Firms Splurge on Security and Staff During Pandemic

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A majority of global organizations have been spending more on cybersecurity and compliance during the pandemic, whilst also reporting increased pressure to reduce costs, according to new Microsoft data.

The Redmond giant polled nearly 800 business leaders from organizations with over 500 employees in the UK, US, Germany and India to better understand how COVID-19 has impacted cybersecurity.

The report revealed that 58% had increased security budgets and 65% upped compliance spending, although 81% said they’re also under pressure to cut overall security costs. Organizations with mostly on-premises environments are apparently more likely to feel squeezed on budgets.

In terms of technology spending, multi-factor authentication (20%), endpoint device protection (17%) and anti-phishing tools were the top targets for investment.

That tallies with respondents’ claims that phishing has been the biggest risk, with 90% citing it.

In the longer term, 40% said they are prioritizing investments in cloud security tools such as Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Cloud Workload Protection Platform and Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), followed by data security (28%) and anti-phishing (26%).

Part of the increased spending on security has also gone on new hires, according to the Microsoft data.

Over two-fifths (42%) said they’d brought in new talent to help out, while 40% outsourced the work. On the other side, 31% said they’d instituted a hiring freeze and 19% had downsized their security team.

The pandemic has also accelerated plans to transition to a Zero Trust environment for more than half (51%) of respondents, perhaps linking back to the large numbers investing in MFA.

“Security technology is fundamentally about improving productivity and collaboration through inclusive end user experiences. Improving end user experience and productivity while working remotely is the top priority of security business leaders (41%), with ‘extend security to more apps for remote work’ identified as the most positively received action by users,” argued Microsoft Security general manager, Andrew Conway.

“Not surprisingly, then, ‘providing secure remote access to resources, apps and data’ is the biggest challenge. For many businesses, the journey begins with MFA adoption.”

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