Remote working leaves SMEs vulnerable to cyberattacks

New research shows healthcare top of the list as target for cybercriminals

Posted 13 October 2021 by Christine Horton

Almost nine out of 10 (89 percent) healthcare leaders say that remote working has added extra cyber risk for their infrastructure.

The figures come from new research from datacentre firm ServerChoice into how remote working is leading to increased cybersecurity risks for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

ServerChoice’s research found that changes in working patterns are resulting in infrastructure being left unmonitored and business data being rendered more vulnerable to exploitation.

Lockdowns and the pandemic have induced new working patterns, meaning that many technical staff at SMEs are now based remotely. As a result, 77 percent of SMEs see remote working as an increased risk to their business. The cause behind this heightened risk is due to a lack of access to business infrastructure – ServerChoice’s research discovered that two-thirds of SMEs (66 percent) now find it harder to monitor their infrastructure, while 25 percent have opted to leave infrastructure unmonitored altogether, posing a large risk if they should fall victim to a cyber-attack in future.

It is clear that while remote working is convenient for many, the increased distance between technical staff and their infrastructure, and the subsequent delay time in maintenance and disaster response, presents an opportunity for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities.

Some industries more at risk than others

The research singled out education, healthcare, and financial industries as regular targets of cybercriminals as their data is vital for day-to-day operations. In retail, many SME vendors are still adapting to the increase in online transactions brought about by the pandemic, making them more susceptible to breaches of security too.

But despite believing that there is an increased risk brought on by flexible working practices, 1 in 5 retail and education SMEs still leave their infrastructure unmonitored.

Sixteen percent of healthcare businesses and 18 percent of financial services businesses also do the same.

Adam Bradshaw, commercial director at ServerChoice, stated that “Although it may not appear on a balance sheet, data is one of the most valuable assets for any business. Offices and laptops can be replaced, but a company’s proprietary data cannot.

“Our research has found that remote working is exposing SMEs to additional risk of compromise and some businesses are being forced to leave infrastructure unmonitored. This is a big risk. It could lead to data breaches that expose sensitive data or even leave systems open to encryption and ransomware attacks.

“It is imperative that SMEs treat their data and IT infrastructure like any other asset and properly secure it. If SMEs are unable to secure their infrastructure due to remote working or a lack of expertise, they must find a custodian who can do it on their behalf, or run the risk of having their data comprised in the future.”