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Businesses everywhere faced a number of challenges since COVID-19 struck. Among one of the most notable has been the shifts required accommodate staff working from home. Without question, this has been a burden on employees, but businesses have had their own set of issues. This not only includes revising workflows in an effort to ensure productivity is maintained. It also involves the potential for cybersecurity threats with most workers logging in from home. Solving these problems have been difficult, and it appears they’ll likely continue given recent predictions for 2021.

Remote work demands are widespread with numerous industries realizing the advantages of these arrangements. Businesses can save on potential real estate costs and utilities. Likewise, many staff members prefer working from home and avoiding long commutes. But as remote work demands have risen, so has the demand for cybersecurity expertise. With a notable shortage of such professionals, companies face serious cybersecurity threats that could undermine remote work benefits. Solving this issue has therefore become a priority for many businesses today.

“With a second wave coming over the next few months, remote work is here until at least the second quarter of 2021,” Tom Gimbel, Founder and CEO, LaSalle Network, a staffing and recruiting firm

Remote Work Demands by the Numbers

It may surprise you to know that a significant amount of the workforce was already working remotely in 2019. In fact, surveys have shown that 20 percent of professionals worked outside their corporate offices. However, these figures jumped dramatically in April of this year. The same survey found that this figure had increased to 70 percent by the spring of 2020. This not only included salespeople and administrative staff but likewise managers, directors and senior officials. These statistics have changed little for most industries since that time.

As you might imagine, job recruitment ads have seen a similar rise in remote work demands over the last year. These figures are actually even more impressive. Using January of 2019 as a baseline, job posting data showed a 212 percent increase in ads offering remote work. This compares with only a 2.3 percent in job postings that request non-remote job duties. In particularly, professional and technical services have been impacted the most. Remote work demands for these titles have seen a 164 percent and 236 percent increase respectively.  With pandemic figures still rising, these working remotely trends are expected to persist for a while if not indefinitely.

“Certain skills, like cloud security and cyber-policy expertise, are in high demand due to the increased focus based on today’s landscape and the renewed interest in operational technology/IT cybersecurity at the federal level.” – Kurt John, Chief Cybersecurity Officer, Siemens USA

Cybersecurity Threats on the Homefront

Given that many staff members work from home, a variety of cybersecurity threats exist that didn’t before. Many are using their own personal devices as their work devices. In fact, surveys suggest this figure is over half of all remote workers. Likewise, roughly 90 percent use their own home networks, which are usually not well protected. And businesses are finding their cloud computing usage has risen by over a third during this time. Unfortunately, two-thirds lack inadequate protections, which also expose them to cybersecurity threats.

Some woman doing remote work from home
Cybersecurity threats still exist – and are even greater – when a workforce shifts to a remote work posture.

Given the situation, companies are finding themselves to a variety of potential privacy and security issues. Phishing scams, malware attacks and issues with data integrity are among the more common cybersecurity threats currently. Should these undesirable events occur, companies can experience a number of negative outcomes. Naturally, this can affect productivity and result in significant down time. But it can also cause more lasting damage to a business’ brand and reputation. This is why remote work demands and cybersecurity protection needs have risen at the same time.

“The top skills in demand focus around securing SaaS applications, federated identity, data control focused skills (classification, encryption, protection), threat intelligence, and zero trust, which is really focused on identity but may be called out differently.” – Brandon Hoffman, Chief Information Security Officer, NetEnrich

Demands for Cybersecurity Services

According to recent industry reports, over 128,000 IT jobs have been lost as a result of COVID-19. While this is disheartening, the same is not true for cybersecurity professionals. Recent accounts note that there are over 500 million available cybersecurity positions in the U.S. alone. This figure has risen significantly as cybersecurity threats have increased. In addition, it generally takes 21 percent longer time to fill a cybersecurity position than an IT job. These statistics together explain why so many companies are having difficulty securing in-house personnel in this area.

Remote work demands are forcing companies to come up with solutions to deal with rising cybersecurity threats. One option is to consult with such services in an effort to protect their business. This may be the best option not only for the current time but for the future as well. Many experts believe that remote work demands will continue well after the pandemic subsides. With new videoconferencing platforms and tools, they believe the workplace will morph into a physical-virtual hybrid. Innovations in AI associated with these platforms will offer enhanced collaboration, note-taking, and transcription abilities. Thus, the cybersecurity threats businesses are seeing today are not likely to go away. For this reason, companies will be best served by securing cybersecurity services sooner rather than later.

A Shifting IT Landscape

While many IT positions have been eliminated, that doesn’t mean opportunities don’t exist. Many businesses need help keeping their virtual environments secure. For this reason, cybersecurity services will be in high demand for a long time to come. Likewise, expertise in cloud computing and software development will also represent marketable skills. Remote work demands are definitely affecting the types of IT skillsets that many businesses will seek. Those who are able to better support a workforce now working from home will be well positioned to excel.

 

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