Surge in Security Concerns Due to Remote Working During COVID-19 Crisis


New global research from Barracuda Networks of over 1000 business decision-makers reveals that 49% of global businesses expect to see a cyber attack in the next month due to remote working, despite this, 41% have cut cyber budgets to cope with COVID-19.

LONDON, 6th May 2020 – Almost half (46%) of global businesses have encountered at least one cybersecurity scare since shifting to a remote working model during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to official research by Barracuda Networks, the trusted partner and leading provider for cloud-enabled security solutions. An astounding 49 percent also said they expect to see a data breach or cybersecurity incident in the next month due to remote working.

The global survey, which was commissioned by Barracuda and conducted by independent research agency Censuswide, includes answers from over 1,000 business decision-makers in the UK, U.S., France, and Germany. More than half of respondents (51 percent) said they have already seen an increase in email phishing attacks since shifting to a remote working model.

The increase in cyber and email phishing attacks aimed at businesses is a result of a rushed, insecure execution of a 100 percent remote working model. Fifty-one percent of business decision-makers agreed that their workforce is not proficient or adequately trained in the cyber risks associated with long-term remote working. Additionally, 46 percent claimed they are not confident that their web applications are completely secure, and 50 percent have allowed employees to use personal email addresses and personal devices to conduct company work.

Most worryingly, two in five businesses (41 percent) have admitted to cutting their cybersecurity budget as a cost-saving measure to help tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

Furthermore, according to the Barracuda survey, 55 percent of respondents said they would not have implemented remote working within the next five years had it not been for the current crisis, and more than half (56 percent) of respondents said they plan to continue widespread remote working after the crisis is over. 

Another transition that has sped up in response to the current situation is the shift to the cloud. Fifty-three percent reported that the COVID-19 crisis had made them accelerate plans for moving all their data to 100 percent cloud-based model, a change that will have a long-term impact on how organizations operate.

In terms of security: 50 percent said they would consider making workforce reductions if it meant company data protection and security could be adequately funded.

In the UK specifically, 41 percent of those surveyed had been threatened by at least one cybersecurity scare since shifting to a remote working model. Forty-one percent also expect to see a data breach in the next month due to remote working.

Furthermore:

  •  48 percent in the UK had also reported an increase in email phishing attacks
  • 42 percent are not confident that web their application is completely secure
  • 44 percent believe their workforce is not trained correctly in the cyber risks associated with long-term remote working
  • 39 percent have allowed employees to use personal email addresses and devices to conduct company work 
  • 37 percent have already cut their cybersecurity budget to help tackle COVID-19

Fleming Shi, CTO, Barracuda Networks comments:

“Due to the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses have been forced to instantly implement a remote working system to protect the health and safety of employees.

Inevitably, the switch to a complete remote working model in such a short space of time brings with it a myriad of security challenges, particularly with many employees using personal devices to exchange and share data.

“Naturally, opportunistic hackers are on the lookout to target vulnerable organizations, which may have weak security infrastructure in place during this difficult time. The risk when cybersecurity is de-prioritized or neglected by businesses is that hackers can target untrained, susceptible remote workers with increasingly sophisticated and incredibly realistic-looking email phishing attacks.

“As many businesses enter their third month of remote working, it’s time they refocus efforts on tackling this growing cyber threat. At this crucial time, one successful data breach could be the final straw for many businesses that are already facing an uphill battle against COVID-19. And in the current threat-scape, it’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ a company’s security will be tested by cybercriminals, it’s a matter of ‘when.’”