Spotlight on France: The New World of Work Increases Cyber Risk, and Attackers are Looking to Capitalize
Where there was reluctance, the pandemic has forced French organizations to embrace hybrid and remote work models and they're not reversing this trend any time soon. Here's what it means for cyber risk.
Prior to the pandemic, just 24% of French organizations had employees working remotely. Today, that figure stands at 83%, while 96% plan to permanently adopt a remote work policy or have already done so. But embracing this new world of work opens up new and unmanaged cyber risk.
The self-reported data is drawn from a commissioned study of more than 1,300 security leaders, business executives and remote employees worldwide, including 153 respondents in France. 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.
Introducing a hybrid work model is complex
To introduce a remote and hybrid work environment, IT and security teams in France turned to cloud-based solutions, while quickly rolling out tools for connectivity, collaboration and productivity. Almost three-quarters (72%) of French organizations have moved business-critical functions to the cloud, including human resources (89%) and accounting and finance (71%). When asked if this move exposed the organization to increased cyber risk, 77% believed it did.
The result? Employees en masse are accessing sensitive intellectual property and data outside the confines of the office. In fact, 80% of French security and business leaders believe remote work exposes them to increased risk. This is a credible concern, as some remote French employees don't believe protecting customer data (18%) or the company's intellectual property (34%) is very important. What's more, 64% admit to using a personal device to access customer data, 30% use a personal device to access intellectual property and 18% access other classified information.
Attackers are taking advantage
Attackers have seized on the opportunities created by the shift to remote work. Ninety-three percent of French organizations experienced a business-impacting cyberattack* in the last 12 months, with 72% falling victim to four or more. When looking at the focus of these attacks:
- 70% resulted from vulnerabilities in systems and/or applications put in place in response to the pandemic
- 65% targeted remote workers or those working from home
The impact to organizations is far from trivial: 42% experienced theft of intellectual property; 39% were the victims of a ransomware attack; and 37% suffered data breaches.
We need to change the way we're thinking about risk
Organizations must re-evaluate their cybersecurity strategies to safely and securely embrace the new world of work.
Visibility of the entire attack surface is vital — both on premises and in the cloud. Knowing what's there, where vulnerabilities exist and what the impact would be should the worst happen allows the organization to effectively prioritize risk reduction and remediation efforts.
How organizations configure and manage Active Directory is another key area of focus. Organizations should create adaptive user risk profiles — built around who is accessing what, the device being used and from where the request originates — and continuously monitor each corporate data access request.
Security teams need visibility into their entire threat landscape and the ability to predict which cyberthreats potentially pose the greatest risk to the business, along with controls to take responsible action and address the risks introduced in the new world of work.
If cybersecurity strategies fail 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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