Cyber Security: Work from Home Is Here to Stay

In: Professional Services / By: Flint

Work From Home

It’s been more than a year since work from home became the “new normal” for millions of workers worldwide. With experts determining that work from home is here to stay, even after COVID-19 restrictions will ease or end, it’s high time to make your company’s network the safest possible.

In 2019 about 5,4% of employees in the EU1 and about 7% of workers in the US2 regularly worked from home. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 these numbers have increased greatly. They peaked in April 2020 and leveled at about 48% in the EU3 and 56% in the US4 in the early months of 2021. This shift has put a lot of stress on IT departments everywhere and exposed cybersecurity gaps, that needed to be addressed quickly.

Work from Home Isn’t Going Anywhere

Though COVID restrictions are slowly easing in most countries, work from home will become a staple for millions of workers worldwide. A recent Gartner CFO survey found that 74% of companies plan to permanently shift employees to remote work after the pandemic ends5. Big ICT companies have led the way – Twitter and Square announced in May 2020 that employees might work from home indefinitely6; and Microsoft’s Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene announced in March 2021 that the company plans to implement a hybrid workplace and that employees will have the option to work from home at least part time even after the COVID-19 crisis’ end7.

Not returning to the office (full time) means that many companies will have to update and expand their current work from home “infrastructure”. This means to up the security, update existing hardware and software, and educate their employees on best practices. Flint has been helping companies throughout the pandemic, consulting on how to provide secure remote working and, where required, implementing them.

Cyber Security Threats Increase Exponentially

According to CyberCrime Magazine, cybercrime will inflict damages totalling $6 trillion USD globally in 2021. Ransomware has developed into the “go-to method of attack” for cybercriminals and the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Steve Morgan predicts that there will be a ransomware attack every 11 seconds by 20218. Similarly, the U.N. disarmament chief warned in May 2020 that the number of malicious emails has increased by 600% since the beginning of the COVID crisis9. All this is putting businesses at a greater risk than ever to become victims of cybercrime.

Businesses’ needs for comprehensive cybersecurity have significantly increased within the last year, with Flint experiencing a rise in the demand for cybersecurity professionals and services. The first step towards a safer “cyber” work environment are regular Security Healthchecks that help companies understand and assess their security risks and increase security where needed.

Security Work From Home

Security Healthchecks for Safer Work from Home

Flint offers Network Security and Cloud Security Audits by experienced and fully trained security consultants. Our experts will assess businesses’ unified communications (UC) environment and security needs, help customers understand risks and align risk management while improving operational efficiency and optimising resource spending.

Every step towards a safer environment starts with assessing the current situation. Our experts will dive into customers’ networks, review network design, security settings, password policies and more, depending on their needs. At the end of every engagement, our consultants deliver a detailed report with their findings, recommendations, and next steps.

Example: Work from Home Exposes UC Platform to Additional External Cyber Security Threats

Over the years, businesses have deployed UC solutions that have only been partially utilised for the odd day working from home here or there. With COVID driving the vast majority of employees to turn their kitchen into their office, the UC infrastructure has been found to be stressed to levels that weren’t previously expected. As these confidential discussions shift from the boardroom to the kitchen, the security level of the UC solution has been exposed, with a number of IT departments suddenly realising that they never actually managed to get around to introducing a robust security policy. In a higher volume of cases than you would expect, not even getting around to changing the usernames and password from admin, admin…

A two-day remote Security Healthcheck by Flint’s consultants will provide businesses with a thorough analysis of their UC platform. Our consultants will provide them with their key findings, recommendations, and next steps. This might mean updating firewall configurations, password policies or security settings.

If the challenge lies within a lagging network due to the increased demand of employees working from home, Flint’s consultants can also help get businesses back on track. A two-day remote assessment will provide in-depth findings and recommendations to bring UC platforms back to peak performance, avoiding employee frustration and the loss of productivity.

Are you interested in our Network and Cloud UC Security Audit services? Reach out to us for more information!

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Sources:

1 European Union, 2020. SCIENCE FOR POLICY BRIEFS: Telework in the EU before and after the COVID-19: where we were, where we head to, https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/sites/jrcsh/files/jrc120945_policy_brief_-_covid_and_telework_final.pdf
2 Desilver, D., Working from home was a luxury for the relatively affluent before coronavirus – not any more, World Economic Forum, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/working-from-home-coronavirus-workers-future-of-work/
3 Fernandes, D., Pandemic sends almost half EU employees into remote working, 8 March 2021, Euractiv, https://www.euractiv.com/section/digital/news/pandemic-sends-almost-half-eu-employees-into-remote-working/
4 Lardieri, A., Poll: Americans Like Working at Home, 12 February 2021, U.S. News, https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2021-02-12/majority-of-americans-work-remotely-a-year-into-coronavirus-pandemic-poll-finds
5 Lavelle, J., Gartner CFO Survey Reveals 74% Intend to Shift Some Employees to Remote Work Permanently, 3 April 2020, Gartner, https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-03-gartner-cfo-surey-reveals-74-percent-of-organizations-to-shift-some-employees-to-remote-work-permanently2
6 Castrillon, C., This Is the Future Of Remote Work In 2021, 27 December 2020, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2021/12/27/this-is-the-future-of-remote-work-in-2021/?sh=5a7bff061e1d
7 DelBene, K., The philosophy and practice of our hybrid workplace, 22 March 2021, Microsoft, https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2021/03/22/the-philosophy-and-practice-of-our-hybrid-workplace/
8 Morgan, S., Cybercrime To Cost The World $10.5 Trillion Annually By 2025, 13 November 2020, Cybercrime Magazine, https://cybersecurityventures.com/cybercrime-damages-6-trillion-by-2021/
9 The Associated Press, The Latest: UN warns cybercrime on rise during pandemic, 23 May 2020, https://apnews.com/article/6ba6af57fd96e25334d8a06fcf999e7f

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