CEO's Corner

Mind the Gap: Eliminating Remote Work Security Gaps with Secure Enterprise Collaboration Tools

Anurag Lal Anurag Lal, President and CEO of Infinite Convergence.

More than a year after the start of the pandemic, enterprises are still grappling with securely supporting remote work. As organizations across the globe realize benefits from the shift to remote work and continue to make these environments part of their long-term operational strategies, they must strengthen their cybersecurity posture to effectively navigate the gaps catalyzed by this working model. Securing the cyber risk-filled world of remote work and eliminating security gaps will require cybersecurity-first solutions such as enterprise-grade secure mobile messaging and collaboration platforms.

In an era where the lines between work and home are blurred, vulnerability to cyberattacks and the likelihood of compliance risks are continuing to increase. A recent report by cybersecurity company Deep Instinct summarized the hundreds of millions of attempted cyberattacks that occurred every day throughout 2020, showing malware increased by 358% overall and ransomware increased by 435% as compared with 2019.

IT leaders believe remote work significantly impacts the severity of these data breaches. A report by IBM found that 70% of those surveyed said that remote work would “increase the cost of a data breach” and 76% said that remote work would “increase the time to identify and contain a breach.” The report also noted that remote work increased the average cost of a data breach by $137,000.

Enterprises are already paying the price for security breaches. A report by Malwarebytes that surveyed more than 200 managers, directors, and C-suite executives in IT and cybersecurity roles at companies across the U.S. found that 24% said they paid unexpected expenses specifically to address a cybersecurity breach or malware attack following shelter-in place orders.

Even as remote working cybersecurity challenges persist, one in three companies anticipate having half or more of their workforce remote post COVID—compared to one in 30 companies with that level of remote working pre-COVID, according to professional services firm, Mercer. Further, a survey by Upwork revealed that the expected growth rate of full-time remote work over the next five years has doubled, from 30% to 65%.

These statistics are not surprising considering enterprises experienced benefits of remote work including increased productivity, lower operating costs and improved recruitment as pandemic shelter-in-place orders accelerated remote working. Global Workplace Analytics quantified these benefits, estimating a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year with “primary savings resulting from increased productivity, lower real estate costs, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and better disaster preparedness.”

While organizations continue to realize the benefits of remote work, at the same time the cyber threat landscape is expanding along with their digital footprint. Employee use of shadow IT including unsecure collaboration apps, personal devices connecting to the network and unsecure WiFi networks and hotspots, are just some of the remote work security gaps posing new levels of cyber risks to organizations. A recent report by 451 Research noted that the use of consumer over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps in the workplace—which has remained an ongoing issue for several years—is an even more urgent issue now with the shift to remote work.

As workforces continue to become more remote and dispersed, IT leaders will need to take actionable steps to mitigate the risks of remote work including a proactive approach to closing remote work cybersecurity gaps by securing communication and collaboration. This means providing the right tool for secure business communication and collaboration that takes a cybersecurity-first approach: combatting cyberthreats and compliance risks while facilitating seamless, real-time collaboration.

To provide a secure foundation for remote collaboration, enterprises should vet collaboration platforms for mission-critical features that effectively eliminate cybersecurity gaps and keep company data and assets secure. In the era of work from anywhere, must-have collaboration platform features include end-to-end encryption, robust administrative IT controls, technical safeguards to comply with regulatory requirements and strict no data collection.

NetSfere has all of these features and more and was recently named as the leading secure enterprise messaging platform. Built with enterprise security in mind, NetSfere ensures that all information shared within the platform is safe and guarantees full compliance with industry regulations—all while facilitating contextual, real-time communication and collaboration. As a mobile-first, multi-platform, NetSfere enables secure communications for distributed and mobile workers with end-to-end encryption across every device.

IT leaders realize the cybersecurity challenges and gaps associated with remote work are not going away. A recent report by cybersecurity and compliance company Proofpoint, found that 64% of CISOs feel at risk of suffering a material cyberattack in the next 12 months. Commenting in a press release on the findings, Ryan Kalember, Executive Vice President of cybersecurity strategy for Proofpoint said, “the ‘good enough’ approach of the past 12 months will simply not work in the long term: with businesses unlikely to ever return to pre-pandemic working practices, the mandate to strengthen cyber security defenses has never been more pressing.”

Enterprises can strengthen their cyber security defenses and eliminate remote working security gaps with a secure by design, flexible, agile collaboration platform like NetSfere.