Today, more than at any time in history, companies across the globe are needing to rely on remote workers. And because remote workers are by definition not physically working on-site, companies are being faced with unique challenges in ensuring that their employees follow security protocols while relying on their own Wi-Fi networks and devices to access company data.
According to a new survey by cybersecurity solutions firm 1Password, employees are reacting to the challenge in a variety of ways, with most of whom saying that they have no criticism of their company’s IT team, and with nearly three-quarters saying that they would prefer to work from home “some or all of the time”.
Key findings: Security protocols supported
By surveying 1,000 desk-based knowledge workers in the United States between April 15 and 23, 1Password’s report shed light on how remote workers are responding to the set of day to day security challenges posed by being cooped up at home, as well as having to adopt the security protocols that go alongside it.
To begin with, IT departments across the board have made use of a number of different strategies with respect to protecting confidential information dealt with by remote workers over the course of the pandemic.
The three strategies were adopted by about a third of respondents each, with 36% of IT departments saying that they made no changes to their protocols after putting them into action, 30% saying that protocols were strengthened, and 29% saying that protocols were eased since the pandemic broke out.
Perhaps most notably, regardless of which strategy their employer adopted, the survey revealed that because remote workers tend to be following the rules around security protocols, ‘big brother’ tactics aren’t needed. According to the survey, 63% of IT workers expressed their belief that employees are following security protocols and requirements better when working from home.
This finding is reflected among the remote workers themselves. Of this group, more than half (58%) confirm the views of their colleagues in IT, saying that they are following security protocols better than they did while still working from the office.
The survey also uncovered differing trends with regards SMBs and enterprises. According to 1Password, over a third (35%) of SMBs say they plan to make stronger management and security for cloud software access a permanent change when their company emerges from the pandemic, with only a fifth (20%) of enterprise respondents expressing agreement to the same.
Enterprises also reported a higher degree of rigidity when it came to relaxing the rules around security protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly half (46%) of SMBs reported that relaxing some security protocols was on the cards, more than double that of enterprises, which sat at just short of a fifth (19%).
1Password’s survey also revealed an interesting dynamic in terms of age. Remote workers who are younger—between the ages of 18 and 39—were found to be more likely to favor convenience over security, with a full 20% agreeing with the statement. This figure stands the same for employees across the board who word at SMBs, according to the survey.
However, all things considered, convenience over security remains a minority opinion, with 84% of employees asserting that having the latter is more important than having the former.
Remote workers can indeed be secure workers
Amid a slew of negative press concerning the dangers of remote working and the ever-looming threat of hacking, the findings of 1Password’s report serve to offer a glimmer of hope, suggesting that, because security protocols are widely embraced by remote workers, there is indeed a cause for optimism.
“We were pleasantly surprised to see that employees are taking on the mantle of security themselves,” explained Matt Davey, COO at 1Password. “Now, more than ever, consumers are aware of breaches and their devastating impact, which is featured regularly in the media.”
Davey added his belief that, according to the data, the wholesale transition toward working in remote teams has made employees by and large realize how much of their work has become digital, pointing out that many also realize that “anything digital is at risk”.
“Employees have recognized that few extra clicks here or there to avoid being the gateway to a breach is well worth it,” he said.
Jeff Shiner, 1Password’s chief executive, appeared to agree, adding in a statement which announced the survey that working at the office can provide a false sense of security to employees.
58% of remote workers said they are following #security protocols better than they did in office. #respectdata
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“Perhaps just sitting in an office, complete with security guards, locked doors, and visibly-present IT and security teams lulls people into a sense of security,” he wrote, concluding that such a belief is largely misguided due to the nature of online threats.