Businesses see increase in cybersecurity breach attempts amid shift to remote work, report says

November 24, 2020 - 7:53 PM
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Woman working from home
Stock photo of a woman working from home. (Pexels/Peter Olexa)

An increase in cyber threats such as phishing and business email breaches were experienced by various organizations amid the shift in remote work, a report said.

Telework or work-from-home arrangements became the new norm in the past months after government’s imposed strict lockdowns to help prevent the spread of the virus which causes COVID-19.

In a report by cybersecurity firm Fortinet, more than half of the respondents or 60% of organizations saw an increase in attempts of cybersecurity breaches. Meanwhile, 34% of them experienced actual breaches in their networks.

The sudden shift to telecommuting or remote work in the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic became a challenge to 83% of these organizations. They described the work set-up “as moderately, very, or extremely challenging.”

Only three percent said they were not challenged by the shift..

The report was based on a survey conducted in June among  employees from 17 different countries, representing nearly all industries and the public sector.

Based on the report, the surge in cases of cybersecurity threats could be attributed to the reliance on personal device usage and overall influx of workers outside the corporate network.

“With a spike in employees remotely connecting to the corporate network, an increase in breach attempts and overall cyber-attacks, organizations cited the most challenging aspects of this transition as ensuring secure connections, business continuity, and access to business-critical applications,” the report read.

Because of these incidents, organizations have since invested in key technologies at the time of the survey such as cloud security and a virtual private network.

Nearly 60% of them also invested more than $250,000 in secure telework investments in the next 24 months as they anticipate their employees to continue working remotely in the near future.

John Maddison, EVP of Products and CMO at Fortinet, said that organizations will have to train their employees in battling cyber threats and attacks in the long run.

“They have an opportunity to maximize their investments with cybersecurity platforms designed to provide comprehensive visibility and protection across the entire digital infrastructure, including networked, application, multi-cloud, and mobile environments,” Maddison said.

“This ongoing shift to remote work will also require more than just technology; cybersecurity training and awareness should also remain key priorities,” he added.

Cybersecurity tips for Students

Aside from employees, another cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks recognized that students are also now prone to cybercrime because of virtual classes.

Jen Miller-Osborn, Deputy Director of Threat Intelligence for Unit 42 at Palo Alto Networks, provided simple and helpful practices parents can apply to keep their children safe from cybercrime while also adjusting to virtual classes amid the pandemic.

  • Understand what your child is doing online.
  • Be aware of suspicious behavior with video conferencing applications.
  • Explain the importance of strong passwords.
  • Teach them about the dangers of clicking random links and websites. They have to ask parents for permission first before they open these links.
  • Discuss to them the boundaries on what they can post online and the dangers of sharing too much.
  • Keep systems up to date.