Covid-19 remote working sparks security fears for most decision makers

Nearly three-quarters of business decision makers (71%) believe that the shift to 100% remote working during the Covid-19 crisis has increased the likelihood of a cyber breach, according to new data released by cyber security company Centrify, a leading provider of identity-centric privileged access management solutions.

The data, obtained via a poll of 200 senior business decision-makers in large and medium-sized UK companies conducted by independent polling company Censuswide on behalf of Centrify, also revealed that 46% have already noted an increase in phishing attacks since implementing a policy of widespread remote working.

Andy Heather, VP, Centrify said, “Cyber criminals will no doubt attempt to seize the opportunity presented by the all-out expansion of remote workers, many of whom have not been proficiently trained in even the most basic of cyber security measures. Therefore, it is essential that businesses and employees remain vigilant during these challenging times.

“Organisations of all sizes must prioritise security protocols when transitioning employees from an office to a remote working environment. This includes introducing professional training for all employees on how to operate IT and online infrastructure safely, and how to spot unusual or potentially malicious activity.

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“Furthermore, businesses should take an identity-centric approach to secure remote privileged access, to ensure that any hackers and cyber criminals cannot gain access to sensitive systems or data.”

The research also found that 79% of business decision makers have increased their cyber security procedures to manage high volumes of remote access over the next three months. Similarly, 73% of businesses have given staff extra training on how to remain cyber-safe when working remotely, with specific training around verifying passwords and log-in credentials.

The survey also noted additional fears that IT systems are at risk, with over half (53%) saying they believe that privileged IT admin remote access is at risk of security breach.

Sridhar Iyengar, MD, Zoho Europe said, “The sudden shift to complete remote working will be a shock to the majority of businesses and their employees. With the Covid-19 crisis causing chaos, disrupting supply chains and forcing millions into isolation, it’s critical that companies can continue to operate as efficiently as possible, to safeguard jobs and protect livelihoods.

“For this to happen, businesses need instant access to the latest video conference applications, as well as project management and employee collaboration tools to help employees remain productive during this challenging time. Not only that, but they need to have a culture of trust and understanding with their employees, in order to have them work from home effectively.”

Meanwhile, Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian, added: “It’s critical that businesses adjust to the ‘new normal’, and recognise that employees are now operating in unfamiliar working environments, with many using personal devices while working from home.

“Bosses should ensure staff avoid downloading new software, sharing company data and be vigilant to identify and report suspected scam emails.

“We know that cyber criminals thrive in exploiting vulnerable situations, so protecting the personal security of individuals and companies should be a top priority during this crisis.”