Sunday 28 March 2021 5:00 pm

Financial services firms unaware of cybersecurity risks attached to remote working

As the UK starts to emerge from the pandemic the debate surrounding remote working has reared its head again. New research shows bosses are unaware of the cyber security threat attached to more employees working outside the office.

As lockdown restrictions start to ease more firms are considering a pivot to a more permanent remote or hybrid working structure but it raises the vulnerability of business to cyber attacks after the pandemic.

Despite nearly a year of remote working, 42 per cent of UK financial services and law firms admit to having inadequate cyber threat visibility and detection systems for employees working remotely. 

The research by Doherty Associates reveals firms are unaware of the volume of cyber attacks and data breaches impacting their workforce. 

“With employees working outside of the office, using a blend of personal and company devices, firms no longer have a single ‘front door’ to protect but a multitude of entry points to secure against cyber criminals,” Terry Doherty, chief executive of Doherty Associates said. 

Just 52 per cent of the firms polled say they are yet to experience a cyber attack or data breach since last March and staggeringly a quarter of employees say they have been the victim of a breach themselves. 

Despite one in seven experiencing a phishing attack just half of the firms have carried out a cyber risk assessment on their remote workplace. A quarter admit they can’t guarantee security on every device used out of the office. 

“Unfortunately, attacks are common in the finance, insurance and legal sectors, particularly in this current climate of remote working, and the difference between how many firms are detecting breaches compared to the reality of them occurring does suggest that firms need better cyber defence postures that give greater visibility and detection to keep their remote workforce safe,” Doherty said.

A recent poll by the Institute of Directors (IoD) reveals one in three directors believe their organisation is now more vulnerable to cyber attacks. 

“Many organisations have suffered cyber attacks over the course of the pandemic, causing significant disruption, loss of revenue and in many cases data theft. The potential for reputational damage can result in long-lasting consequences,” the IoD’s senior policy advisor Joe Fitzsimons said. 

“Increased home working has made navigating cyber security all the more challenging. The rise of home working will last long beyond the pandemic, with its various benefits for both employers and employees. Minimising the risk of cyber crime will continue to be a front of mind priority for business leaders.