A significant effect of COVID-19 and the sudden shift to work from home has been the acceleration of digitization, as IT professionals prioritized new technologies that fostered agility in our remote and uncertain environment. While these new solutions enabled business continuity, they opened the door to increased cybersecurity risks. The pandemic served as a wakeup call for today’s organizations that utilizing the infrastructure, cybersecurity tools and protocol of the past is no longer an option when looking to protect critical information.
Our recent survey commissioned in partnership with Angus Reid revealed that 75 percent of organizations are benefitting to varying degrees from the cybersecurity tools and/or solutions it’s using. This is promising, but also reveals that 25 percent of Canadian organizations have room to improve in harnessing the full capabilities of these tools or solutions. As the threat landscape continues to evolve, organizations need to focus on ensuring that security strategies continue to evolve accordingly.
The challenging transition to remote work
Despite a net 86 percent of survey respondents who were already permitted to work from home in some capacity before the pandemic, the accelerated transition during the pandemic was not entirely smooth. Our survey found that 70 percent of respondents experienced some form of service interruption. In navigating these working models, improved security controls are crucial in ensuring these connections are trustworthy and secure as infrastructures and policies of the past no longer apply.
Growth in adoption of cybersecurity solutions
Most organizations are now further along in their cybersecurity strategies than they would have been without the pandemic. Our survey found that 73 percent of respondents noted the use of cloud-based technology has improved their organization’s cybersecurity posture. Software as a service (SaaS) cloud technology experienced a renaissance with 35 percent of organizations using the tool amid the pandemic, compared to 29 percent pre-pandemic.
Our survey also revealed a slight increase in the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), from 17 percent of organizations leveraging AI/ML pre-pandemic to 19 percent during the pandemic. Additionally, multi-factor authentication (MFA) adoption increased to 61 percent amid the pandemic, compared to 54 percent pre-pandemic. This growth in adoption highlights the fact that today’s organizations appreciate the improved security that these tools can bring to organizations.
Key barriers to adoption
The consistency of budget as a barrier is alarming as it limits the ability of organizations to effectively manage security needs in the expanded threat landscape. Of those surveyed, 45 percent were limited by budget during the pandemic, compared to 46 percent pre-pandemic. Furthermore, the perceived complexity of the project remains a key barrier, as 27 percent of respondents stated this for both before and during COVID-19.
In the future, 48 percent of respondents anticipate budget constraints will be the top barrier, 24 percent noted perceived complexity of projects and 17 percent believe scale of data. Organizations need to rethink strategies and make accommodations for the new security landscape, as investments in security are vital to ensuring success now and in a post-COVID-19 era.
The importance of regular employee training
Concerningly, 17 percent of respondents cited their organization still only conducts cybersecurity training during the onboarding process, while 14 percent noted their organization does not plan on holding employee training in the future at all. As organizations take bold actions to ensure business continuity during this highly disruptive period, this needs to be done in a cyber-resilient way to help protect and future-proof organizations. Ensuring regular network reviews and testing, as well as fostering a security culture among employees through training necessary to mitigate potential risks. Afterall, employees are your first line of defence in preventing a cyberincident from occurring.
Where do we go from here?
The ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic has led IT professionals to continue adapting and evolving their cybersecurity posture while carefully planning for the office environment of the future. To address the changing demands of this new terrain and achieve an optimized security framework, organizations should bear these key points in mind:
- Organizational success will require agility: Organizations need to recognize how the pandemic has shifted their security and adapt by making the necessary adjustments through policy and technology adoption.
- Ensure your cybersecurity posture meets the organizational needs: Continually assess your organization’s cybersecurity infrastructure and work to rectify any gaps.
- Investing in cybersecurity is vital: While some organizations see cost as a barrier, investment in cybersecurity optimization is crucial to ensuring security today and in future work environments.
If you’re interested in learning more about improving your organization’s cybersecurity posture or would like to know how to get started, contact our CDW cybersecurity experts at 800.972.3922 or visit cdw.ca/cybersecurity. The full managing security market trends report is available here.