Spotlight on Brazil: Remote Work Requires New Risk Management Practices
Remote work is here to stay — along with the risks it introduces to Brazilian organizations, if not managed properly. Here's what you need to know.
The pandemic forced many Brazilian organizations to shift employees from working largely in offices to entirely remote in the blink of an eye. Technology was the enabler of this fast-paced change, but not without consequences.
The attack surface has expanded, bringing new and unmanaged cyber risk. In fact, six out of 10 Brazilian leaders said the number of business-impacting* cyberattacks increased with the pandemic and 75% attributed recent business-impacting cyberattacks to vulnerabilities in technology implemented in response to the pandemic.
The self-reported data is drawn from a commissioned study of more than 1,300 security leaders, business executives and remote employees worldwide, including 118 respondents in Brazil. The study, Beyond Boundaries: The Future of Cybersecurity in the New World of Work, was conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Tenable in April 2021.
Remote work introduces new business risks
The move to a hybrid work model in Brazil required three significant shifts, all of which served to atomize the attack surface:
- Dissolving traditional workplace perimeters and providing technology that enables employees to work from anywhere
- Moving business-critical functions to the cloud
- Rapidly expanding the software supply chain with new tools for collaboration, communication and productivity
Today, 78% of Brazilian organizations have adopted remote work, with 83% planning to make it permanent in the next 1-2 years; 7% have already made the transition. These changes present significant challenges for security teams as the corporate attack surface expands. Eighty-two percent of remote workers in Brazil have six or more devices connected to their home networks, and many admit to using a personal device to access customer data (55%) and financial records (38%). What's more, 64% of security leaders say employees lack awareness of the available measures to secure home networks and personal devices. The majority of business and security leaders (59%) lack visibility into employee security practices.
As part of this new world of work, business functions are now cloud based. Today 69% of Brazilian organizations moved business-critical functions to the cloud and 82% moved non-business-critical functions. Yet, 97% of business and security leaders believe moving business critical functions to the cloud has increased their organizations' cyber risk.
Expanding the use of third-party software and other services also played a major role in enabling remote work while introducing new risk. More than three-quarters (78%) of Brazilian companies expanded their software supply chain and 76% enhanced existing digital platforms and services to meet changing customer needs. But the majority of business and security leaders in Brazil believe the expanded software supply chain (56%) and the creation of new digital platforms (64%) exposed them to more risk.
Unsurprisingly, 84% of Brazilian executives raised concerns that remote work increased their cyber risk.
Attackers capitalize on workforce changes
Executives' concerns are certainly warranted: the study found that cybercriminals overwhelmingly took advantage of the technology changes that facilitated remote work in Brazil. In fact, 92% of Brazilian organizations experienced a business-impacting cyberattack in the last 12 months.
When looking at the focus of these attacks:
- 72% of business and security leaders say the attacks targeted remote workers
- 66% report they involved an unmanaged personal device used in a remote work environment
- 59% say they involved cloud assets
- 43% cited VPN flaws or misconfigurations as the cause
- 41% report the attacks resulted from home router flaws or misconfiguration.
Securing the new world of work
The new world of work that combines in-office and remote work is here to stay. As a result, security and business leaders are turning their eyes forward and planning to increase investments to fill those gaps. In the next 1-2 years, leaders said the focus will be cloud-based productivity tools (83%), data security (80%) and vulnerability management (78%) solutions.
Securing the new world of work requires a new mindset. It's crucial that organizations gain a holistic view of their risk profile and re-evaluate their cybersecurity strategies to align with the new realities of the modern workplace and ensure businesses aren't left vulnerable.
If cybersecurity strategy fails to keep pace with business changes, today's risk could become tomorrow's reality.
*A business-impacting cyberattack is one which results in one or more of the following outcomes: loss of customer, employee, or other confidential data; interruption of day-to-day operations; ransomware payout; financial loss or theft; and/or theft of intellectual property.
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