IT leaders say productivity went up during lockdown despite delaying projects and security work

Survey finds that IT leaders plan to increase security measures when offices reopen.

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As companies moved to 100% remote work, IT teams delayed security improvements and revenue-generating projects to get colleagues set up for telecommuting.

A new survey found that despite these shifting priorities, IT executives and managers saw an increase in productivity during the shift to working from home. In the "2020 Work-from-Home IT Impact Study" from Sectigo, 49% of respondents reported that employee productivity at their companies has increased as a result of widespread WFH measures. Only 16% reported a decrease.

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Executives were more likely to report increased productivity than managers and team members with 63% of CXOs seeing an increase as compared with only 40% among the other groups.

Almost 60% of all respondents think that the number of remote workers at their companies will increase somewhat (43%) or significantly (17%) when the pandemic ends. 

The downside of remote work was that nearly 40% of companies surveyed had to delay revenue-generating initiatives for a month or more to prioritize remote work and ensure businesses were fully operational with little downtime.

Also, 44% reported that they had to postpone cybersecurity initiatives for a month or more as they focused on telework setup.

A majority of respondents believe that their companies are investing enough on cybersecurity. However, when specifically asked about the steps that their organizations would take once offices reopen, nearly 60% of respondents said that their level of security for data and applications would increase. 

Tim Callan, a senior fellow at Sectigo, said that the increasing complexity of digital environments and disruptive risks of the pandemic mean that IT departments should consider automation for security practices, for everything from remote access to patch deployment.  

While employees are still working from home on a regular basis, businesses should implement PKI-based strong digital identities for all employees, as well as and mobile devices – whether company-owned or BYOD, Callan said.

"Doing so enables the strongest-available protections against intrusion and social engineering attacks, without impeding employees' ability to get their work done," he said.

IT pros named standard security concerns as their top worries and put phishing  and insecure Wi-Fi as the biggest threats with concerns around Zoom-bombing and BYOD devices at only 28%.

new report from Gartner predicts a drop in security spending in the second half of 2020. In another survey, IT pros said that 100% remote work has created an increased workload for their departments, particularly when it comes to security.

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The survey found that companies are more likely to use username and password (65%) and hardware-token multi-factor authentication (50%) than more modern security tools such as user identity certificates (56%) and biometrics (26%).

Wakefield Research conducted the survey in May for Sectigo and polled 500 IT professionals at companies with at least 1,000 employees in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Ireland, and the UK, to understand the impact of COVID-19 on large businesses.

Also see

How to become a cybersecurity pro: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
Kubernetes security guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic download)
Information security policy (TechRepublic Premium)
Online security 101: Tips for protecting your privacy from hackers and spies (ZDNet)
All the VPN terms you need to know (CNET)
Cybersecurity and cyberwar: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)

By Veronica Combs

Veronica is an independent journalist and communications strategist. For more than 10 years, she has covered health and healthcare with a focus on innovation and patient engagement. She led AIR Louisville, a three-year digital health project focused ...