Cyber security threats on the rise as more people work from home: Cisco survey

About six in 10 organistions here said they experienced an increase in cyber threats since the pandemic started. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Businesses in Singapore have seen a significant increase in cyber security challenges as more people work from home amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a survey commissioned by American tech giant Cisco has revealed.

Of the nearly 3,200 companies from 21 countries polled in the survey from June 16 to Sept 4, Singapore made the largest shift to remote working in Asia-Pacific.

About six in 10 organisations here said they experienced at least a 25 per cent increase in cyber threats since the pandemic started.

These threats included connections to malicious sites on the Internet and phishing attacks.

However, less than half, or 42 per cent of companies, said that they were "very prepared" to cope with these threats and transition to working remotely.

Around half, or 54 per cent of companies, indicated that they were "somewhat prepared", while 3 per cent said they were "not prepared" for the transition. The remaining one per cent said they did not know whether they were prepared for it.

The survey, conducted by local public opinion and data company YouGov, gathered data from 3,196 companies across 21 countries, including the United States, China and Germany.

It showed that in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore made the largest shift to remote working, with a 59 per cent increase in the number of organisations here having more than half of their employees working remotely, compared with before the pandemic.

This increase is the second-highest globally, after the United Kingdom, showing that more people are connecting to their corporate network from outside traditional offices.

As a result of this shift, 58 per cent of companies here said maintaining control of security devices and policies emerged as the top cyber security challenge.

Ensuring secure access - which is the ability to verify the identity of the worker regardless of where or when he logs into the network - was cited as the second biggest challenge by 56 per cent of companies.

Other challenges included a lack of employee awareness on cyber security protocols and adapting to a change in company culture.

Hybrid workplaces, where employees move between working remotely and in the office, are becoming more popular.

Forty per cent of organisations here said they expect more than half their employees to continue working remotely even after the pandemic has been brought under control. Only 18 per cent of organisations had this arrangement before the Covid-19 outbreak.

With more companies gearing up for more flexible work arrangements, 89 per cent said cybersecurity is their top corporate priority.

Around three in four companies, or 76 per cent, plan to increase their investment in cybersecurity policies to support remote working.

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