Mobile Insecurity: Changing Workplace Models Expose Enterprise Vulnerabilities

Amy Larsen DeCarlo – Principal Analyst, Security and Data Center Services

Summary Bullets:

• Almost half of organizations queried suffered a mobile device related breach in the last year.

• The majority of organizations link the increase in incidents to migration to a hybrid work environment.

It is no secret that the sudden shift to remote work during COVID-19 lockdown put tremendous pressure on IT teams as they scrambled to deploy and manage new collaboration tools and related IT services. Over time, it became apparent that many enterprise security vulnerabilities were exposed in that overnight migration, and as a result there was an uptick in breaches.

But as challenging as managing a more virtual operating model is from an IT perspective, the appeal of a more flexible work environment had more organizations weighing a continuation of at least partially remote operations. In a survey of security professionals from 600 organizations conducted for its Mobile Security Index, Verizon found that only one in eight said less than 10% of their staffs worked remotely.

Unfortunately, the number of breaches has increased over the last year, with 45% of surveyed organizations citing an increase in mobile-related attacks. The number of enterprises that experienced a mobile attack is substantially higher – 61% – for businesses with global operations. Of these incidents, 44% were directly linked to end user behavior. More than half of CISOs queried by SASE vendor Absolute and included in the report tied the increase in attacks to the move to hybrid work. Research conducted by defense and aerospace contractor Thales found that 79% of organizations are concerned about the risk that running a remote workforce poses to the security posture of the company.

Among the biggest obstacles to securing a hybrid work environment is communication – or the lack thereof. Only 49% provide specialized security training to remote workers. Less than half – 47% – provide counsel on maintaining privacy when working remotely in a shared environment.

A potential upside to managing an IT infrastructure in the current era is a tremendous awareness of how critical maintaining an effective security posture is to supporting optimal operations. Organizations are focused on improving their security postures through both technology and processes. Eighty-two percent of surveyed organizations have either already adopted or are seriously considering implementing a zero trust architecture.

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