Remote Work in 2021: Cybersecurity Grows in Importance

Published 23 - November - 2020
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Source: DICE
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The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced digital change on organizations at high speed and certainly faster than many had dealt with before the pandemic.

Steve Durbin, Managing Director of the ISF

In the coming weeks, as 2020 gives way to 2021, organizations of all sizes will attempt to size up and plan for a “post-COVID-19 workforce,” even as uncertainty over the virus lingers into the new year.

Even if a vaccine becomes available in the first half of 2021, businesses large and small believe that significant portions of their workforce will remain remote, as employees have taken to these home-office arrangements, which are also helping accelerate the shift to more cloud services as well as digital transformation projects.

At the same time, these organizations need to continue to invest in and refine their cyber defences, thanks to an increasing amount of threats brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an unexpected boon for the entire cybersecurity industry, experts said.

“COVID-19 has represented both a crisis and an opportunity,” Steve Durbin, managing director of the London-based, non-profit Information Security Forum, told Dice. “It has accelerated and concentrated forces, such as the move to remote working and adoption of cloud services, that were already in motion. Moving forward in 2021, organizations must be willing to respond to non-information security-related threats if they have a significant impact on the way an organization operates or threaten its technical infrastructure.”

In a recently published study entitled “Future of Secure Remote Work Report,” researchers with Cisco interviewed some 3,000 IT decision-makers in both large and small enterprises across the Americas, the Asia-Pacific region (including Japan and China), and parts of Europe about the future of work in a post-COVID-19 world.

The survey results show that even as organizations are preparing for a return to physical offices in 2021, remote and home-office work is likely here to stay for the long-term for a good portion of the employees.

The study notes that, in March, just when the pandemic hit most of the globe, about 62 percent of respondents had more than half of their workforce work from home. Now, 37 percent of respondents note that more than half of their workforce wants to continue working from home in a post-pandemic work world, compared to only 19 percent before the virus hit.

“As organizations start preparing for a post-pandemic world, one thing is clear: employees now expect to have the flexibility and ability to work remotely regardless of what the future of work entails, given the fact that we are not going back to the way things were pre-COVID-19,” according to the Cisco report.

The numbers bear out these sentiments. The study found that 46 percent of respondents in the Americas report that half of their employees will likely continue working remotely even after businesses have returned to normal. In Asia, as well as Europe, the percentage of those interviewed who will see half their workforce remain homebound is 34 percent.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced digital change on organizations at high speed and certainly faster than many had dealt with before the pandemic,” Durbin said. “It meant that senior IT and security managers have been called on to refocus efforts and help their organization re-orientate around secure remote working practices.”