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Business leaders struggling with security amid hybrid working

by LLB Reporter
11th May 23 10:53 am

41% of UK business leaders think security is their biggest challenge day-to-day as over half are slowing investments due to inflationary pressures, research from Zen Internet has found.

A large majority (81%) mention either issues with the existing communication and collaboration tools they have in place, or difficulties implementing and integrating new ones as the main security challenges they face. Businesses need to be constantly on top of their security measures to remain secure and resilient against ever sophisticated cyberattacks.

Communications as entry point for attackers

The research has shown how perceptions of security across business technologies have changed, with 60% rating it more important now than previously. A steady stream of high-profile incidents affecting large companies in the past year have ensured the risks are rarely out of the news. If successful, attackers can leverage communications platforms to gain access to a company’s network leaving them free to impersonate staff and steal funds, for example, or to access and hold sensitive data for ransom.

As a result, over a quarter (27%) of business leaders are looking to modernise their communications to improve security, especially those operating hybrid and remote working models.

Regular vulnerability testing

More positively, business leaders are not just concerned, but they are increasingly taking proactive action. 82% are regularly testing their phone and voice networks for vulnerability at least once a month, helping reduce the likelihood of a breach, outage or other serious incident that could escalate via unauthorised access of communications channels.

Looking at other security measures business leaders have in place for their cloud communications, testing (42%), third-party outsourcing (38%) and strong password policies (38%) are the top three. As businesses utilise even more third party software for their communications requirements, they must ensure there’s clear ownership when it comes to the security of these systems, with regular patching and vulnerability testing a must.

Pressure to futureproof operations

The research comes while the telecommunications sector more broadly is bracing for major change, with full deactivation of the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) planned for 2025. While the vast majority (97%) of businesses are aware of the upcoming stop-sell of these services, one in ten (9%) are not clear on their next steps.

Only 15% of SMEs, meanwhile, have a formalised plan for migration, compared to 20% of large businesses. Without plans in place, unofficial and unauthorised channels will emerge, opening up inconsistencies that cyber attackers can exploit.

Lee Houston, Head of Product at Zen Internet, said: “Our research has found many businesses are still grappling with establishing a stable and secure environment for their operations. While the stop-sell and switch off of legacy communications looms, organisations must actively put enabling technologies in place to help them transition and support hybrid working securely.

“For many, delivering this remains challenging, but it’s promising to see more business leaders modernising their communications with security high on the agenda. Without plans in place, unofficial and unauthorised channels could emerge as employees seek to get work done without considering potential security risks, opening up inconsistencies that cyber attackers can exploit.”

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