Getting endemic-ready: How will IT pros shape the future of hybrid work?

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The future of work is changing. As we plod steadily towards economic recovery, it has become evident that the majority of Southeast Asia’s workforce are ready to commit to a hybrid work arrangement for the foreseeable future. In response, many businesses have adopted cloud technologies to achieve the required flexibility, cost savings, and scalability. But what happens when remote work policies contribute to 50% of a company’s risk exposure?

Security in an unpredictable economic landscape

The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation race, and with organisations scrambling to the cloud to keep up with the unceasing crops of industry disruptors, the chances of falling through security loopholes have greatly increased. According to SolarWinds’ IT Trends Report for 2021, 36% of tech pro respondents in Singapore stated their organisations have had medium exposure to enterprise IT risk over the past 12 months. High-risk or extremely high-risk exposure is perceived more acutely at mid-size organisations (45%) compared to small businesses (12%) and enterprises (30%). 

But not all is bleak. According to the report, more than half (55%) of respondents have outlined key areas of technology investment and upskilling required to prioritise security/compliance, demonstrating an inherent awareness that falling behind is potentially the greatest risk of all. As organisations continue to support and improve remote work arrangements, IT pros must align and collaborate on priorities and policies to best position not only individual organisations, but the industry at large to succeed with a future built for risk preparedness. 

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However, the findings highlight a possible disconnect: Although enterprise IT risk exists within their organisations, tech pro respondents are confident in their risk management and mitigation preparedness strategies. In fact, 88% of tech pro respondents “agree” or “strongly agree” their IT organisation is prepared to manage, mitigate, and resolve risk factor-related issues due to the policies and/or procedures they already have in place. But is this always the case?

Removing our security blind spots

As offices adjust and readjust to ever-changing remote working measures, IT departments are faced with a constant onslaught of help tickets, troubleshooting issues, and requests to calibrate new cloud systems. This can sometimes result in security taking a backseat as tech pros wrestle with issues in need of more immediate attention. Some might even expect ownership to fall solely on the shoulders of a dedicated security team, particularly for tech pros who have been with a company for a long time and are resistant to change.

Added to the tasks of tech pros is the responsibility of integrating/implementing new technologies into organisations. Forty-three percent of tech pro respondents said the lack of strategic planning and/or proof of concept procedures for IT investments or new technologies was the number-one aspect of current IT environments considered to increase an organisation’s risk exposure, indicating they hope investments could be better directed to address security issues.

These continued perceptions reflect apathy and complacency when it comes to security, which will not only increase their business’ level of risk, but also limit exposure to new technologies, ignore better ways of working, or continue glossing over other areas of less obvious risk within the organisation.

Something needs to change.

Security as a mission, not a chore

IT pros have the skill sets and ability to pave the way towards a safer, more secure future of work, but first they must accept security as one of their responsibilities. They can start by examining current processes from the outside in and applying rigour when evaluating solutions. Many security products promise the moon and more, but they’re not a one-size-fits-all kind of tool. This means spending time verifying the product’s functions and capabilities to select the one that checks all their business’ specific security needs.

Next, IT pros must focus on providing complete visibility into all systems to identify possible areas of risk and opportunity. According to IBM’s 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report, a data breach is no cheap blunder, costing Southeast Asian companies $2.6 million USD per incident in the past year. Even small adjustments, like speedier upgrades and patches, the adoption of password managers, and multi-factor authentication solutions can help improve an organisation’s overall security.

Security priorities should not stop once solutions are put in place. As hackers get smarter and cybercrime increases, tech pros should be continuously assessing their risk management, mitigation, and protocols to avoid complacency and becoming “blind” to risk.

The future of work is here, and it starts with IT teams

As Singapore makes her slow but steady journey towards some form of normalcy, it seems more and more likely that remote or hybrid work arrangements are here to stay. To prepare for this new era, tech pros must shed their complacency and remain vigilant, remaining picky about which security management solutions they select and deploy. 

This is an opportunity for tech pros and IT leadership to align on priorities and policies to keep IT departments well-oiled. Through collaboration, communication, and keeping up to date with the latest trends and solutions, a more optimised, secure performance for Singapore’s remote workforce can be assured.

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