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Remote working leads to increases in cyberattacks

Global businesses have seen cyberattacks rise as the world continues to adjust to remote working, with 65% of organisations noting they have either been breached or exposed to an attack. That is a key finding from HLB’s Cybersecurity Report 2020, which surveyed 76 IT professionals on information security and data protection. Chief innovation officer Abu Bakkar writes

From mobile security threats to unauthorised access to files, recent cyberattacks shed light on an increasing problem.

Cyberattacks not only disable programmes and steal data, but they can also cause reputational damage, financial losses and disruptions to business operations. While 65% of our respondents noted their organisation had been targeted, a worrying figure of 35% responded that they had not noticed a difference, potentially raising the question of whether a potential breach had been missed.

Covid-19 has demonstrated how important technology is for business leaders, but the pandemic has truly highlighted the critical role cybersecurity plays. CEOs must work closely with their chief technology officers (CTOs) and IT consultants and recognise the investment needed in this area and build it into their business strategy. Without cybersecurity at the heart of your organisation, can you truly deliver for your customers?


Cyberattacks on the rise in 2020

Our experts’ overwhelming opinion is that phishing attacks are increasing, and social engineering is also on the rise. The impact of social isolation is also playing a key role in the rise in cyberattacks as remote workers do not have their colleagues to double check any potential queries.


Making home offices secure

At the start of the pandemic, CTOs and IT management scrambled to get remote workforces running, facing vulnerabilities across several areas, from securing personal devices to giving access to virtual private networks. These vulnerabilities allowed cyberattacks and data breaches to take place, leading to 88% of respondents noting that their companies had changed their cybersecurity strategies and protocols.


Strengthening cyber-risk strategy

To manage cyber-risk, it is necessary to adapt the three tenets of information security of data availability, data confidentiality and data integrity to remote working.

When asked about the level of security across the three tenets of information security, one in five respondents said they do not believe their online systems are secure. HLB’s global advisory leader, Jim Bourke, points out that much of this is due to “the fact that our workers are still working remotely and touching confidential data, so there continues to be exposure. From a cybersecurity awareness perspective, it is worth noting that the question about data confidentiality should have been answered with ‘100% secure’. We have rules and regulations, like GDPR, so we should be secure. However, the rapid shift to remote working, and with such a large portion of the workforce still working from home, many organisations have just not been able to fully comply in the short time.”


Lessons learned from lockdown

When the pandemic hit, business leaders’ priority was business continuity. However, the cyber-risk management lessons learned continue to build on the common themes of agility and resilience. The lessons business leaders should be aware of are:

  • Improve cybersecurity training and support;
  • Do not wait to prepare IT infrastructure and cybersecurity protocols;
  • Think long-term relief, not short-term solutions;
  • Regularly assess cloud computing threats and vulnerabilities;
  • Addressing cyber-risk is an organisation-wide exercise.




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