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Shift in Irish workforce location

Recent CSO figures published in June 2020 showed a mix of the workforce "not currently working", in their normal workspaces or working remotely as a result of Covid-19.

Micro Enterprises seems to have been the highest hit sector with 24.6% not working in comparison to Larger Enterprises that were only 15.8% not working.

Working remotely had seen an increase in popularity over the last 5yrs driven by professionals wishing to optimise work/life balance and reduce commute times.

Covid-19 accelerated working from home (WFH) numbers within a matter of weeks. Employees, as well as organisations, benefit from this type of model including:

  • Smaller offer space or the use of hub location to facilitate vital staff members on a needs basis rather than being contract bound.

  • Lowers operating costs such as computers, phones, electricity and heating.

  • Larger talent pool.

  • WFH has shown to reduce absenteeism, tardiness and their associated costs.

With this unexpected surge in remote working, cybercriminals seized the opportunity with increased volumes of phishing attacks, including attacks on hospitals and the WHO.

Home networks are generally very poor in their security measures. In an office setting, you have technical support to ensure WiFi networks are hidden and access to passwords are limited to admin but how can people improve the security of their new "home office"?

Home WiFi Security:

Home WiFi routers come with standard passwords. Often consumers don't change these passwords so it's very straightforward to access a network when you know they are using a specific router. Home networks probably have weaker protocols (WEP instead of WPA-2, for example). This allows hackers easier access to the network’s traffic.

Phishing Scams:

Phishing attacks are widely recognised as the top cause of data breaches. Hackers can easily send seemingly legitimate, deceptive emails with malicious links and attachments. Once an employee clicks on this malicious link, a hacker is able to gain access to the employer’s device. In particular, during Covid-19 the demand for information was so great that phishing scams included attachments claiming to have Covid-19 updates which proved to be a very effective strategy.

Insecure Passwords:

Unique passwords changed regularly. Simple passwords are incredibly easy for hackers to crack, and furthermore, if an insecure password is used across several platforms, it allows hackers to gain unauthorised access to multiple accounts in a very short period of time.

With many more months of restrictions ahead, working from home will likely continue into 2021 and 2022 but both businesses and employees will have to take more control over their contribution to securing valuable data through simple effective steps.

More information on the CSO Research can be found here.

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