Balancing Security and User Behavior in Remote Work

Just when security was finally being recognized as a priority within business operations, remote work hit what amounted to a giant reset button. As work from home (WFH) became necessary, productivity was prioritized over everything else. Getting employees online, making sure everyone had the necessary equipment and access, even setting up cloud options where there was only on-premises access in the past, came first. Security went back to being an afterthought for a lot of companies.

The result was a rise in malware incidents and other poor security behaviors. A new Cloud Security Report 2021 from Wandera found 52% of organizations dealt with a malware incident in 2020, up from 37% in 2019. Phishing attacks were more frequent on weekends than on weekdays. And when compared to pre-pandemic times, connections to inappropriate content during office hours have increased 100%.

WFH Reduced Security Oversight

This change is due in part to WFH and reduced security oversight, and in part to changes in employee behaviors, according to Michael Covington, vice president at Wandera.

“There were definitely some cases where we observed attackers taking advantage of the insatiable demand for information related to the pandemic; the many fake COVID-19 tracing apps that appeared in Q2 are just one example of how one global incident drove users around the world to download malicious software en masse,” Covington explained in an email interview.

When it comes to behavior changes, the move to use of a single device for the bulk of online activities blurred the lines between personal and work more than ever. With security policies relaxed at work, this resulted in a newfound personal freedom to install the apps employees want. Often, those include malware.

The impact of widespread SaaS adoption also has security implications, according to Covington. “With more applications that are available to users, without IT vetting and security review, the greater the likelihood malicious software will appear on work devices, whether mobile or not,” said Covington.

Malicious Appeals to Remote Workers

Wandera customers most frequently encountered spyware in 2020, according to the report. There were also a…