Businesses Must Secure Their Devices Now to Safely Embrace Arrival of Hybrid Working

As we emerge from a challenging 12 months of home working, the debate around a mass return to the office is gaining momentum. The reality, however, is that remote working is going nowhere, and we must instead look to embracing a future of hybrid working.

An estimated 25% of UK workers will work from home full-time by 2025 and businesses will be faced with managing a workforce spread across different geographies. Now we know what’s achievable from the comfort of our own homes, the idea of exclusively working in an office has become dated. The term ‘workplace’ has never been more fluid.  

For IT teams, this presents a series of challenging hurdles. The pivot to remote working has brought with it an exponential increase in cybersecurity threats: there were more data breaches in the last 12 months than in the last 15 years combined. Organizations face a race against time to protect themselves from being next.

Identifying Key Risk Factors

At Samsung, we recently surveyed UK businesses to understand the key challenges businesses have faced during the pivot to remote working and where their security concerns lie in the lead up to a hybrid working future. The primary concern among those surveyed was the use of personal devices for work. With 30% businesses not possessing enough devices to cover everyone that needs one, employees are turning to their own, unprotected devices, to conduct their business. 

Seven out of 10 employees admitted to using a personal smartphone or tablet for work purposes, with 18% of those claiming they had “no confidence” in the security of their device. This poses a significant risk factor to IT teams trying to protect their company data. Whether it be file sharing over an unprotected network or downloading malicious apps, the gateways opened when using a personal device cannot be ignored.

Regaining Control with EMM solutions

Our insights show that organizations face an uphill battle to regain control of the mobile devices being used to handle their data. Fortunately, it also revealed a solution that is already proving to be effective in alleviating security fears: Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM).

Over the last 12 months, adoption of EMM has rocketed, with three-quarters of decision-makers saying that the pivot to remote working has accelerated their use of the technology. Such are the benefits – 100% users agreed its impact had been positive – that 88% leaders planned on investing more into EMM in 2021.

Over half of EMM adopters (55%) selected enhanced security as a key benefit, thanks to the ability to remotely upgrade device software and install new security patches as soon as they’re available. The ability to distribute essential content to employee devices while restricting access from unauthorized devices and users is also invaluable. As a result, nine in 10 who currently use EMM – such as our Enterprise Edition package – feel confident in the security of their company’s devices – significantly higher than those who don’t (78%).

Securing Company Devices from the Chip Up

For those that can invest in upgrading their hardware, an integrated security platform must be a priority. By enrolling devices that come encrypted with a security platform built from the chip up, IT teams can stay one step ahead of the security risks and keep company data safe. Those using our own Knox platform, for example, can now forecast future threats by learning from current device and network usage to produce automated configurators, incident reports and threat remediation.

Hardware is also now upgrading to protect data from itself. Trusting a device’s main OS to store sensitive data might seem safe but can easily fall into the hands of the wrong person if breached. By combining security-specific hardware – a new secure processor and isolated secure memory – and new integrated software within a device, data can be isolated. This presents hackers with multiple barriers to breach even after gaining access to the device, a hyper-secure model that our Samsung Knox Vault extension is based upon. 

These are solutions that are already crossing the minds of those considering their 2021 purchasing decisions. Our survey revealed that the leading priorities for 2021 were key upgrades across security platforms (45% of decision-makers), outdated software (37%) and hardware (35%).

No-one is Exempt from Cybercrime

The final point to make is one that might usually seem elementary: with the right devices, must come the right education. We must continue to remind employees of their responsibilities when it comes to handling company data, especially when they are working from home.

Approximately nine in 10 security breaches occur through human error, and our insights highlighted the anxiety in decision-makers about the care taken by their employees. Both password sharing (48%) and phishing attacks (45%) were selected as primary security concerns of remote working, showing employee training must continue to be a priority, wherever they are.

Mobility will undoubtedly play a leading role in the 21st Century’s own “Roaring 20s” as a key tool in bringing digital transformation projects to life. However, the excitement of its potential must be balanced with sensible levels of caution and protection, and businesses must deploy a mobility strategy that enables more choice, more control and more protection.

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