UK SMEs sharing confidential files via email during Covid-19 lockdown
Security risks on the rise as new polling from the Lanop accountancy group exposes a worrying trend of businesses sharing confidential data over email during the Coronavirus lockdown
Nearly half of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are frequently sharing confidential files like spreadsheets and employee data via email, according to a new poll of company owners.
The survey, conducted by the Lanop Accountancy Group, one of the UK’s leading accountancy firms, quizzed 100 company owners in London-based small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) about their security habits during the Coronavirus outbreak.
The data found that 46 per cent confessed to sharing confidential files with colleagues over email since lockdown began, including financial and personal data contained in spreadsheets.
Despite this, three in every five company owners (60 per cent) reported that they have not upgraded company security since shifting to a remote working model.
Meanwhile, 59 per cent reported an increase in email phishing cyber attacks since lockdown began – phishing attacks are a sophisticated cyber crime which attempts to trick users into revealing their login credentials or other sensitive information.
Furthermore, 30 per cent have purchased new laptops, mobiles and tablets to manage remote working, and one quarter of SMEs are sharing a Zoom account with another company.
A further one in five companies reported that they have cancelled a meeting due to conference systems crashing.
Looking to the future, 45 per cent of company owners admitted plans to increase their IT spending in near future, and nearly one quarter (23 per cent) say they will not renew their office lease even after the crisis. Interestingly, one third of company owners claimed they lack the IT systems to operate remotely for a further three months, and 28 per cent said that their staff lack the digital skills to operate remotely.
Commenting on the research, Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director of Zoho Europe told The Commentator, “The Covid-19 crisis has forced the majority of business owners to quickly implement remote working systems in order to continue trading despite strict lockdown measures.
He continued, "For many companies, successfully managing urgent projects, team meetings and company finances online against the backdrop of economic turmoil has brought with it a myriad of delays. During this difficult time, getting instant access to easy-to-use applications for managing video conferencing, collaboration and instant messaging is essential in order to maintain business productivity and keep employees engaged.
"All too often, many SMEs assume that such resources come with sky-high prices an limited flexibility, when in reality free resources like our Zoho Remotely offering exist to help companies operate efficiently despite the chaos. Moving forward, as lockdown measures begin lift, it’s more important than every that companies ensure access to the very latest IT apps, to help drive business growth in the future.”
Cybersecurity expert Tim Sadler, CEO, Tessian, said, "Businesses must consider how to prevent data loss caused by risky remote-working behaviours, especially as many of the companies surveyed said they will not be returning to the office post-pandemic. "A recent Tessian report revealed that nearly half of employees do not follow safe data practices when working remotely because, they say, they aren't being watched by IT teams and working on unfamiliar devices. What's more, the majority of employees admit to finding workarounds when security policies stop them from getting their job done at home.
Sadler added, "Protecting people on email has to be a priority in this new hybrid world where employees can work from anywhere. All it takes is one simple mistake or typo for sensitive and confidential files to land in the wrong inbox and for a company to suffer a significant data breach. Policies and training help, but security solutions that understand employee behaviours and alert individuals to risks are invaluable to data loss prevention methods in the new normal."
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