Remote working is major network security concern

A massive 87 per cent of IT managers are losing sleep at night over remote working because of the potential security risks to the network.

Despite growing adoption of remote and flexible working practices, the clear majority of responses highlighting concern over the IT access of workers accessing corporate IT systems remotely suggests they are concerned about this avenue being used by hackers as a "back door" into the company network.

The research, conducted by independent researcher Vanson Bourne among 200 IT managers of small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) of between five and 250 employees, found their concerns also covered the potential risk to the corporate network through the use of unauthorised software and internet access.

Further research, carried out by independent researcher TNS, suggests the sleepless nights suffered by IT managers are well founded, given that 87 per cent of remote workers use their home PCs to access company data, with little or no control over their PCs' maintenance given to the IT department.

In fact, 90 per cent of the 1,335 UK remote or home workers surveyed by TNS admitted that they had sole responsibility for maintaining the security of the PCs they use for work when at home or on the move.

And at the same time, 59 per cent of these workers believe that working remotely simultaneously improves their productivity and allows them to maintain a better work/life balance.

But almost half (46 per cent) of the same group said that they couldn't or weren't permitted to work from home. Although that they would like to, they said their organisation was too inflexible.

"Companies that allow the use of home PCs for work purposes are like homeowners who put themselves at risk by leaving their front door open," said James Walker, security product manager for communications provider and research sponsor Zyxel.

He said companies should provide remote workers with work laptops so that IT managers have full control of how the whole workforce accesses IT systems in order to ensure that the network is secure. He also advised ensuring that any remote access products used are able to segment home from work traffic.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.