Cyber chiefs warn that Covid-19 remote working 'increasing risk' of breaches

Remote working during the Covid-19 outbreak is set to put thousands of businesses at risk of a potential cyber attack or data breach, according to research conducted by Centrify

by Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor on 7 April 2020 15:13

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This week research has revealed that nearly three-quarters of business decision makers (71%) believe that the shift to 100 per cent remote working during the Covid-19 crisis has increased the likelihood of a cyber breach. The data was collated by Centrify, a leading provider of identity-centric privileged access management solutions and polled 200 senior business decision-makers in large and medium-sized UK companies.

The research was conducted by independent polling company Censuswide on behalf of Centrify in the last week. The findings showed that 46 per cent have already noted an increase in phishing attacks since implementing a policy of widespread remote working.

Andy Heather, VP, Centrify, warned that “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.

Heather continued, “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.

“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,” he concluded. The poll also found that 79 per cent of business decision makers have increased their cyber security procedures to manage high volumes of remote access over the next three months. Similarly, 73 per cent 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.

Email security expert Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian, said: “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.” 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 warned that companies needed access to secure collaboration tools to continue to operate. He 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,” concluded Iyengar.

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