Working from home on your own PC? Security is still a confusing mess for many

Staff lack the tools and support to maintain security when using their own PCs at home, especially if they are new to remote working.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

Many companies have spent the last couple of months scrambling to deploy new systems to manage the security risks surrounding remote working. And with working from home likely to become much more prevalent, it seems there's still plenty more work to do.

For most staff, remote working has been a new experience: more than 80% of respondents said they either rarely worked from home or not at all prior to the pandemic, according to research by IBM.

But half of the 2,000 remote workers who responded said they were doing so with no new security policies to help guide them; a similar proportion said they were worried about security threats in their new home-office settings.

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"Business activities that were once conducted in protected office environments, and monitored under specific policies, have quickly transitioned to new, and potentially less secure territory," said IBM, pointing to the example of customer service agents who worked in closely managed call centers, but who are now managing sensitive customer data at home.

Workers seem confident in their employers' ability to keep personally identifiable information secure while working remotely. But over half are also now using their personal laptops for work, and 61% said their employer has not provided tools to properly secure these devices.

More than half also said they have not been provided with new guidelines on how to handle highly regulated data while working from home. Two thirds said they have not been provided with new password management guidelines, while a third are still reusing passwords for business accounts.

Separate research has found that tech staff now have heavier workloads thanks to users' remote-working problems, including problems related to home working. Top security issues included an increase in malicious emails, as well as risky and 'non-compliant' behaviour by staff. Half of employees admitted they have cut corners when it comes to security when working from home, either because they had to in order to get the job done, or simply because it was easier to get away with taking shortcuts when working remotely.

No surprise then, that despite general predictions of an overall downturn in IT spending this year, spending on security software, and particularly on cloud security and data security, is expected to grow, according to tech analyst Gartner. 

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