Many organizations only embrace cybersecurity as a bottom-line business priority after years of unprecedented, expensive and significant data breaches and cybersecurity incidents.
More than 80% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) view IT security as a top business concern, and 75% of corporate executives rank cybersecurity enhancements as a pressing issue in the year ahead.
For many, this means adapting to a long-term remote workforce by empowering employees to be productive and secure from any location. In response to last year’s pandemic, 85% of CISOs reported sacrificing cybersecurity to enable remote work. Now, it’s time to revive those capabilities.
Specifically, while external bad actors represent a meaningful threat to data security, accidental and malicious insiders pose a more profound and avoidable risk in a remote environment. That’s why sales of employee monitoring software are surging as CISOs strive to keep data secure, regardless of employee location. This practice has received its fair share of criticism, but monitoring software isn’t without merit. For CISOs looking to empower employees to work securely from anywhere, here are four best practices for securing a hybrid workforce with employee monitoring software.
1. Be Transparent
While it may be tempting to pursue a clandestine monitoring initiative, these efforts are more likely to be successful when implemented transparently. Many employees support cybersecurity initiatives, but they are wary of compromising their privacy for unwarranted oversight.
Secretive or opaque monitoring protocols not only undermine company culture, as employees feel spied on and untrusted, but these efforts also obfuscate the critical role employees play in the company’s defensive posture. Therefore, be transparent at every point in the process, routinely communicating:
- the purpose of monitoring
- the scope of monitoring
- the protocols for managing collected data
- the implications of collected information.
Consider embracing open forums where employees can ask questions, provide feedback, and actively participate in the process. When it comes to securing a remote workforce with employee monitoring software, clear communication and consistent transparency can go a long way toward making these efforts successful.
2. Be Precise
Today’s employee monitoring software is incredibly capable. In addition to logging rudimentary tasks like internet use, downloads, file transfers and email, some software can activate cameras, microphones, and more. However, just because you can collect certain information segments, doesn’t mean that you should.
To prioritize privacy while maximizing effectiveness, identify the specific purpose of monitoring efforts, and restrict oversight to achieve that outcome.
For example, data consistently shows that remote workers are more active than their in-office counterparts, logging more hours and engaging in more communication. They are also more prone to using personal devices for work-related tasks. Therefore, CISOs could use employee monitoring software to track device usage and ensure that work-issued technology is being used to handle company data.
Whatever the purpose, collecting less data often produces better results.
3. Be Automated
Even before a global pandemic reoriented everything about the way we work, cybersecurity professionals were overrun, exhausted and burned out. A survey by the Ponemon Institute found that 65% of cybersecurity professionals are considering quitting their jobs, and 91% say they suffer from moderate or high stress.
Managing a remote workforce only amplifies their concerns, adding additional vulnerabilities in an uncontrolled environment. When not implemented correctly, employee monitoring software can exacerbate stress. For instance, one report found that cybersecurity professionals receive more than 10,000 alerts each day, and monitoring initiatives can add to that total, creating an outpouring of false positives that exhaust cybersecurity professionals and decrease their effectiveness.
The answer, in part, is automation. Automated risk detection prevents unwanted employee behavior, restricting alerts to the most critical cases. What’s more, when this software is highly configurable, it empowers CISOs and their teams to manage monitoring efforts, letting them serve as a useful tool, not an additional responsibility.
4. Be Adaptable
Last year brought about radical change on many levels. A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic shifted our work environments, enabled new threats and created new possibilities. While it’s unlikely that we will experience a similarly disruptive event in 2021, today’s threat landscape is always evolving.
Cybersecurity failure is expensive, costing nearly $4 million to recover and ushering in cascading consequences that can be devastating in an already challenging environment. Therefore, cybersecurity leaders should routinely evaluate their employee monitoring practices, ensuring that they are updated to meet the moment.
Cybersecurity is a significant challenge for every company, and securing on-site IT is no longer a sufficient defensive posture. Instead, thriving companies will invest in their remote teams, empowering them to be productive and secure from anywhere.
Employee monitoring software can play a pivotal role in these efforts, but only if it’s implemented correctly. In other words, employee monitoring software can be a powerful tool or another distraction that fails to deliver on its promise and potential.
This article originally appeared in Security Boulevard and was reprinted with permission.