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COVID-19-forced work shifts prompting shifts in IT priorities

By 4 March 2021No Comments

A survey conducted by One Identity has revealed shifting priorities of IT and security teams to adjust with new work cultures that organisations adopted to respond to COVID-19 related lockdowns.

The survey found that even though IT security professionals almost unanimously (99%) agree that their organisations switched to remote work because of COVID-19, only a third of them said they had a smooth transition. This is because the attention organisations gave to cloud deployments was not sufficient to support a seamless shift to remote work when the pandemic arrived. With a remote work culture in place for almost a year now, the importance of cloud infrastructure has vastly increased compared to a year ago, said 62% of those surveyed by One Identity.

Darrell Long, president and general manager at One Identity, said that “it is clearly evident that cloud computing has been a lifesaver for many enterprises as IT teams pivoted and supported the massive shift to working away from offices.

“While we knew the pandemic-driven changes were sudden, what was particularly notable was how strongly the results proved that organisations had to turn their focus on the immediate challenges presented by the aggressive move to cloud computing, chiefly finding solutions that streamlined administering and securing who has access to what and how,” he added.

The new remote work environment has forced organisations to pay greater attention to the basics of handling security incidents as well. Compared to a year ago, 50% of IT and security professionals are now giving higher priority to access request technologies, and 31% said this change in priority is because of the COVID-19 crisis. Identity/access lifecycle management, identity process and workflow, and role management all saw increased priority among at least half of those surveyed.

The survey also revealed that only 45% of IT security professionals are prepared to handle IT changes necessitated by the return of employees to their workplaces. Two thirds (66%) expressed increased confidence in the effectiveness of their identity management programmes post COVID-based changes due to the increased priority given to the handling of security incidents.

“We now know the truth: the COVID pandemic did not change the need to be productive, nor did it change the regulatory compliance requirements companies face, but clearly IT and security teams scrambled to shift their systems to accommodate work from home in a secure and controlled way.

“Companies and organisations were helped to an extent by cloud investments that prepared them pre-COVID. However, most of them are still dealing with new challenges as employees adapt, IT and security teams effectively respond to the challenge of providing effective processes for gaining access to the resources needed for the workforce to do their jobs and security challenges associated with this new working environment,” Long added.

Despite the fact that organisations and their IT and security teams are prioritizing cyber security and the shift towards cloud computing, a lot more needs to be done to competely secure enterprise digital assets from various kinds of cyber threats, including the threat from insiders.

Last year, a study from Kaspersky Lab revealed that as many as 73% of remote workers were yet to receive any specific cybersecurity awareness guidance or training designed to keep themselves secure from risks. The fact that remote workers extensively used third-party video conferencing, instant messaging, and file storage solutions exposed them to many forms of cyber threats. These included hackers sending them large volumes of phishing emails with COVID-19 themes.

“It is hard to keep things ‘business as usual’ when everything needs to change so dramatically. While employees are trying to get along with the new reality of working from home, IT and cybersecurity teams are under pressure to enable them to continue working safely. Cyber-incidents can only add difficulties to this challenge, so it is important to remain vigilant and make sure remote working is also secure working,” said Andrey Dankevich, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Kaspersky.

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