The Future of Work and its Effect on Cybersecurity

The future of work is about flexibility. Employees are demanding more remote working options, increased ability to work on the devices they choose, and even contingency work that creates mobile lifestyle. Smart employers, seeking to win the battle for talent, are adjusting course to comply. And those who don’t, are facing another factor of the future of work — high turnover.

As a result of these changes, the risk for security threats and system compromises is growing. Workers are increasingly accessing sensitive data in the cloud, spilling over personal and professional tech usage, and opening up their places of work to being hacked. Smart organizations have to plan for cybersecurity threats with this changing workforce in mind. Here are a few things to consider.

Remote Workforce

As teams become increasingly remote, technology is evolving to match, and the amount of data that is accessed every second from mobile phones, desktop computers, laptops, and even IoT devices has a higher chance of being hacked.

The most critical data, coming from our business intelligence software to our customer relationship management systems, is moving to the cloud. Optimized, secure access to the Internet and cloud from your places of business is a must, but you also need to take into consideration employees accessing the cloud at home or in public places. Tools such as firewalls, data encryption, two-factor authentication, and a VPN can help, while consistent employee training on best practices for secure remote working is also key.

BYOD Movement

The BYOD movement has its benefits — saving employers money, increasing user adoption, and decreasing the day-to-day burden on IT departments, to name a few. But employees who access sensitive company data on the same device as they use for social networking can open that data to greater risk.

Frequent trainings to ensure compliance with security measures are critical to decreasing risk. Teams should have well-researched BYOD policies in places to protect against as many potential threats as possible. You also may want to consider mobile device management (MDM) which requires employees to grant IT access to their personal devices, including permission to wipe a lost or stolen device clean.

Job Change Frequency

According to research, millennials change jobs every two years, and with increased mobility between places of employment comes increased security risks. Access to sensitive data is granted and taken away at speeds faster than ever before, which means that security failures are more likely to be overlooked. Add in a gig economy in which more companies are using temporary contractors to supplement their teams, and the potential problems expand.

This also means the IT teams in charge of cybersecurity protocols are more likely to have turnover, and critical needs can get lost in the shuffle. Organizational leadership needs to take an increasingly hands-on role in understanding cybersecurity, researching the software and partners that can help protect against threats, and planning for what to do if an attack were to occur.

Decreased Attention Span

As much as many of us hate to admit it to ourselves, smartphones have had a potentially negative impact on our brains. Research shows that the average smartphone user now has the attention span of a goldfish — as constant access to new content has rewired the way we think.

Such a change in our internal “operating systems” increases the likelihood of human error when it comes to security issues. Users may misplace security passwords, forget to logout of critical systems, or inadvertently click on phishing scams looking for something new in which to turn in their attention.

Cognitive security can help, as it mimics the way the (ideal) human brain functions and makes new connections. It utilizes machine learning, language processing, data mining, and human-computer interaction to essentially analyze the security system and learn over time. As it continues to make new connections, the cognitive security system grows stronger. The goal is to predict cybersecurity threats before they occur, filling in for human thinking when it falls short.

Automation and the Internet of Things

Driverless cars are on the news every week and factories in China are replacing workers with robots in what’s being called a second industrial revolution — one that’s sure to spread to other shores soon.

Cyber criminals are threatening and already taking advantage of IoT in a way that puts not just data, but lives, at risk. Businesses using IoT must carefully plan for its security challenges with proactive threat planning, as well as a comprehensive risk-management strategy for if the worst occurs.

While having the ability to work from coffee shops, hotels, home offices, and even on the beach has its advantages, the higher potential of getting hacked is not one of them. As the nature of work and business continues to become more remote and cloud-based, it is vital that all companies take the necessary steps to prevent major security breaches and entire infrastructure compromises. By tightening security and properly training employees, you ensure the safety of your data while still giving workers the freedom to roam.

Related topics

Bitcoin mining security risks

IoT security standards

IoT Security Best Practices

Laura Shiff is a freelance copywriter and contributor to TechnologyAdvice who specializes in writing web content for software, tech, and medical companies. Connect with her on her website,