Almost half (46%) of global businesses have encountered at least one cybersecurity scare since shifting to a remote working model during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to official research by Barracuda Networks, the trusted partner and leading provider for cloud-enabled security solutions. An astounding 49 per cent also said they expect to see a data breach or cybersecurity incident in the next month due to remote working.
The global survey, which was commissioned by Barracuda and conducted by independent research agency Censuswide, includes answers from over 1,000 business decision makers in the UK, U.S., France, and Germany. More than half of respondents (51 per cent) said they have already seen an increase in email phishing attacks since shifting to a remote working model.
The increase in cyber and email phishing attacks aimed at businesses is a result of a rushed, unsecure execution of a 100 per cent remote working model. In fact, 51 per cent of business decision makers agreed that their workforce is not proficient or properly trained in the cyber risks associated with long-term remote working. Additionally, 46 per cent claimed they are not confident that their web applications are completely secure, and 50 per cent have allowed employees to use personal email addresses and personal devices to conduct company work.
Most worryingly, two in five businesses (41 per cent) have admitted to cutting their cyber security budget as a cost saving measure to help tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
Furthermore, according to the Barracuda survey, 55 percent of respondents said they would not have implemented remote working within the next five years had it not been for the current crisis and more than half (56 per cent) of respondents said they plan to continue widespread remote working after the crisis is over.
Another transition that has sped up in response to the current situation is the shift to the cloud. 53 per cent reported that the COVID-19 crisis had made them accelerate plans for moving all their data to 100 per cent cloud-based model, a change that will have a long-term impact on how organisations operate.
In terms of security: 50 per cent said they would consider making workforce reductions if it meant company data protection and security could be properly funded.
In the UK specifically, 41 per cent of those surveyed had been threatened by at least one cyber security scare since shifting to a remote working model. 41 per cent also expect to see a data breach in the next month due to remote working.
Furthermore, 48 per cent in the UK had also reported an increase in email phishing attacks; 42 per cent are not confident that web application are completely secure; 44 per cent believe their workforce is not properly trained in the cyber risks associated with long-term remote working, and 39 per cent have allowed employees to use personal email addresses and devices to conduct company work. Meanwhile, 37 per cent have already cut their cyber security budget to help tackle COVID-19.
Fleming Shi, CTO, Barracuda Networks comments:
“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. 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.
“Naturally, opportunistic hackers are on the lookout to target vulnerable organisations, which may have weak security infrastructure in place during this difficult time. The risk when cyber security 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.
“As many businesses enter their third month of remote working, it’s time they refocus efforts on tackling this growing cyber threat. 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’.”