It is no surprise that moving to a fully remote work environment due to COVID-19 would cause a number of changes in organizations’ approaches to cybersecurity. What has been surprising, however, are some of the unanticipated shifts in employee habits and how they have impacted the security posture of businesses large and small.
Our latest Malwarebytes Labs report, Enduring from Home: COVID-19’s Impact on Business Security, reveals some unexpected data about security concerns with today’s remote workforce.
Our report combines Malwarebytes product telemetry with survey results from 200 IT and cybersecurity decision makers from small businesses to large enterprises, unearthing new security concerns that surfaced after the pandemic forced US businesses to send their workers home.
The data showed that since organizations moved to a work from home (WFH) model, the potential for cyberattacks and breaches has increased. While this isn’t entirely unexpected, the magnitude of this increase is surprising. Since the start of the pandemic, 20 percent of respondents said they faced a security breaches as a result of a remote worker. This in turn has increased costs, with 24 percent of respondents saying they paid unexpected expenses to address a cybersecurity breach or malware attack following shelter-in-place orders.
We noticed a stark increase in the use of personal devices for work: 28 percent of respondents admitted they’re using personal devices for work-related activities more than their work-issued devices. Beyond that, we found that 61 percent of respondents’ organizations did not urge employees to use antivirus solutions on their personal devices, further compounding the increase in attack surface with a lack of adequate protection.
We found a startling contrast between the IT leaders’ confidence in their security during the transition to work from home (WFH) environments, and their actual security postures, demonstrating a continued problem of security hubris. Roughly three quarters (73.2 percent) of our survey respondents gave their organizations a score of 7 or above on preparedness for the transition to WFH, yet 45 percent of respondents’ organizations did not perform security and online privacy analyses of necessary software tools for WFH collaboration.
Additional report takeaways
- 18 percent of respondents admitted that, for their employees, cybersecurity was not a priority, while 5 percent said their employees were a security risk and oblivious to security best practices.
- At the same time, 44 percent of respondents’ organizations did not provide cybersecurity training that focused on potential threats of working from home (like ensuring home networks had strong passwords, or devices were not left within reach of non-authorized users).
- While 61 percent of respondents’ organizations provided work-issued devices to employees as needed, 65 percent did not deploy a new antivirus (AV) solution for those same devices.
To learn more about the increasing risks uncovered in today’s remote workforce population, read our full report: