Remote working 'posing cyber attack risks'

A major survey of UK companies has exposed mounting concerns over firms' vulnerability to cyber attacks because of the massive increase in remote working during the pandemic.

Image of remote employee logging in via VPN on desktop
Research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and tech company Cisco among almost 1,000 firms showed that more than half believed the growth in hybrid working had left their IT systems more exposed to attack.
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Over the past year, the research revealed that one in ten companies had experienced cyber attacks - a figure that rose to one in seven among larger firms with 50 or more employees.Despite this, four out of five managements admitted they still did not have accredited cyber-security measures in place.

Hybrid working opened window to cyber crime

Shevaun Haviland, Director-General of the BCC, said: “The huge shift to home working, and the use of cloud computing, for tens of thousands of employees happened almost overnight, so it is not surprising that many firms were caught out by the implications this had for their cyber-security arrangements.“All of the BCC’s research indicates that a shift to a more hybrid way of working, with many staff now splitting their time between the office and home, is here to stay, so it is more vital than ever that firms have the right cyber-security protections in place.“With one in ten firms confirming they have come under attack in the last year, the need to take action now could not be more important.”

Cyber-safety on the move

Aine Rogers, Head of Small Business at Cisco UK & Ireland, said the lines between professional and personal had become more blurred than ever because of workplace changes brought about by the pandemic."Organisations are no longer just protecting an ‘office’ but a workforce at the kitchen table," she said.“As businesses and individuals, we’re more exposed than ever to security threats. Whether it’s fraudulent SMS campaigns posing to be a delivery company, targeted social engineering to access the passwords for your customer database, or hacking your home network, criminals in the cyber world are cunning.“That’s why we need to evolve thinking to focus on securing your employees and what they are doing, not where they are.”

Hybrid working here to stay

Research this month by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and labour market analysts Emsi Burning Glass showed that a quarter of UK jobs advertised in December mentioned hybrid or flexible working.Insurance giant Zurich, which introduced flexible working for all its roles in 2019 in a bid to encourage more women to apply for senior positions, is now calling on the government to change the law to oblige all large companies to make every vacancy available on a part-time, job-share or flexible basis, except where this is not possible because of specific business reasons.Steve Collinson, Zurich's HR Director, told Sky News: "We've certainly seen a very strong demand from employees and from candidates."If we think about the fact that there are over a million unfilled vacancies in the UK, if there's this very strong demand from candidates for flexibility, for access to things like part time and job share opportunities, if employers don't have flexibility, then we're missing out on whole swathes of potential candidates."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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