According to Tessian research, 75% of IT leaders and 89% of employees believe the future of work will be “remote” or “hybrid” – a combination of working in the office and remotely.
This will have a significant impact on companies’ IT departments, who will be under pressure to deliver a seamless experience and create strategies that empower employees to work remotely and securely. In fact, 85% of IT leaders think they and their team will be under more pressure if their organization were to adopt a permanent remote working structure.
In this blog, we look at their top 7 concerns and explain how to overcome them.
1. Employee wellbeing
Half of IT leaders’ are worried about staff’s wellbeing when they work remotely – making it the top concern among IT professionals.
Remote work can be incredibly stressful for employees. A survey by online employment platform Monster reported that over two-thirds of U.S. workers have experienced burnout symptoms while working from home. Why? Because people are more distracted, they’re taking less time off work, and they’re working longer hours. 61% of employees in another Tessian report said a culture of presenteeism in their organization makes them work longer hours than they need to.
The problem is that when people are stressed, tired and distracted, they make more mistakes that could compromise cybersecurity. In fact, 46% of employees say make more mistakes when they feel burned out.
IT professionals must recognize the correlation between employee wellbeing, their productivity, and security if they want to keep data and systems safe in a remote work world. Lead with empathy and find ways to prevent stressed and distracted employees from making costly cybersecurity mistakes.
2.Unsafe data practices
46% of IT leaders are also worried about employees practicing unsafe cybersecurity behaviors.
Their concerns are valid. A report published by Tessian in May 2020 revealed that 48% of employees feel they can get away with riskier cybersecurity behaviors when working from home, namely because they are working from unfamiliar devices and because they aren’t being watched by IT teams. A further 54% said they’ll find a workaround if security software or policies prevent them from doing their job.
Educating employees on safe cybersecurity practices is a necessary first step. However, only 57% of companies implemented additional training at the start of the remote working period in March 2020. This isn’t trivial; businesses must continually educate staff on safe data practices because cybersecurity is rarely at the front of mind for every employee.
Businesses should also ensure that security solutions or policies do not stand in the way of people getting their jobs done. Workers will find the easiest or most convenient path, and this can often involve skirting around security rules. Security should, therefore, be as flexible as people’s working practices in order to mitigate unsafe behaviors online.
3. More data breaches
Half of organizations we surveyed said they experienced a data breach or security incident between March and July 2020 – the period in which mandatory remote work arrangements were enforced. Consequently, 40% of IT leaders are worried their company will experience more data breaches if people continue to work remotely.
The causes of these data breaches included phishing attacks (49%), malware (45%) and malicious insider attacks (43%). In addition, 78% of IT leaders said they think their organization is at greater risk of insider threats when staff work from home.
To prevent data breaches caused by insider threats – and other threats caused by human error – IT teams need greater visibility into their riskiest and most at-risk employees. Only by understanding employees’ behaviors, can businesses tailor policies and training to prevent people’s actions from compromising company security and breaching sensitive data.
4. More phishing attacks
Half of the security incidents reported between March-July 2020 were caused by successful phishing attacks – making phishing the top attack vector during this period of remote working.
Of the 78% of remote workers that received phishing emails while working on their personal devices, an overwhelming 68% clicked a link or downloaded an attachment from the malicious messages they received. It’s not surprising, then, that 82% of IT leaders think their organization is at greater risk of phishing attacks when people work remotely.
But why is phishing a greater risk for remote workers?
Because it is not uncommon for an employee to receive information about a new software update for a video conferencing app, or an email from a healthcare organization providing tips on how to stay safe, or a request from a supplier asking them to update payment details.
In fact, 43% of IT professionals said their staff had received phishing emails with hackers impersonating software brands, while 34% said they’d received emails from cybercriminals pretending to be an external supplier.
If the sender’s email domain looks legitimate and if hackers have used the correct logos in the body of the email, there’s very little reason why an employee would suspect they were the target of a scam. And, when working remotely, employees can’t easily verify the email with a colleague. They may, then, click the link to “join the meeting”, download the “new update” or share account credentials.
To learn more about how to spot a spear phishing email, read our blog here.