Does your RIA have a hybrid work environment? Make sure it’s secure

October 14th, 2021
Does your RIA have a hybrid work environment? Make sure it’s secure

Remote working has proven to be invaluable in maintaining day-to-day operations during the pandemic, but many RIA practices are now considering how to safely and efficiently reopen their offices. Rather than simply returning to their existing brick-and-mortar establishments, RIAs are adopting hybrid work models to enhance employee experiences and create a more productive work environment.

What is hybrid work?

Hybrid work is a flexible working model in which employees split their time between working from home and the office. It brings together the most desirable attributes of in-office and remote work: the structure and sociability of the former, and the independence and flexibility of the latter. This is one of the reasons why 82% of company leaders intend to permit a degree of remote working as employees return to the workplace.

But while adopting a hybrid work model can ensure a prudent post-pandemic return to the office, it also opens a Pandora’s box of cybersecurity concerns. For one, RIAs and staff work between different locations, so they’re constantly moving in and out of the company network. An employee might use unsecure devices or practice poor security hygiene while working remotely and compromise your network once they use the same devices to reconnect to it.

It’s not enough that your IT provider secures and manages your on-site infrastructure — it’s equally important that you provide employees with the necessary tools and resources to keep data safe in your hybrid work environment.

Related reading: What is endpoint security and is your RIA on top of it?

How to secure your RIA practice’s hybrid work environment

It’s crucial that your RIA implements a long-term, robust security strategy that addresses endpoint device security and data protection needs to mitigate threats targeting your hybrid workforce. Here are some key measures to consider:

Use an enterprise-grade VPN

Companies often leverage virtual private networks (VPNs) to provide employees working off-site with secure access to network resources. Basically, a VPN acts like a tunnel that protects the data being transmitted within it and keeps it from being intercepted by unauthorized parties. Your RIA can use a VPN to encrypt your communications between the office and remote workers, minimizing the risk of data privacy and security concerns such as breaches and cyberattacks.

Establish access control systems

Your IT provider can’t completely manage all the devices that your RIAs and staff use as well as the home and public networks they connect to while working remotely. These potential entry points make your corporate network vulnerable to a host of security threats, so it’s imperative that your RIA practice has a system in place to keep unauthorized users out.

Identity and access management (IAM) helps you confirm the identity of users attempting to access your network. It also checks whether they are authorized to use particular resources or perform certain actions before granting or denying them access.

The most commonly used technologies that simplify aspects of IAM are the following:

  • Single sign-on (SSO) – eases the management of various usernames and passwords by allowing users to use only one set of login credentials to access multiple applications
  • Multifactor authentication (MFA) – requires users to provide other credentials (e.g., a fingerprint or a code sent via SMS) besides their username and password to verify their identity
  • Privileged access management (PAM) – monitors, controls, and manages access given to users based on their roles and job functions

Related reading: Why your RIA should use multifactor authentication tools from Microsoft

Access control is among the simplest yet most effective ways to keep unauthorized users from infiltrating your RIA network. However, you must keep in mind that your data will not be 100% secure if you rely solely on one IAM tool. It’s best to implement at least three layers of protection to effectively regulate access to your systems and data.

Develop a security-oriented culture

Security must be embedded into everything your hybrid workforce does in order to substantially minimize data privacy and security risks. Your IT provider can help you instill cybersecurity awareness in your staff through frequent security training, which can be done virtually and in person. This helps ensure that everyone in your firm is able to successfully identify and guard against hybrid work-related threats, enhancing the overall security of your RIA firm.

The key to securing your RIA’s hybrid work environment is staying on top of cybersecurity. You can start by checking your Microsoft Secure Score, which shows how well your firm is implementing best practices. If you need help shoring up your RIA’s cybersecurity or have questions about securely managing and supporting your IT infrastructure, get in touch with our experts today.