Almost a third of businesses lacked a network security plan prior to the pandemic

Report also finds that a quarter of firms experienced "major disruptions"

A report from the Neustar International Security Council (NISC) has found that 29% of companies did not have a fully executable business plan in place to keep their network secure in the event of a major crisis such as the current coronavirus pandemic.

The report, which surveyed 303 senior security professionals across Europe and the US, also found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of businesses experienced at least moderate disruptions to their network security business practices, while nearly a quarter (23%) admitted to experiencing major disruptions.

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The main reason for these were credited to the sudden shift to a remote working model as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

Rodney Joffe, chairman of NISC and SVP at Neustar, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way we work, which has impacted network security significantly. These latest findings from the Neustar International Security Council (NISC) highlight the challenges of using VPNs to allow the majority of the workforce to log on remotely.

"The main issue here is that cyber criminals understand that the hardening of connectivity from a denial of service point of view hasn’t been done.”

What's more, survey responses indicated that only 22% of corporate virtual private networks (VPNs) managed to avoid connectivity issues during the sudden shift to working from home, while 61% experienced minor connectivity issues.

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Joffe added that “social distancing measures that call for employees to work from home when possible have dramatically changed patterns of connection to enterprise networks”.

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“More than 90% of an organisation’s employees typically connect to the network locally with a slim minority relying on remote connectivity via a VPN, but that dynamic has flipped. The dramatic increase in VPN use has led to frequent connectivity issues, and — especially considering the disruption to usual security practices — it also creates significant risk, as it multiplies the potential impact of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. VPNs are an easy vector for a DDoS attack,” he said.

The NISC report comes after a survey from enterprise software company Aternity found that employees working from home during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown are suffering from a decline in productivity levels.

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