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Organisations struggling to defend attack surface in hybrid work

By Ryan Morris-Reade, Tue 19 Oct 2021

IT organisations are struggling to defend against the rising threat of cyberattacks as organisations around the world continue to operate in a hybrid working environment, the State of Security in a Hybrid World survey has revealed.

The survey of 1,250 security decision-makers across medium to large organisations in the US, the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands, conducted by Citrix Systems, says as the pandemic wears on, things haven’t gotten any easier.

Securing the Future of Work

With end-users working from anywhere - in some cases using personal devices to access cloud apps and corporate resources - the attack surface is larger than it has ever been. And many IT organisations are struggling to defend it. 

The Citrix study found: 74% of security decision-makers say procedures and controls have become more complex as their organisation's transitions to remote and hybrid work, while 73% are fighting to keep up with the increased volume of security threats that the models create.
 
Enhancing the Employee Experience

Employees today want the flexibility to work when, where and how they want to use the applications and devices of their choice. In addition to security decision-makers, Citrix also polled 3,603 knowledge workers, and 66% say it is “extremely” or “very important” to be able to work remotely or from home, on any device. 

Savvy organisations recognise this.

The survey found 86% of respondents feel it is “extremely” or “very important” to create a seamless employee experience, and 
Around nine in 10 measure information security’s impact on employee experience and productivity  
 
Changing the Game

“IT organisations are realising that as they embrace hybrid work, their security posture needs to evolve,” says Kurt Roemer, chief security strategist, Citrix.

“Rather than traditional command and control-style strategies, they need to take a more intelligent, people-focused approach to security that protects employees without negatively affecting their experience.”

Most participants in the Citrix survey are taking action to do this, with 79% of decision-makers polled saying the pandemic has created an opportunity to completely rethink their long-term information security strategy with these objectives in mind. 

Yet challenges remain. Among the top three cited by workers who participated in the Citrix research:

  • Poor connectivity (43%)
  • Navigating technical problems virtually (34%) 
  • Inability to get IT support quickly/easily (32%) 

Investing in the Future

The news isn’t all bad, however. While only 46% of security decision-makers felt “somewhat prepared” for remote work when the pandemic hit, 84% now feel “very” or “somewhat” prepared to secure a hybrid, remote or at-home workforce. 

The survey found 58% say investments in security have increased over the last 12 months by an average of 40%, while 71% say their company’s IT environment is now more secure than it was before the pandemic struck.

And that’s critical because as The State of Security in a Hybrid World also makes clear, 52% of security decision-makers believe most of their workforce will be permanently remote or hybrid. 

“Hybrid work is the future of work, and IT will play a critical role in delivering it,” Roemer says. “With the right technology, they can provide consistent, secure and reliable access to the resources employees need to get work done, wherever it needs to get done and empower them to be and do their best.”

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