Despite awareness of the increased cybersecurity associated with remote-working, the firms cited urgent continuity and business priorities for the oversight.

Is your organization one of the 54% surveyed that allowed cybersecurity to take a back seat in the shift to remote-working?

Recent research has claimed that 46% of organizations surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) did not have an up-to-date security strategy or solutions covering all the extra vulnerabilities posed by remote working, while the remaining respondents admitted that security had been lagging behind the increase in cyber threats.

The market report, commissioned by Barracuda Networks and conducted by independent research firm Censuswide in July this year, involved 1,055 business decision makers in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and India to gain insights into their current mindset about future of work trends resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also, 47% of APAC organizations surveyed cited they had cut their cybersecurity budgets to save costs as they responded to the pandemic. In addition, 43% lacked IT resources or time to upgrade their IT infrastructure in the shift to a remote-working model.

Furthermore, 49% of respondents had reported that their employees were not properly trained about the cyber risks associated with Work-From-Home arrangements. In addition, 47% were not confident in the security of their web applications, which is a major target for malicious third parties seeking to access corporate data.

In terms of the actual cyberthreat landscape, 51% of organizations surveyed reported at least one data breach or cybersecurity incident since shifting to remote-working, with 49% reporting that employees had experienced an increase in email phishing attacks. Some 61% were concerned about unknown threats that can cause business disruption in the next six months.

How about the good news?

Most APAC decision makers were aware of the cybersecurity problems related to their remote-working security posture and had a clear idea of how they can improve it. Some 77% believed that cross-industry collaboration is key to improving security standards. Also, 79% said that they will need to upgrade their IT infrastructure to improve visibility and productivity. To provide improved online cybersecurity training and awareness for remote working staff, 73% cited intentions to do so.

This mini survey brings to light the economic constraints brought about by business continuity and digitalization urgencies. Nevertheless, as organizations have indicated, they will have to find ways to prioritize spending on critical controls such as consolidating vendors, investing in SaaS-based tools or assessing how automation could help free budget and resources for security.

This is critical, given that employees may often be more distracted when working remotely, coupled with a lack of protection on home devices and networks, making them more susceptible to cybersecurity attacks.

Said James Forbes-May, Vice President of Sales (APAC), Barracuda: “While organizations are riding a wave of digital transformation to support the shift to remote working, many have been impacted by major security concerns that have emerged,”. “Despite this, security has taken a back seat in many organizations across Singapore and the wider Asia-Pacific region due to budget and resource constraints. Threat protection must get the attention it deserves to avoid causing reputational and financial damage at a time when most companies can least afford it.”