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46% of global businesses have had security scare from remote working

06 May 2020

The great shift into remote working has taken its toll on organisations’ security landscapes, with almost half (46%) of global businesses having encountered at least one cybersecurity scare since shifting to a remote working model.

That’s according to research released today by Barracuda Networks, which also found that 49% of survey respondents said they expect to see a data breach or cybersecurity incident in the next month due to remote working.

The survey, commissioned by Barracuda and conducted by independent research agency Censuswide, quizzed over 1,000 business decision-makers in the UK, US, France, and Germany. 

“Due to the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses have been forced to instantly implement a remote working system to protect the health and safety of employees,” says Barracuda Networks chief technology officer Fleming Shi.

“Inevitably, the switch to a complete remote working model in such a short space of time brings with it a myriad of security challenges, particularly with many employees using personal devices to exchange and share data.”

Phishing campaigns abound

51% of survey respondents said they have already seen an increase in email phishing attacks since shifting to a remote working model, while a further 51% of business decision-makers agreed that their workforce is not properly trained in the cyber risks associated with long-term remote working. 

Additionally, 46% claim they are not confident that their web applications are completely secure, and 50% have allowed employees to use personal email addresses and personal devices to conduct company work.

“Naturally, opportunistic hackers are on the lookout to target vulnerable organisations, which may have weak security infrastructure in place during this difficult time,” says Shi.

“The risk when cybersecurity is de-prioritised or neglected by businesses is that hackers can target untrained, susceptible remote workers with increasingly sophisticated and incredibly realistic-looking email phishing attacks.”

Executive decision-making varies

According to the research, 41% have admitted to cutting their cybersecurity budget as a cost-saving measure to help tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

55% of respondents said they would not have implemented remote working within the next five years had it not been for the current crisis, while 56% said they plan to continue widespread remote working after the crisis is over. 

Digital transformation has been hurried along for many in response to the pandemic - 53% of respondents reported that the COVID-19 crisis accelerated their plans for moving all their data to 100% cloud-based model.

50% said they would consider making workforce reductions if it meant company data protection and security could be properly funded.

“As many businesses enter their third month of remote working, it’s time they refocus efforts on tackling this growing cyber threat,” says Shi.

“At this crucial time, one successful data breach could be the final straw for many businesses which are already facing an uphill battle against COVID-19.

“And in the current threat-scape, it’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ a company’s security will be tested by cyber criminals, it’s a matter of ‘when’.”

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