Research conducted across three major markets in Asia Pacific - Hong Kong, Australia, and Singapore - AT&T found that 64% of companies believe that they are more vulnerable to cyberattacks due to the remote working arrangements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of the 500 IT decision-makers, 90% currently have employees working from home, with the highest percentage in Singapore at 97%.
Despite 91% of IT managers thinking that they were prepared for the work from home arrangements, the responders identified multiple areas of concern. The largest area of concern being their WiFi networks (39%), followed by cloud storage (38%), email (36%), new technologies such as 5G and IoT (34%), remote devices (32%), and video conferencing solutions (31%).
An increase to 46% of users in Hong Kong is accessing the web and business applications via private WiFi networks. While over a third of users (35%) are accessing corporate networks not managed by the company due to the rush of implementing remote working, with the highest levels in Singapore at 44% compared to Australia’s 25%.
To manage the risk of cyberattacks, organisations are encouraged to have employee training, cybersecurity monitoring, and support from external security providers.
51% of respondents said that organisations should encourage their staff to care more about cybersecurity, thereby raising awareness and understanding of the risks. This can be achieved when they share information about the nature and frequency of attacks they encounter, as well as business consequences. Additionally, 49% said more training is needed, while 46% said that sharing news stories would help illustrate the affect cyberattacks can have on the business.
Bernard Yee, region president AP and Canada, AT&T Business, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented opportunities for cyber criminals, who are taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding the health crisis, along with the economic impact, which has caused massive shifts in IT environments exposing a wide range of vulnerabilities.
“There are incredible challenging times for IT specialists to keep businesses up and running remotely, while protecting their most valuable assets. What the research clearly shows is that employees continue to be a central part of the vulnerabilities in the security chain.”
Yee added that to support remote working in the new normal, it is important for companies to train and educate their staff about the risks, and the importance of maintaining good cybersecurity practices.
With the new year, 49% believe that COVID-19 will lead to a continuation of remote working, rising to 58% in Hong Kong. Half of the respondents believe that there will be an increasing frequency and sophistication to the cyberattacks as a result of COVID-19, while 39% think it will remain the same.
This could contribute to an increase in demand for support from specialist external security providers. At present, 79% of IT managers depend on external security providers, while 30% are heavily reliant on one or more managed security providers. About 19% do not engage external cybersecurity providers, but of those, 11% are looking to increase external providers in 2021.