Remote working leads to increases in cyber attacks

18 November 2020 3 min. read
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The rapid shift to digital working during the 2020 pandemic has left many employers exposed to hackers. According to a new survey from HLB, more than half of organisations have either been breached or exposed to an attack during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The lockdown brought in to fight the Covid-19 pandemic saw companies become more reliant on decentralised digital operation systems than ever before – something many of them were not prepared for in terms of becoming exposed to cyber-attacks. As criminals targeted companies involved in the UK’s coronavirus response, such as outsourcing firm Interserve, experts warned that organisations are likely to be targeted by hackers more than ever, as they seek to exploit the chaos of the on-going crisis.

As the world finds itself in the grips of a second wave of the virus, professional services firm HLB has reported that this threat is yet to die down. One of the key findings of the firm’s ‘Cybersecurity Report’ is that 65% of organisations noting they have either been breached or exposed to an attack. Meanwhile, only 42% said they were “well prepared” for moving to remote working, compared to 45% who were “somewhat prepared” and 13% who were not prepared at all – leaving more than half of all firms at least moderately under threat.


Commenting on the findings, Abu Bakkar, HLB’s Chief Innovation Officer, stated, “Covid-19 has demonstrated how important technology is for business leaders, but the pandemic has truly highlighted the critical role cybersecurity plays. CEOs must work closely with their CTOs and IT consultants and recognise the investment needed in this area and build it into your business strategy. Without cybersecurity at the heart of your organisation, can you truly deliver for your customers?” 

At the start of the pandemic, CTOs and IT management scrambled to get remote workforces running, facing vulnerabilities across several areas such as securing personal devices to giving access to virtual private networks (VPNs). These vulnerabilities allowed for cyber-attacks and data breaches to take place, and a huge 88% of respondents noted that their companies have since changed their cybersecurity strategies and protocols.

How secure do you consider the following three tenets of information security at your organisation

Whether these shifts go far enough remains to be seen, however. Regarding the security of three key tenets of information security, around 15% of respondents said they did not believe data availability or data confidentiality were secure. Meanwhile, more than 20% said their data integrity was not secure in their organisation.

HLB’s Global Advisory Leader, Jim Bourke pointed that much of this is due to, “the fact that our workers are still working remotely and touching confidential data, so there continues to be exposure. From a cybersecurity month perspective, it’s worth noting that the question about data confidentiality should have been answered with 100% secure. We have rules and regulations, like GDPR, so we should be secure. However, the rapid shift to remote working and with such a large portion of the workforce still working from home, many organisations have just not been able to fully comply in the short space of time.”