If COVID-19 has taught us one thing, it’s to expect the unexpected. But there is much we can do to build in resilience as businesses the world over begin to come to terms with a new way of working.

Working from home (WFH) is no longer a perk for top executives. It’s now part of the New Normal. For many companies, the partial return – with employees splitting time between the office, customer locations, and home – provides a number of challenges.

However, with appropriate preparation and planning, there are a number of processes that can be put in place to make life easier and your business more secure.

We recently conducted a customer report to accurately gauge their attitudes toward remote working, to better understand their concerns, and to consider ways that they can make improvements.

Here’s what we discovered.

Remote For The First Time

Our report was sent to 2,000 professionals – both managers and employees – across 17 different sectors. These included banking and finance, airlines, telecoms, construction, healthcare and education.

Despite the fact many of these businesses had been forced to digitally accelerate in a short period of time, an impressive 98% of respondents rated their organisation’s ability to remote work as average or above.

Whilst almost 80% respondents rated their organisation’s ability to remote work effectively as very good or excellent, less than half (42%) knew of a remote working policy in place pre-COVID-19 crisis; while just over half (47%) admitted there was no such policy in place before.

Security Lacking In Numerous Areas

However, once we drilled down into these findings, it quickly became clear that there were numerous safety issues – which left many businesses vulnerable.

Those surveyed reported that:

  • Multi-factor authentication was required by only 41%
  • Phishing protection was acknowledged as standard practice by only 46%
  • Security awareness training was undertaken by less than a third (31%)

The fact that such a low proportion of respondents use multi-factor authentication and have attended security awareness training is worrying on two counts.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that 81% of hacking-related breaches come from people using either weak or stolen passwords. This underscores the importance of using both secure passwords and multi-factor authentication.

Secondly, it is vital that organisations protect themselves against phishing. Phishing is a constant threat and there are millions of attacks every day. In fact, according to research firm Barracuda Networks, in April 2020 phishing emails spiked by over 600% compared to the end of February 2020.

Given that this is undoubtedly a direct result of the sudden shift to remote work, unless companies put the right security measures in place, for cybercriminals, there will continue to be millions of sitting ducks.

Taking Action

As many businesses and organisations will continue or resume working from home regimes for some time yet, it’s important that more preventative action is taken. This is vital for organisations for several reasons – not least the fact that a second wave of COVID-19 is hitting numerous countries and regions across Europe.

Your WFH checklist must include:

  • flexible infrastructure planning and 6-9 month vulnerability assessments (updated and continuous)
  • device encryption including messaging and conference software
  • anti-malware
  • anti-spyware
  • 2 factor identification
  • password renewals

To allow defenceless systems and emails to remain vulnerable to phishing attacks, malware, ransomware, and personal loss of data, is essentially ignoring a ticking time bomb that could have devastating effects on your organisation.

That makes it all the more important to provide robust and resilient strategies going forwards. No one can count on this pandemic being the only crisis to deal with. So, we may as well learn lessons now, and develop smart strategies to cope for what the future may bring.

Ultimately, the key takeaways for IT managers responsible for those working on the home front is not just to be prepared, but to provide security protocols that allow everyone to sleep well – safe in the knowledge that all of the right security measures are in place.

Want to take a closer look at our report? Check it out here.

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