Mircosoft, highlighted some of the cyber security challenges employees and companies have been facing. This includes poor password hygiene and use of personal devices is among the security issues arising as employees continue working from home.

Latest research carried out by Microsoft Ireland and Amárach among 500 employees and 200 decision makers in September 2020 revealed more then quarter employees said to have experiences cyber-attack personally.

Similar concerns about the security of confidential data that they share with colleagues, and one-fifth said their data is more vulnerable while working from home. Almost one-third, however, still use personal emails to share confidential work materials.

One-third of employees said they use the same password to log into both work and personal devices, and 43% have unregulated access to work documents from their homes.

On the employer side, 36% said they had pivoted to a remote setting quickly earlier this year and are only retrofitting security, privacy and workplace procedures now. Almost half (45%) have asked their staff to use personal devices for work since the pandemic started, and 42% have yet to secure those devices.

41% of the companies surveyed said they are having difficulties remaining GDPR-compliant because of Covid-related work changes.

Remote cybersecurity responsibilities “Cyberhackers are opportunistic, skilled and relentless,” said Des Ryan, Microsoft Ireland’s solutions director. “They have become adept at evolving their techniques to increase success rates, whether by experimenting with different phishing lures, adjusting the types of attacks they execute or finding new ways to hide their work. ”Microsoft said that it blocked more than 13bn malicious and suspicious emails globally in 2019. The most common reason for incident responses between October 2019 and July 2020 was ransomware. Popular ploys used by attackers included reconnaissance, credential harvesting, malware and VPN exploits.

“While our physical work locations may have changed, our responsibilities in protecting organisational data and complying to data regulations have not,” Ryan added.

Paving the way for a more secure hybrid future
Microsoft also touched on future workplace trends in its report. Of the people surveyed, 58% said that a hybrid workforce is on the cards. This is in line with another recent Microsoft Ireland report, in which almost half of respondents said they see their employees working remotely in future.

In the new cybersecurity report, 57% said they feel more confident about using cloud-based services such as productivity tools while working from home. But 41% of employers said that Ireland is lacking in terms of digital services and technologies for new ways of working.

To mitigate the cyber security risks associated with continued remote working, 38% have already begun to increase training for employees and a further 52% said they will prioritize this next year.

Given the poor password hygiene among many workers, 44% of them said they would be open to password alternatives such as biometric verification.

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