Cybersecurity and remote work: How workers are handling the shift

Working remotely presents key security challenges, but employees may actually be following security rules more carefully when working from home, says 1Password.

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The spread of the coronavirus has triggered a radical and sudden shift in the way we all live and work and socialize. One dramatic change has been the transition to remote working as organizations shut their doors and employees are encouraged to self-quarantine. Such a quick change could easily open the door to a host of issues related to security and support. But a survey from password manager 1Password suggests that IT staffers and employees are managing the move better than perhaps expected.

Based on a survey of 1,000 desk-based knowledge workers and computer users in the US, 1Password found that 89% of all respondents have recently made the shift to remote work. Among those surveyed, 27% thought their company was completely prepared for the transition, while 13% felt their company wasn't at all prepared. With the majority falling somewhere in the middle, the indication is that most organizations were at least in the midst of some type of phase toward greater remote working.

SEE: Life after lockdown: Your office job will never be the same--here's what to expect (cover story PDF) (TechRepublic)

A shift to remote working often requires security modifications. Among the respondents, 30% said that their IT groups strengthened some security protocols and requirements, while 29% said that certain protocols and requirements had to be loosened. Some 36% said there were no adjustments to their security protocols. Drilling down further, 46% of the SMBs said they relaxed some security requirements, compared with just 19% of larger firms.

Of course, companies can strengthen some requirements and loosen others, a mix that 1Password said it failed to allow for in the survey. For example, organizations may implement tighter security policies for passwords, two-factor authentication, and data access but allow remote workers to use a wider variety of apps and services to accomplish their jobs.

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1Password

Despite concerns that people at home may not be following security protocols, the opposite is the case, according to the survey. Among the IT workers polled, 63% said they believe employees are actually adhering to security guidelines better when working from home. And 58% of the employees agreed with that assessment. Such a factor might be because people working in their corporate offices are lulled into a greater sense of security, says 1Password, which doesn't necessarily translate when you're working by yourself at your home.

SEE: Cybersecurity: Let's get tactical (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

There are also lessons learned with the shift to remote working, especially with security. A full 84% of the employees surveyed said it's more important to have security at work than convenience when it comes to IT support. Some 35% of the SMBs who have implemented stronger management and security for cloud-based services said they plan to make that a permanent change. However, just 20% of those at larger firms echoed that idea.

As employees work at home, there's still a need for IT and help desk support, in some cases an even greater need than at the office. Some of the top IT requests from remote workers involved connectivity issues, setting up devices, and managing software updates. But IT seems to be coming to the rescue. A full 89% of the respondents said they had no criticisms of their IT support teams.

Finally, many of those now working remotely apparently like it, at least enough to want to continue it as their offices reopen. Among the respondents, 34% said they'd prefer to work from home and 32% said they'd prefer to work in the office, but 34% said they'd prefer a mix of both.

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1Password

Conducted between April 15 and 23, 1Password's survey targeted 1,000 desk-based knowledge workers in the United States, with half of them IT professionals.

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