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New Remote Workforce Creating Massive Security Risks for Businesses

August 14, 2020

By Laura Stotler - Virtual PBX Contributing Editor

The vast increase in the number of remote workers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has created a variety of business security risks. A new survey from CyberArk shows that critical business systems and sensitive data are in danger of being breached because of sloppy remote work habits as well as a number of other factors.

Working parents are the biggest culprits when it comes to creating security risks, according to a survey from the Israeli-American cybersecurity firm. Often multi-tasking as workers, caregivers and teachers while at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, working parents have developed some dangerous security practices.

The survey, conducted in late April through an independent agency, queried 3,000 remote office workers and IT professionals across the US, UK, France and Germany. It found that 93 percent of working parents reused passwords across applications and devices, while 29 percent allow other household members to use corporate devices for schoolwork, gaming and shopping. Another 37 percent insecurely save passwords in browser applications on their corporate devices.

Parents aren't the only ones at fault, however, and 77 percent of all remote employees revealed using unmanaged, insecure "BYOD" devices to access sensitive corporate systems and data. A further 66 percent of employees use tools like Zoom and Microsoft teams, both of which have recently reported security vulnerabilities.

“The security posture of organizations continues to be tested as many remote employees face daunting challenges balancing productivity and security across their professional and personal workspaces,” said Marianne Budnik, CMO of CyberArk. “As more organizations extend work-from-home policies for the long term, it’s important to capture lessons learned from the initial phases of remote work and shape future cybersecurity strategies that don’t require employees to make tradeoffs that could put their company at risk.”

IT and security operations teams are at least partly to blame for the vulnerabilities. The survey found that 94 percent of IT teams were confident they could secure the new remote workforce, yet 40 percent of them had not increased security protocols.

The new widespread remote workforce brings with it a slew of new endpoints, applications and cloud services, all of which put sensitive corporate data and systems at risk. The survey shows IT teams need to step up and secure the network perimeter, endpoints and cloud workloads or face serious repercussions in the form of hacking and malicious activity.


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