84% of businesses are set to increase WFH capacities beyond the pandemic despite security woes, says Pulse Secure and Cybersecurity Insiders’ latest report
Despite security issues and concerns resulting from the massive and sudden increase in work-from-home (WFH) initiatives caused by the global COVID-19 healthcare crisis, one-third (38%) of U.S. companies observed productivity gains during remote work and a staggering 84% anticipate broader and more permanent WFH adoption beyond the pandemic, according to new data today released by Pulse Secure, the leading provider of software-defined Secure Access solutions.
The 2020 Remote Work-From-Home Cybersecurity Report, sponsored by Pulse Secure and produced by Cybersecurity Insiders, offers an in-depth perspective on WFH challenges, concerns, strategies and anticipated outcomes. The survey, conducted in May of 2020, polled over 400 IT security decision practitioners across a broad representation of industries and companies between 500 and over 5,000 employees. The survey found that 33% of U.S. companies anticipate some positions moving to permanent remote work and over half (55%) plan to increase their budget for secure remote work in the near-term.
WFH adoption accelerated cloud app growth and business continuity challenges
The research indicates that three-quarters of businesses now have more than 76% of their employees working from home compared to just under 25% at the close of 2019. While a third of respondents cited their business being “ill prepared or not prepared” for remote working, 75% of businesses were able to transition to remote working within 15 days. Surprisingly, less than a third expressed cost or budget problems, demonstrating the urgency to support their business. Additionally, more than half (54%) expressed that COVID-19 has accelerated migration of users’ workflows and applications to the cloud.
Increase in WFH employees fuels security and compliance issues
In terms of security risks, two-thirds (69%) are concerned with WFH security risks with the majority expressing low user awareness training, insecure home/public WiFi networks, use of at-risk personal devices and sensitive data leakage as prime threat contributors. In terms of application exposure, respondents feel anxious over file sharing (68%), web apps (47%), and video conferencing (45%) risks.
While 78% expressed enforcing the same level of security controls and data management for on-premise and remote users, a further 65% allowed access from personal, unmanaged devices. Two-thirds of IT security professionals anticipate malware, phishing, unauthorised user and device access, and unpatched/at risk systems to be the most exploitable WFH attack vectors. In addition, 63% expressed that remote work could impact compliance mandates that apply to their organisation; especially GDRP, PCI-DSS, HIPAA and those with data breach notification.
Wider trends toward security tools consolidation
Survey respondents employed various tools to secure remote work / home office scenarios with the top four controls being endpoint security, Firewalls, virtual private networks (SSL-VPN) and multi-factor authentication (MFA). According to separate research by Enterprise Management Associates, 57% of organisations regard the consolidation of access management solutions into a single platform to be a high or extreme priority for their business this year.
The WFH and tool consolidation trends coincide with a recent update to Pulse Access Suite, a secure access solution set that provides easy access for mobile workforces and a single-pane-of-glass to streamline provisioning, management and scalability. The Suite integrates adaptive identity and device authentication, protected connectivity, extensive visibility and analytics, and threat response for hybrid IT. Organisations can centrally orchestrate Zero Trust policy to ensure compliant access to applications, resources and services across mobile, network and multi-cloud environments.