The capacity of firms to offer remote working can be a key determinant of their agility, flexibility and capacity to deal with a crisis - but there can also be risks involved.
Being able to work anytime and anywhere, with cloud connectivity and modern communications helping people to stay in touch and share data creates plenty of opportunities to span barriers of geography, with great benefits for firms wanting to offer flexible working to suit the lifestyles of people who might otherwise not be able to take up a role.
At the same time, as has been evident over the last 18 months, it is invaluable for business continuity; the kind of thing that was once envisaged for the scenario where the office is closed because the pipes are leaking has enabled many firms to carry on right through a pandemic.
However, the use of the cloud to make this happen means that cloud security is more important than ever. It is why cloud penetration testing is so vital; firms need to know their systems are secure if they are going to use this channel without being successfully attacked by cyber criminals.
The news this week that the government plans to establish new rules allowing people to ask to be allowed to work from home from the very start of a new job (instead of the current rule where they have to be there 26 weeks) means home working will become even more the ‘new normal’ than it is now.
It’s good news for those seeking jobs further from their home than they would want to regularly commute, but it adds to the need for firms to ensure the IT infrastructure that makes it all possible is secure. There will be plenty of crooks licking their lips at the thought that some firms will fall short in this regard.
Small businesses will be a particular target as they adjust to the new ways of working. A study by Arctic Wolf found 73 per cent of SMEs presently lack the capacity to withstand a cyber attack. Reporting on this, Simply Business noted there are many reasons smaller firms have not equipped themselves with adequate defences against this threat.
Among these factors - identified by various pieces of research - are a sense of ‘security fatigue’ caused by receiving dozens of alerts daily, a lack of time to prioritise security and a misplaced belief that the crooks will only really go after the big firms.
The reality, of course, is that larger firms will have the capacity to dedicate more money, time and labour to building up their cyber security. A useful analogy might be that a burglar can have more success targeting the average home with less security for its limited goods than a mansion with high gates and a state-of-the-art home security system.
Since smaller firms will now need to embrace home working more, the need to ensure their cloud use and other IT systems are as secure as possible will become more important than ever.