IT pros see increased workload and security threats amid shift to remote working


Malicious emails, risky employee behavior, and a rise in software vulnerabilities are the top threats seen by IT professionals, says Ivanti.

Image: Niyaz_Tavkaev, Getty Images/iStockphoto

The coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown has triggered a rapid and abrupt move to remote working on the part of many organizations. Beyond disrupting the flow of the workforce, this shift had prompted an increase in the workload of many IT staffers as they grapple with security issues and other obstacles. A report released Tuesday by IT software vendor Ivanti highlights some of the challenges in light of the move to remote working.

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Surveying 1,600 IT professionals, Ivanti found a fairly dramatic shift toward a remote workforce. More than 40% of the respondents said that 75% of their organization’s employees are now working remotely, while 35% noted that all of their employees are working remotely.

Among those who reported at least some remote work, 93% said the number of remote employees has risen over the last few months. Most said that the shift was triggered by a government mandate or executive decision. Others said that the move was due to a change in family situations or an employee decision.

This quick shift has forced IT staffers to boost their efforts in certain areas. Among the respondents, 70% said they increased VPN access to more employees, 54% had to set up and distribute extra devices, and 52% created more “how-to” articles for remote workers to follow. In providing support for remote employees, IT pros cited the top departments with which they interacted as engineering, HR, and security.

The majority of those polled said they’ve seen a 37% increase in their workload since going remote along with a 39% rise in the number of incidents and support requests. VPN issues came in as the top request issue, cited by 74% of the respondents. Other prominent support requests included video conferencing issues, bandwidth constraints, password resets, messaging issues, file/data access problems, and new hardware requests.

Keeping track of hardware and software assets could easily pose challenges with a remote workforce. Among the respondents, 60% said their management of IT inventory is about the same as before, while 26% said it’s now harder to track devices among users. Most (82%) said they know what devices are accessing their network, but 13% said they were unsure. Some 29% said they’ve run into more difficulties trying to upgrade software among remote devices, while 32% said the process is about the same as before.

Cybercriminals have been taking advantage of the shift to remote working. Two-thirds of the IT pros surveyed have witnessed an increase in security issues due to the shift to remote working. Some 58% have seen a rise in malicious emails, 45% have found more risky and noncompliant behavior from users, and 31% have observed a jump in software vulnerabilities.

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Image: Ivanti

Most IT staffers had already been using collaboration tools before the change to remote working. Among the respondents, 69% use Microsoft Teams, 61% use Microsoft 365, and 43% use Zoom.

Finally, IT pros are themselves enjoying certain benefits from working at home. Some 44% cited the lack of a commute as the biggest bonus, followed by 19% who said they like the flexible work hours, and 16% who said they find they’re more productive.

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