Firms putting cybersecurity plans on hold during pandemic

Despite a current pause on cybersecurity projects, UK firms foresee the need for additional measures to cope with widespread remote working

Posted 22 June 2020 by Christine Horton

Forty-five percent of UK firms have had to postpone cybersecurity initiatives for one month or longer as they focused on remote work setup during CVOID-19.

The figures come from new research by digital identity firm Sectigo’s 2020 Work-from-Home IT Impact Study.

Sectigo notes that despite the current pause on cybersecurity projects, 95 percent of UK firms are likely to undertake additional measures to improve security and business continuity in the next 12 months. This is due to increased remote working.

Fifty-two percent indicate they would increase security for data and applications, compared to the pre-COVID-19 level once offices are reopened.

The survey reveals that IT pros believe phishing or other malicious emails (47 percent) and insecure Wi-Fi (48 percent) pose a risk to remote work environments. This outweighs concerns around Zoom-bombing, as well as unknown personal computers and BYOD devices (27 percent).

However, Sectigo argues that authentication technologies such as user identity certificates (58 percent) and biometrics (26 percent), frequently take a back seat to methods with widely known weaknesses. These include traditional username and password (74 percent) and hardware-token multi-factor authentication (68 percent).

“As C-Level executives continue to embrace the increased productivity of a distributed workforce, they need to consider new approaches to security that rely on automation and secure digital identities,” said Sectigo CEO Bill Holtz.

“The enterprise currently uses a mix of authentication tools that frequently includes outdated or weak methods. This research indicates that with many employees remaining at home for the foreseeable future or even permanently, refining how we grant and manage digital access is more important than ever.”

Compliance with government standards

March 2020 saw the beginning of worldwide lockdown measures that forced most businesses worldwide to work remotely. The survey notes that this has in many cases led to improvements in performance. Almost half of UK respondents report that employee productivity at their company has increased since they started working from home.

However, more than seven out of 10 IT pros don’t feel confident of their company’s compliance with industry and government standards on digital identity during remote work.

Sectigo speculates this could stem from how much IT pros anticipate increases in data security. Those who don’t expect to increase data security measures after offices reopen are more likely (77 percent) to report that they do not feel completely confident, more than those who do (66 percent).