccines, remote workers around the world will soon be able to return to the office. However, now that many employees have had their first taste of flexible work, it’s unlikely that working from home is going to disappear. According to Global Workplace Analytics, we will probably see 25–30 percent of the global workforce working from home multiple days a week by the end of 2021. Anticipating a world after the coronavirus pandemic, organizations should take stock of everything they have learned from our shared remote work experience and continue to optimize their flexible work strategy.

One important element of this strategy is ensuring your employees have a strong security posture. Much has changed in cybersecurity best practices since the pandemic began, and even that which hasn’t changed may seem unfamiliar after so long in our home offices. In this article, we will examine six key questions to ask about privacy and security best practices as you optimize your experience in 2021.

1. Are your employees prepared for mobile security?

 The use of mobile devices skyrocketed during Covid-19 lockdowns, but there’s a big security difference between using your phone for work at home versus a shared public space. This makes it worthwhile to reeducate employees on good mobile security habits, such as how to use secure networks when they rely on public Wi-Fi in libraries and coffee shops. Everyone also needs to get back in the habit of locking their computer screens when they get up from their desk, and not leaving security keys or passwords in plain sight. And if flexible workers haven’t already adopted multi-factor authentication or passwordless technology, now is a great time to start.

Is it time to adopt new, more secure technology?

The start of a new year is always a good time for change, so it’s worth asking whether employees really need to keep technology near its end of life. Employees might be attached to their aging laptops or software, but older assets can pose significant risks to their security. For example, if an older device can’t connect to a Wi-Fi 6 router with the latest security updates, that device will be more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Unsupported software poses similar risks, as new threats emerge every day targeting older applications that don’t have patches to protect sensitive data. These issues are good reason to retire older applications and transition to cloud applications that will be easier to maintain and secure.

WHETHER IT’S APPLICATIONS, HARDWARE, OR NETWORKS, ASK ‘DO I REALLY NEED THIS LEGACY STUFF?’

Kurt Roemer
Chief Security Strategist
Citrx 

3. How are you addressing advancements in phishing and ransomware techniques?

In March, the cyber community saw a 667 percent surge in phishing emails related to the coronavirus, and Q1 experienced a 273 percent increase in data breaches. This makes it essential you prepare flexible workers to recognize and avoid phishing and ransomware attacks in 2021. While security training can help with this, an even better strategy is to implement a zero trust framework to protect employees as they bounce back and forth from the office to home and elsewhere. You can also mitigate phishing and ransomware attacks by equipping your IT team with networking solutions like SD-WAN that improve monitoring and security.

4. What can I do to eliminate distractions and better focus at work?

Workspace distraction might seem more like a digital wellness concern rather than a security issue. However, overwhelmed and distracted employees are more likely to make poor security and privacy decisions. Look for ways to reduce context switching for employees, such as reserving white space time each week in which no meetings can be held and everyone is encouraged to turn off notifications. It’s also a good idea to explore automation technology that can let AI take care of routine approvals and calendar RSVPs for your employees.

5. How can I improve my physical workspace?

After months of working remotely, some employees are thrilled to be their own facilities manager and others feel trapped in their home office. Now is a great time for employees to check in with their current workspace and ergonomics to ensure they’re setting themselves up for their best work and best health. This might mean rearranging some furniture to get more natural light on their desks, adding a kettlebell to the corner to mix some exercise into the workday, or investing in a new office chair for a more comfortable seating position.

6. What positive disruptions can you adopt to improve security?

After a year full of disruptions that none of us chose, 2021 is a great time to choose positive ways to shake up our security practices. Training yourself in new security and privacy technology will not only help keep your data safe, but is also invaluable in crafting security strategies for your organization. One important example is FIDO2 authentication, which allows you to securely verify your identity for online portals without having to rely on passwords at all. This not only improves information security for your organization, but also spares you from having to create and remember new passwords every few months.

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