Who could have imagined, just one year ago, that millions of people would be working from home, some for the first time? MSPs, IT support teams, and the companies that employ them have had to adjust to new cybersecurity challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because employees are using devices off-premises and signing on from their home or even public networks, IT has had to find ways to monitor activity and computers remotely. It's more challenging and frustrating to implement and maintain compliance with the best and legally required cybersecurity practices, especially when employees fail to follow cybersecurity protocols when working from home.
Risks Of Remote Work
Earlier this year, TrendMicro released the results of a survey about cybersecurity it had undertaken, and many of those professionals in the IT field weren't surprised by the results. Although employees reported recognizing both the cybersecurity risks of working from home and their responsibility to mitigate those risks, they still admit to risky behaviors and ignoring protocol. For example, 56% of respondents reported using non-work apps on their company devices, with two-thirds of that group uploading company data to the app.1
Aside from cybersecurity, companies have worried about productivity with a home based workforce, especially now that school is in session, and many students are attending virtually. Parents must juggle studies on top of their own. These distractions can lead to decreased accuracy, ignoring cybersecurity protocols, or falling prey to the phishing and ransomware attacks that have increased in frequency now that bad actors realize the vulnerability of a remote workforce. Some companies have already had to shutter their doors due to such attacks, and others have lost clients by failing to adhere to proper cybersecurity standards.
When a company finds itself in such a position, it must retrieve data or restore from backups, preserve its reputation, and harden vulnerabilities to prevent attacks and data leaks in the future. All these tasks take time, cost money, and can decrease productivity. On top of that, companies must determine how to best hold employees responsible for their role in any cybersecurity emergencies, including social engineering attacks.
Productivity At Home
However, it's not all dire news. Although some employees have had to move away from typical business hours, they are often able to take advantage of downtime later in the day or devote the time that would have been spent commuting to completing their tasks. Some employees report being more productive at home, which aligns with a 2012 study out of China that showed a 13% productivity increase when employees worked from home.2
The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly changed the face of business, and we can expect some of these changes to remain. While new risks have arisen, so have new opportunities. Companies that provide information technology and managed services should look for companies that are just as serious about cybersecurity and whose employees are just as dedicated to working securely and productively from home as they are in the office if they want to succeed during these uncertain times. And businesses looking to hire MSPs and offsite IT must recognize that quality email support and cybersecurity has a cost, but spending more upfront can ultimately save money and hassle down the line.
LeadingIT offers 24/7, all-inclusive, fast, and friendly technology and cybersecurity support for nonprofits, manufacturers, schools, accounting firms, religious organizations, government, and law offices with 10-200 employees across the Chicagoland area.