Ninety Percent of Organizations Report Cyberattack Increase Due to COVID-19

Published On: August 17, 2020Categories: Buzz, Uncategorized

Tanium, an Emeryville, California-based security vendor, announced results of a survey of 1,000 CXOs indicating that 90% of IT leaders experienced an increase in cyberattacks due to the pandemic. An even greater number––93%––said they were forced to delay key security projects in order to manage the transition to remote work.

The study—which polled executives from across the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany—focused on how organizations are adapting to distributed working and how they are planning for the next “new normal” once the pandemic recedes.

“The almost overnight transition to remote work forced changes for which many organizations were unprepared,” said Chris Hodson, Chief Information Security Officer at Tanium. “It may have started with saturated VPN links and a struggle to remotely patch thousands of endpoints, but the rise in cyberattacks and critical vulnerabilities has made it apparent that we’re still far from an effective strategy for the new IT reality.”

One of the key findings of the study was the contrast between how prepared leaders felt for the shift to remote work and the reality of dealing with it. While 85% said that they felt ready to shift to a fully remote workforce, almost all––98%––said they experienced security challenges within the first two months. The top three challenges were: identifying new personal computing devices (27%); overwhelmed IT capacity due to VPN requirements (22%); and increased security risk from video conferencing (20%).

Rising cyberattack volumes compounded enterprise security management challenges. Ninety percent of IT leaders said they saw an increase in attacks due to the pandemic, as threat actors sought to cash-in on the disruption. The most common of these were attacks involving data exposure (38%), business email or transaction fraud (37%) and phishing (35 percent).

But even as cyberattacks increased and post-compromise activity spiked––signaling the existence of critical security gaps prior to the pandemic–– nearly all of the executives surveyed said they had to delay or cancel planned security projects. Identity and asset management (39%) and security strategy (39%), were the top areas disrupted as a result of workforce distribution efforts.

Patching was one of the key areas where organizations appear to have been caught off guard. Eighty-eight percent of respondents had trouble in this crucial area and 43% experienced difficulties patching remote workers’ personal devices, exposing their organization to risk. A quarter (26%) admitted to effectively side-lining this vital IT security best practice at a time when Microsoft alone released 100+ fixes in successive Patch Tuesdays.

With most (85%) respondents believing the negative impacts of the global pandemic will last for several months to come, thoughts are now turning to how they can securely transition to a more permanent flexible work model––and there are significant challenges.

Respondents were concerned that home IT would be difficult to implement long-term for multiple reasons, including compliance regulations (26%), managing cybersecurity risks (25%) and balancing cyber risk with employee privacy (19%).

Channel Impact®
Security will undoubtedly remain as a top corporate priority in the months to come. And if COVID has changed anything in the business world, it has demonstrated that the network edge is much more highly distributed than it has been in the past.

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