Despite the vaccine rollout, it seems unlikely that things will ever return to the way they were before the pandemic. A recent PWC survey found that 78% of CEOs believe that a distributed workforce is here to stay. As a result, organizations must rethink how they can best organize themselves in these uncertain times, remain secure and survive this indefinite period of remote work and virtual interactions.

Many companies are struggling to adapt their security strategy to accommodate the new normal. With remote working now an ongoing reality, there has been a rush to adopt and integrate a slew of new tools and cloud platforms to facilitate collaboration and maintain productivity. However, in the race to connect everyone, security implications are often overlooked. This, coupled with the fact that relying solely on a corporate firewall is no longer a sound security strategy, puts many organizations at risk.

So, what should companies do now to adjust their security strategy? Here are five factors to adhere to that will prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage of the virtual business environment.

1. Adopt a Zero Trust Approach

Organizations need to adopt this mindset now that there is no longer a well-defined security perimeter. All systems must be appropriately secured and require authenticated access from an authorized device, no matter whether they reside on the internal or external network. Businesses should also require that remote employees use a VPN to access corporate resources when they are not physically in the office. This will help mitigate security concerns.

2. Review Security Before Adding Tools

There has been a surge in the adoption of collaboration tools and cloud services to support engagement in our digitally dependent world. Most organizations have prioritized resiliency over security concerns. However, rather than rushing to adopt new tools, IT teams must audit every solution for potential security vulnerabilities and know how to securely configure them before they are activated. In addition, teams must adjust their approach from security enforcer to taking on the persona of a risk advisor-- helping the business understand the security vulnerabilities while supporting a more agile response to the new working environment.

3. Make Multi-Factor Authentication Mandatory

Passwords remain a weak link and are the source of many cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Sensitive systems and data require more than a simple password for security. Organizations need to add additional layers without introducing too much friction to the user experience rather than hoping that one will suffice.

4. Tap into Intelligent Technologies

With the shortage of cybersecurity resources along with escalating threats, harnessing the power of intelligent technologies has never been more critical. The ability of these solutions to process vast volumes of data to identify and predict threats is an invaluable resource for organizations that they can't ignore. Machine learning and bot detection are critical tools for security teams now and in post-pandemic times.

5. Practical Security Training for the Remote Workers

Security training is critical so that employees understand the new risk landscape. The training should aim to help protect both professional and personal data as most home networks are overloaded with a range of different devices. Employees will be more receptive if you present a holistic view of the threats. There needs to be regular tips and tricks that educate on the latest cyber scams and phishing attacks to prevent employees from falling for lures. Setting up a chatbot to address frequently asked questions from remote workers will provide employees with the information they need when they need it without adding any unnecessary burden on the IT team. The simple step of training workers on how to set up a separate Wi-Fi network solely for business devices while working from home will significantly mitigate potential risks from malware on the home network. And, of course, reminding them again of the security implications inherent in jumping on a public Wi-Fi network at the coffee shop.

The working environment has changed forever and organizations need to adopt an agile approach to deal with the new threat landscape. Staying rooted to what worked in the past has the potential to be a recipe for disaster in 2021 when it comes to security.