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Remote Work Drives U.S. Surge in Security Challenges, Cloud Usage: ManageEngine Report

ManageEngine, the enterprise IT management division of Zoho Corporation, announced the final report from its recent study, The 2021 Digital Readiness Survey. The report found that 81% of U.S.-based IT professionals believe that having remote workers has increased their enterprise’s security challenges, while 74% acknowledge that their company’s use of cloud solutions increased as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also found that 96% of U.S. organizations plan to stick with remote work for at least the next two years.

Rising to Security Challenges

The report found that phishing is the most common threat (62%) identified by U.S. respondents, with endpoint network attacks (employee devices and edge devices) (49%) and malware (39%) as the second and third most prominent threats. Account hijacking and social-media-based attacks closely followed at 38% and 32%, respectively.

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Not only is this increase in cyberthreats jeopardizing organizational security, but it is also placing more pressure on IT teams. As a result of employees working remotely, the majority of organizations in the U.S. (97%) took necessary security actions to safeguard their data, namely:

  • Raising employees’ awareness: 77%
  • Training employees on cybersecurity: 68%
  • Adapting company security strategies: 58%
  • Monitoring employee devices: 47%
  • Implementing a Zero Trust network: 20%
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The U.S. excelled in limiting shadow IT, ranking the highest in the world (33%) in terms of IT teams needing to provide approval on all app purchases—10% higher than the global average. Nearly two-fifths of respondents (37%) said employees have purchased mobile-specific applications without direct approval from IT, followed by online meeting tools (29%) and document sharing applications (26%).

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“These findings indicate that the mass shift to a distributed workforce has forced IT to fundamentally reevaluate their security practices,” said Ajay Kumar, chief evangelist at ManageEngine. “The results should serve as a wake-up call for organizations to proactively ramp up their security measures through employee training and reinforcing their identity and access management, SIEM and unified endpoint management practices.”

Ramping Up Cloud Solutions

With remote work here to stay, U.S. executives are relearning how to best support their workforce. To that end, 53% of U.S. respondents learned new remote worker support skills and 52% said that their organizations’ remote worker support teams have increased their use of cloud solutions in the last year.

“Cloud adoption shows no signs of slowing, especially after the shift to digital operations that many businesses had to make to survive in 2020,” added Kumar. “While there are improvements to be made, this survey solidifies that cloud solutions aren’t going anywhere.”

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