From manufacturing to healthcare, remote work is both beneficial and potentially risky

Katherine Little 10 Mar 2021

As more employees work from home in the future, are businesses addressing the increased threat of cyberattacks?

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, every business that could pivot to remote work to continue operations did so. Even industries such as education, healthcare, and manufacturing found ways to shift their traditionally on-premises workforces to a work-from-home (WFH) model.

  • Almost half (47%) of manufacturing employees are able to work from home, at least some of the time, including office staff, process engineers, plant managers, quality engineers, and others 

  • Telehealth visits increased by 154%, enabling healthcare providers and their patients to remain home

  • As many as 4 million U.S. teachers and 56 million elementary and secondary students shifted to distance learning  

  • More than two-thirds (69%) of nonprofit organizations can accommodate working from home for all staff 

  • Since Covid began, 69% of financial services employers expect 60% of their workforce to telecommute at least once a week going forward 

Many businesses decide to make remote work permanent   

Increasingly, remote work is looking like it’s here to stay—even after the pandemic restrictions are lifted. A Gartner survey reports that 82% of companies plan to allow employees to work remotely at least part of the time after the pandemic, and 47% will allow their employees to work remotely full time going forward.     

One reason for this is that many businesses and their employees are realizing significant benefits of employees working remotely. Another survey of small and mid-sized business owners reports benefits including 19% improvement in employee availability, 15% improvement in job satisfaction, and 7% improvement in life satisfaction, as well as lower overhead costs.             

The pandemic is a boon for cybercriminals, too  

Cybercriminals have rushed in to take advantage of increased fear and vulnerability, with 63% of respondents in an ESG cybersecurity survey reporting either a significant or slight increase in attempted cyberattacks related to the pandemic. Disruptions due to cyberattacks included:

  • A ransomware attack at Honda Motor Company crippled operations in multiple countries in June 2020

  • A ransomware attack in September 2020 caused an outage at all 250 U.S. facilities of the hospital chain Universal Health Services 

  • Ransomware attacks on education providers more than doubled from 6% in 2019 to 15% in the first half of 2020

  • 70% of financial services firms experienced a successful cyberattack in 2020

WFH and new tech can introduce new risks

As businesses moved quickly to pivot to a WFH model, cybercriminals moved faster to exploit new vulnerabilities and risks introduced by employees shifting from a secure workplace to an unsecured home. 

Further reading:
Pushing back against IoT attacks intensified by Covid-19
Spearphishing scams disguise malicious files as Covid-19 data
How do Covid-19 scams happen?

Likewise, businesses that adopted or plan to adopt new technology to deliver virtual services, enable remote employee communication and collaboration, support customer needs as business is conducted virtually, or handle other essential capabilities, should be aware these tools can also expand the attack surface and increase cybersecurity risk.  

Protect your business from cyberattacks  

To protect your business during the pandemic and beyond, replace outdated security models with a modern security solution that is robust and simple to use. Avast’s all-in-one cloud security solutions offer maximum protection, even for those businesses with limited IT resources.  

Learn more in our eBook “The Digital Shift is Upending Cybersecurity for Business: How Remote Work and New Cyberthreats Are Affecting Different Industries.”

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