Remote work readiness gives Singapore firms cybersecurity anxiety

Majority of Singapore businesses are prepared to facilitate remote work arrangements, but being so has led 58% to believe they are more susceptible to cyber attacks.

Organisations in Singapore are facilitating remote work arrangements amidst the global pandemic, but being so has left more than half of them feeling anxious they are now more susceptible to cyber attacks. They believe companies should urge employees to be more mindful about cybersecurity and the resulting business consequences of an attack. 

Some 97% of businesses in Singapore currently had employees who worked from home and this figure was higher than their counterparts in Australia and Hong Kong, according to a study commissioned by AT&T, which polled 500 IT decision makers across the three Asia-Pacific markets.

Some 44% in Singapore had remote staff who were accessing corporate networks and data from personal devices, which was higher than the regional average of 35%. 

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Their readiness to support a remote workplace, however, had left 58% of respondents in the city-state with concerns they were more vulnerable to cyber attacks. Some 12% of senior managers felt their organisations were not sufficiently prepared to manage a workforce that was shifting from the office to home. 

Across the region, 91% said they were prepared to support a remote workforce, but 39% pointed to Wi-Fi networks as the biggest security concern. Another 38% cited cloud storage as a worry, while 36% had security concerns about email and 34% were anxious about new technologies such as 5G and Internet of Things. Some 32% highlighted remote devices as a security risk and 31% pointed to video conferencing tools.

Bernard Yee, AT&T Business' Asia-Pacific and Canada president, said: "The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented opportunities for cybercriminals who are taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding the health crisis, along with the economic impact, which has caused massive shifts in IT environments exposing a wide range of vulnerabilities. 

"These are incredibly challenging times for IT specialists to keep businesses up and running remotely, while protecting their most valuable assets," Yee noted, adding that employees remained a central part of the vulnerabilities in the security chain. "The need for businesses to support remote working is likely to be the new normal, so it is critical for companies to train and educate staff about the risks and the importance of following good cybersecurity practices."

To mitigate security risks, 54% in Singapore believed organisations should share information about the nature and frequency of attacks to encourage their staff to be more mindful about cybersecurity. Employees also should be aware about the business consequences of cyber attacks. 

Another 52% in the country called for more training while 46% said employees should be made aware of news reports to highlight the impact on businesses. 

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