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The return to homeworking could increase cyber risks 

Cyber consultants call on business leaders to urgently deploy secure remote working solutions before people leave the offices from Monday.  

10 December 2021 – With prime minister Boris Johnson‘s announcement on 8 December 2021 that those workers who are able should return to working from home as of 13 December, there is a renewed opportunity for cybercriminals to strike. 

Before the discovery of the new Covid-19 variant, UK businesses were already predicting that over 50% of their workforce would work from home in December this year, up from 32% before the pandemic, according to research from S-RM. Remote workers can be particularly vulnerable to cybercrime, with employees relying on their own home networks and sometimes their own devices. This increases the overall ‘attack surface’ of an organisation, giving cybercriminals more potential ways to access critical systems. A hybrid work model presents a number of cyber challenges to businesses. 

UK business decision makers and IT leaders were most concerned about: 

  • 43% – increased tension between cyber security priorities and keeping business functions running smoothly  

  • 40% – communication challenges across teams  

  • 40% – difficulties monitoring systems in a hybrid environment  

With the emergence of the new Covid-19 variant prompting the UK government to activate further ‘Plan B’ measures, many businesses will now be sending their staff back to working exclusively from home. This move will be accompanied by an increased cyber risk to the business. Once workers need remote access, the business opens itself up to cyberattacks, if the right precautions are not taken.” said Ted Cowell, Director of Cyber Security at S-RM.  

“For businesses, deploying remote working solutions should be on the top of the to-do list, actions such as ensuring secure conferencing, remote desktop solutions and setting up multi-factor authentication across all network entry points. Also, hygiene practices such as deploying all available security patches to all devices, software and applications across the enterprise is key to mitigating potential risks.” 

With very little time to prepare for the latest return to home working, businesses should ensure that remote working practices are suitable and effective against any potential security challenges.