Employees New to Working from Home Pose Security Risk
IBM Security released findings from a study focused on the behaviors and security risks of those new to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study shows more than 80% of respondents either rarely worked from home or not at all prior to the pandemic, and, in turn, more than half are now doing so with no new security policies to help guide them.
This shift to working from home has exposed new security risks and has left nearly 50% of those employees worried about impending cyber threats in their new home office settings. Now that more than half of the U.S. population is working from home, and a large percentage is expected to continue to do so through the rest of 2020 and beyond, many companies may be playing catch-up as they attempt to manage the security risks of rushed remote-work models. Business activities that were once conducted in protected office environments, and monitored under specific policies, have quickly transitioned to new, and potentially less secure territory.
As a result, IBM X-Force Red has expanded its security testing practice to help companies identify potential blind spots in the work from home world and assist them in designing secure frameworks. The practice will look at key areas including systems that risk exposure of intellectual property, client and employee data, as well as collaboration tools such as video conferencing platforms, and file sharing platforms.
"Organizations need to use a risk-based approach with work-from-home models, then reassess and build from the ground up," said Charles Henderson, Global Partner and Head of IBM X-Force Red. "Working from home is going to be a long-lasting reality within many organizations, and the security assumptions we once relied on in our traditional offices may not be enough as our workforce transitions to new, less controlled surroundings."
The rapid shift to working from home has also changed the ways many organizations do business from moving face-to-face meetings to video conferencing calls to adding new collaboration tools, yet the survey showed many employees are lacking guidance, direction and policies. Sponsored by IBM Security and conducted by Morning Consult, the IBM Security Work from Home Survey is comprised of responses from more than 2,000 newly working remotely Americans.
93% of those newly working from home are confident in their company's ability to keep personally identifiable information (PII) secure while working remotely, yet 52% are using their personal laptops for work, often with no new tools to secure it, and 45% haven't received any new training. More than half have not been provided with new guidelines on how to handle highly regulated PII while working from home. This is despite more than 42% of people who manage PII as part of their regular jobs now doing so at home.
More than 50% of respondents don't know of any new company policies related to customer data handling, password management and more. More than 50% of new work from home employees are using their own personal computers for business use, however 61% also say their employer hasn't provided tools to properly secure those devices. 66% have not been provided with new password management guidelines, which could be why 35% are still reusing passwords for business accounts.
X-Force Red has expanded its security testing offerings to help all organizations test and strengthen their security posture and to specifically address those that are new to remote workforces. With more than half of surveyed new work from home employees lacking the training and policies needed to secure critical business operations, this expanded practice can help organizations fill crucial security gaps.