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Cyber

Covid-19 remote-work response

The cyber firm Infoblox surveyed 1,077 global IT security people to find out their thoughts on how Covid-19 will impact cyber-security. Only a third of UK IT decision-makers felt they were ‘very prepared’ for remote-working. Network security is the biggest remote-working challenge for UK IT teams (cited by 39pc of those surveyed) followed by distribution of approved devices (31pc).

Cost is the biggest challenge in the UK (cited by 34pc) when it comes to moving more operations to the cloud as part of the Covid-19 remote-work response, followed by lack of team expertise (24pc), unsure about meeting security compliance in the cloud (27pc) and lack of visibility once workloads move into the cloud (15pc).

Most, 62pc of UK organisations surveyed said they have changed at least some policies about the use of personal apps such as Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and Houseparty on work devices. Some 39pc said they used to prohibit these apps on work devices but now allow them and 23pc said they used to allow them, but now prohibit.

Comment

COVID-19 has meant businesses have had to work differently. Will this shift to remote working become permanent for some enterprises after the crisis passes?

Malcolm Murphy, Technical Director, EMEA, at Infoblox: With the UK in lockdown, the majority of businesses have been forced to re-equip their workforce for remote working. Many businesses will have found that remote working worked better than they expected. However, people encouraged to work from home when their employers are not necessarily set up for it, will be using personal devices, ie laptops or mobile phones, for work purposes. Whether the IT team likes it or not, there has been and will continue to be, a huge increase in the number of shadow IT devices (active devices in use without the IT team’s knowledge) being used by employees, as well as the use of collaboration applications not approved by the company, such as communications apps. 

Once things start to level out, I expect that this will accelerate the drive to this form of working being the new normal, or at least a much bigger part of the way we work. Organisations will then have to distinguish what compromises they took in urgent times, which will be imperative to address for long term success. By taking these measures, organisations will be able to implement the next level of security. 

Technology has clearly been a godsend to enable remote working to take place. How do you see this expanding and changing?

Malcolm Murphy: Fortunately for remote workers, easily accessed devices like laptops, tablets and smartphones are now able to adopt the required technology needed to solve work related problems. In many cases, from the resources provided on personal devices, this eliminates reference to IT security departments. Yet the increased use of IoT devices and remote conferencing services is a major cause for concern as it puts corporate networks at risk. An example of this can be seen from the UK government, who have been hosting their virtual cabinet meetings over one such video conference service just days after another government department deemed it unsafe. The net result from this will be an increase in the use of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) throughout workplaces. People will use what works for them, and while that could become an increasing security risk, the pace is not going to slow down.

We’ve seen both sides of cloud: on the one hand, the convenience and flexibility of simply being able to buy more services and have them instantly on has been an enabler; on the other hand, it’s highlighted the downside of dependence on third-party services. I think we’ll see more use of cloud services, but with more thought about business continuity and multiple service providers. From this, businesses will see consolidation toward the big providers. 


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