IT Security must adapt to remote working

Expert warns that passwords are not enough security for staff working outside the corporate firewall.

Remote working is becoming more popular among UK organisations but there are warning signs that this could potentially leave companies open to hackers.

Almost two-thirds (61 per cent) of senior IT and security professionals say that their organisations still rely on passwords to secure access to infrastructure, according to a survey conducted by IT security company SafeNet, which also revealed that the number of companies that support remote working for half or more of their workforce has risen over the year from 18 per cent to 26 per cent.

The research, which surveyed 1,200 people, found that only 15 per cent of respondents used tokens to secure remote access of mobile workers. Furthermore, just eight and three per cent of companies respectively make use of smart cards or biometrics.

Gary Clark, vice president at SafeNet in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said that an eight per cent increase in the number of companies supporting remote working translates to thousands of workers operating outside of corporate firewalls.

"Organisations trying to reap the benefits of mobile working without adopting implementing adequate security technology and processes to protect the network are sitting on a security time bomb," he said.

Clark said that passwords have not been sufficient security for years as they are too easily compromised.

The survey found that nearly a third of IT professionals said that unauthorised access by outsiders was their primary concern.

"As organisations decentralise, the amount of sensitive business information floating outside the firewall will only continue to rise. This poses significant security threats for businesses, causing more stress for the IT director, as well as senior management," said Clark.

He added that mobile working and security do not have to be mutually exclusive and organisations have to adapt security measures to fit with working practices that include mobile workers.

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