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Most companies struggle with remote work security

Almost half of organizations compromised security or increased risk through lax enforcement of security policies

Almost two-thirds (61%) of organizations struggled to provide the necessary security to support staff working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Palo Alto Network’s “The State of Hybrid Workforce Security 2021” report, which surveyed 3,000 IT leaders worldwide, found that 48% of organizations admitted to compromising security or increasing security risk through lax enforcement of security policies and allowing employees more leeway than ordinarily acceptable.

Over a third (35%) of respondents agreed that their employees either circumvented or purposely disabled the remote security measures they implemented, while 53% of organizations that prioritized remote access over security are now exposed to significant security risks from unchecked acceptable use policy violations and unsanctioned application use.

The research also found that 25 to 75% of workforces are now working remotely in two-thirds of organizations. The report said while these firms have moved some of their workforce back to the office, the current work landscape remains mostly the same as it was at the height of the pandemic and is dominated by remote work. 

According to the report, 44% expect to have over half of their employees working remotely in 12 months. With that in mind, as they fine-tune their specific remote capabilities, 62% of survey respondents are optimizing their hybrid workforce, with 94% considering some sort of hybrid workforce over the next 12 months.

Before the pandemic, many organizations were developing digital transformation projects that involved moving to the cloud and modernizing their infrastructure to better accommodate remote work. COVID-19 accelerated these plans. 

The survey found 67% of organizations simultaneously increased their existing remote access architecture capacity and implemented new technologies to evolve their infrastructure.

The research found that while many companies increased their current architecture capacity, this wasn’t a long-term solution, as 64% are expected to change their remote access architecture over the next 24 months.

While most organizations have stabilized their network and remote access, one-third of respondents still struggle to provide a positive, well-rounded user experience.

“The results of our survey show that organizations that are targeting a lower percentage of remote work are holding their own for now,” said the report’s authors. “On the other hand, those that aspire to expand their hybrid workforce capabilities face some key challenges – namely high-security evasion, ineffective remote collaboration tools, and poor visibility across the entire corporate environment.”

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