Since the COVID pandemic of 2020, 62% of Americans have been working remotely, and 49% are doing so for the first time ever. Many former cubicle and office employees have been rooting for this change for the past decade, and some employers were already listening. Remote work has been on the rise for a while and it does seem to benefit everyone in many ways. Securing remote work will be a key factor in the future of the distributed workplace.
Employees enjoy the change of environment, the added flexibility and the new “pants optional” company culture. Employers are also benefiting from this change as they’re seeing costs of running their businesses decrease. Many of them are moving to cheaper locations or shutting down some offices completely as they are no longer necessary. Working remotely is a win-win in lots of ways and it doesn’t seem as though returning to “business as usual” is in the cards any time in the near future. In fact, 80% of executives say they plan to continue allowing remote work long after the pandemic.
Nevertheless, with all this positive change, there are some new, and serious problems arising from operating businesses in this format. One of the most serious issues; one that must be resolved quickly, is the issue of cybersecurity.
Since the beginning of 2020, and the beginning of the lockdown, there’s been a huge increase in cybercrime. In fact, the FBI reports that cybercrime increased by 300% at the beginning of last year, and much of this came from the weak link that remote work provides to cyber criminals. In just the first 6 weeks of lockdown, cyber attacks targeting remote employees rose by 5x, and 20% of companies report a cybersecurity breach that could be traced back to remote workers.
The Sudden Change
A lot of this has to do with the fact that the switch to remote was so sudden, and IT departments simply did not have the time they needed to prepare for such a change. Seventy-five percent of companies are satisfied with their current network security for their office headquarter. Legacy systems were not built to manage the influx of remote connections. Companies also didn’t have time to prepare for giving security tips to employees.
Sixty percent of companies did advise their employees on security measures such as being wary of suspicious emails, attachments, and pop-ups; making sure antivirus software was activated; and making sure software is always up to date. However, 20% of employees received no tips at all, and with 56% using personal devices and 25% of them not being aware of what security protocols those devices have, this is kind of a big deal.
The majority of employees are using personal devices, which may or may not have security protocols in place. They’re working remotely on WiFi that may be unsecured and/or glitchy, which creates more vulnerability; and they’re connecting to work networks remotely, which also adds to the security risk factors.
Although 60% of companies have implemented multi-factor authentication protocols, this kind of security clearly isn’t enough.
The future of cybersecurity is with a passwordless security system. This removes passwords and replaces them with cryptography and biometrics. They also use risk-based authentication so that every user and every device is checked for risk signals. Frictionless login means no out-of-band messages that could possibly be intercepted. In our new normal of remote work and remote access, passwordless security is an absolute must.