Execs don't sound very confident about long-term network security in the WFH era

After a somewhat clunky initial switch to remote work, it looks like hybrid offices are here to stay; at least for now. But a new report highlights concerns about the long-term resiliency of remote networks.

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Image: GettyImages/Laurence Dutton

On Wednesday, Sungard Availability Services published the results of a survey highlighting sentiments about hybrid work moving forward, critical tools for remote employees and network security. While many companies are planning for long-term remote operations, faith in the security of their infrastructure doesn't exactly beam confidence.

"As organizations plan to keep hybrid work in place full time, they need to properly support it, which may require adjustments to their technologies or security policies," said Shawn Burke, Global Chief Security Officer at Sungard AS, in a press release. "Now is the time to modernize your infrastructure and secure your environment to support a long-term remote workforce."

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Hybrid work and security challenges

The switch to remote and hybrid work introduces new security challenges for companies, as telecommuters log on for the virtual workday via their home networks using a mixed bag of company and personal devices. Interestingly, the sentiments regarding future remote operations don't appear to align with perceived security levels needed to protect these models.

The vast majority of respondents (89%) said they believe a "mix of remote and in-office working is the ideal work situation" after the upcoming Labor Day holiday, according to the report, and 83% plan to use these frameworks on this timeline. While three-quarters of companies have adopted a hybrid work arrangement, only 21% "are fully confident their infrastructure security can support long-term remote work," according to the report. 

SEE: Juggling remote work with kids' education is a mammoth task. Here's how employers can help (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

According to the raw dataset, 56% of respondents said they were moderately confident that their company's "infrastructure security can operate in a long-term" remote work model and 22% were somewhat confident in these operations. While 66% of respondents were moderately confident that their security measures "against phishing or ransomware attacks are adequate" in a predominantly "virtual environment," 25% said they were somewhat confident, based on this raw data.

Cybersecurity attacks surge

In 2020, the total number of complaints reported to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) increased 69% compared to 2019, according to a recent FBI/CIS advisory; between January and July 31 of this year, the number of ransomware complaints increased 62% compared to this time period last year. And the resulting ransomware payouts are also on teh rise.

In the first six months of 2021, ransomware payments surged 82% to $570,000 on average, according to Unit 42's Ransomware Threat Report. In the aftermath of the Colonial Pipeline attack, the company shelled out more than $4 million to Darkside hackers, according to a Wall Street Journal interview with the CEO. After the JBS attack, the company paid the REvil group $11 million.

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