Security post COVID-19 will be more challenging

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A full year on from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and there are two things that have become obvious to every cybersecurity professional. The first is that not only are there more remote workers than ever, but it also doesn’t look like very many of them will ever return to work in an office on a full-time basis.

The second is the number of workloads being deployed in the cloud has greatly accelerated as organizations look to ensure applications are readily accessible to both employees and, increasingly, their end customers.

The trouble is there are a lot of cybersecurity teams that for one reason or another are finding it difficult to keep pace with this rapid rate of change that is making cybersecurity harder to attain and maintain. A survey of 101 IT professionals employed by organizations with a minimum of $50M in annual revenue and 1,000 employees that have deployed workloads in the cloud finds about a third (32%) admit they are doing less than they should be doing to secure cloud workloads.

Conducted by Osterman Research on behalf of Sonrai Security, a provider of tools for assessing cloud security, the survey identifies bad actors/cybercriminals (46%), lack of visibility/hidden risk (44%), data loss (43%), and over-privileged identities (41%) as all being significant concerns. More than a third (37%) said cloud misconfigurations have increased significantly in the last 12 months, mainly because of complexity (53%), lack of education and training (45%), too few IT and security staff members (43%) and unexplained human error (29%).

At the other end of the spectrum, a survey of more than 400 IT security practitioners across North America and Europe conducted by Apricorn, a provider of secure USB drives, finds that 60% of respondents concur that COVID-induced remote work conditions have created data security issues within their organizations, with 38% noting that data control during the pandemic has been very hard to manage. Nearly half of respondents (49%) noted that individual employees in their organization do not consider themselves as targets that attackers can use to access company data.

On the plus side, cybersecurity teams appear to be having more success when it comes to remote security. Three-quarters of respondents (75%) have put COVID-centric policies in place, including two-factor authentication (48%) and the encryption for sensitive data (41%).

The degree to which organizations are addressing cybersecurity issues will naturally vary. Some organizations are always going to be laxer than others. In some cases, an organization may excel at cloud security only to discover their approach to securing the networks employed to access those services is abysmal. Other organizations may have the exact opposite set of issues.

Regardless of the cybersecurity maturity of an organization, there’s a lot more that can go wrong now than ever before. Developers that don’t have much cybersecurity expertise are now deploying additional classes of workloads on cloud-native platforms such as Kubernetes that from a security perspective they even know less about. Employees will be moving back and forth between offices and remote offices in ways that cybersecurity teams won’t see until they actually log in. Cybersecurity teams are going to have to proactively keep track of more moving parts than ever whether they like it or not.



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