After two years of the pandemic, confidence in addressing certain security risks and threats arising from hybrid and remote work has improved among businesses and organizations around the world. When it comes to secure access to applications, data, and systems, 84% of IT professionals this year said they have some degree of confidence in their current user access security systems to enable remote work securely and easily, compared to 56% in 2021, according to a survey conducted by 451 Research.
“The past few years have cemented remote work and work-from-anywhere as a permanent part of the security landscape, and they have also introduced new security risks and challenges. However, growing familiarity with remote work has ultimately broadened awareness on an enterprise level of daily business security risks and has strengthened both confidence and ability in security teams and products to handle those risks and threats properly,” said Francois Lasnier, VP of Access Management Solutions at Thales.
Addressing remote work security
Overall, the report findings suggest that firms remain concerned about the security risks of remote work, but those concerns seem to be less severe. At the same time, firms are also growing more confident in the ability of authentication and access management systems to manage those risks.
Only 31% of IT professional surveyed reported having “very high” concerns about the security risks and threats of remote work in 2022, down from 39% in 2021, while those who said they were “somewhat concerned” – the most popular response – increased from 43% to 48% in 2022.
Multi-Factor Authentication still not widespread
While multi-factor authentication (MFA) usage remains most prevalent for remote workers (68%) and privileged users (52%), the report shows that MFA adoption is on the rise for internal and non-IT staff with MFA adoption increasing to 40% compared to 34% in 2021. However, widespread MFA adoption by businesses is still yet to be the norm with just over half (56%) have adopted MFA in their organizations.
Access management, MFA and ZTNA
The survey inquired about direct impacts that the pandemic and remote work had on deployment plans for new access security technologies. Responses revealed a six-percentage-point global increase in plans to deploy stand-alone MFA, up from 31% in 2021.
The pandemic also impacted plans to deploy cloud-based access management, selected by 45% of respondents worldwide compared to 41% in 2021. These two increases illustrate respondents’ growing awareness that threats come from all angles, and that proper authentication and management of access and privileges is necessary for an adequate security foundation. Last year, Zero Trust Network Access/Software-Defined Perimeter (ZTNA)/(SDP) was the top choice, selected by 44% of respondents. In 2022, ZTNA was the second choice at 42%.
Garrett Bekker, Principal Analyst at 451 Research comments: “Just as the threat landscape has evolved, the tools and methods to handle the landscape have, too. However, even with innovative tools and boosted confidence levels, security plans and approaches still need to adapt to the ever-changing threat environment. A greater shift towards a Zero Trust model would place access management in a central role in corporate security strategies, with a related reliance on MFA as a critical supporting enabler.”