Is Your Data Security Keeping Pace With an Increasingly Remote Workforce?


As we’ve all been uploading, downloading, syncing-and-sharing, and messaging our way through the remote-work shift, a strange twist emerged around this workplace transformation: These empowering and promising new ways of working are now also the biggest data security risks to the business.

Employees are an alarming 85% more likely to leak or lose files than they were before the pandemic—a warning sign of the exponentially growing insider risk to intellectual property (IP) and other valuable data.

Insider risk focuses on the idea that, more often than not, data leaks are accidental. This mindset is counter to conventional thinking about data security. The more well-known term “insider threat” focuses on employees performing bad actions with malicious intent. An insider risk mindset argues that intentions don’t always matter; regardless of intention, data leaks jeopardize the financial, reputational, or operational well-being of a company, as well as its employees, customers, and partners.

Who’s to Blame for the Growing Insider Risk?

It’s natural to immediately look for the bad guy in these risky situations, but typically, there are no shadowy figures launching sophisticated heists. These are just employees trying to get work done as they adapt to changing circumstances. More to the point, these employees are doing exactly what you want them to do: finding creative ways to work smarter, faster, and better.

That’s the real irony: Some of your best employees can end up as your biggest insider risks. Their ingenuity pushes them outside the bounds of protection from conventional data security tools, unintentionally exposing IP and valuable data to a higher risk of leak, loss, or theft.

But you can’t blame the apps your employees are using either. They’re built to enable freedom, speed, collaboration, and agility—and they deliver. The apps and tools aren’t just allowing your employees to make remote work work—they’re empowering employees to work more efficiently and collaborate more effectively.

These new ways of working were already driving competitive advantage for many of the most innovative companies well before the pandemic. And now that employees have fully embraced these smarter ways of working, there’s no going back. Blocking these apps and tools would only push their use into the shadows.

When it comes to the factors contributing to the growth of insider risk rather than helping address it, consider the security technologies that may take the lion’s share of an organization’s budget but might not be innovating to effectively manage insider risk, or compliance requirements that are not keeping pace with today’s business realities. Progressive business and security leaders need to think about modern security tools that can protect their organization’s reputation, financial well-being, and competitive edge.

Conventional Data Security Tools Can’t Keep Up

The timeline for digital transformation in the business world jumped forward more than five years, by one estimate, in the early months of the pandemic.

It’s imperative that data security keep pace, but most conventional data security tools weren’t built for this new world of work. Most legacy security tools depend on blocking rules that are too rigid to be applied in an agile work culture, so they block legitimate user activity, stifling productivity and collaboration.

That approach doesn’t fit today’s challenges. Data is more vulnerable than ever, with employees working on multiple devices from multiple locations, creating and sharing data in thousands of ways. Focusing on insider threats or malicious actions is not enough.

Organizations need to find a new way to manage the much bigger problem of insider risk, or it’s only a matter of time before data is leaked, which can cause such harmful scenarios as the loss of competitive trade secrets or reputational damage. In this new world of work, conventional data security tools do not protect against insider risk.

Redefining Data Security Standards for Today

The hard truth is that employees create insider risk every day just by doing their jobs. It’s a complex problem, and business leaders and security leaders need to consider what might be putting their organizations at risk—and how much risk they can tolerate.

To really capture the full potential speed, agility, and innovation of remote and hybrid work, leaders need to shift the way they think about securing their organizations’ work. We need a new paradigm of Insider Risk Management—one that focuses on understanding risk and enabling right-sized response, so you can protect your business from the biggest risks without stifling your collaborative, innovative culture.

Learn how Code42 can help your organization protect data in today’s remote and hybrid world.

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