80% of IT leaders see rise in phishing risk during WFH

More than eight in 10 IT leaders (82 per cent) think their company is at a greater risk of phishing attacks when employees are working from home.

A OnePoll survey of 250 IT leaders and 2,000 IT professionals in the UK and US for security company Tessian, found that 78 per cent believe the risk of insider attack has been increased by the shift to remote work during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The data comes after the UK government urged office workers to work from home for the foreseeable future to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

A majority of IT leaders (85 per cent) believe permanent remote work will put greater pressure on their teams, while over a third (34 per cent) were concerned that their teams will be stretched too far in terms of time and resource.

Phishing attacks also increased during the lockdown period, with half of the organisations surveyed experiencing a security incident between March and July.

Half of these incidents were caused by phishing attacks – making it the leading cause of security incidents during this time.

Nearly a third of IT leaders (30 per cent) also reported a rise in ransomware attacks delivered by phishing, while nearly a quarter (24 per cent) reported a rise in vishing (voice-phishing) attacks, compared to the five months before the March lockdown.

Bring your own device also posed additional risks, with 78 per cent of remote workers who worked on their personal devices during the lockdown stating that they had received phishing emails, either in their work or personal inboxes.

A total of 68 per cent admitted to clicking a link or downloaded an attachment from the phishing emails they received on their personal device.

The rise of working from anywhere creates a more complex risk landscape, with over half (53 per cent) of IT leaders worried that employees will connect to public WiFi when working remotely.

More than half (57 per cent) of employees said they were more reliant on email as a primary channel to stay connected with colleagues and customers when working remotely.

Data from the Tessian platform showed a 129 per cent increase in email traffic at the start of lockdown (March to April).

Tim Sadler, chief executive of Tessian, said: “The government’s u-turn on work from home is critical to protecting the health and safety of employees and businesses also have a duty to ensure their staff can work from home effectively and securely.

“Making people aware of the threats and educating them on safe remote working practices is an important first step," he continued, adding: "IT leaders must, then, find ways to alleviate the pressure on their teams, looking at solutions which can provide greater visibility into employee behaviour, predict and prevent threats, and automate manual tasks.”

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