It’s that time of year again, the report we can set our watches by. Amazing how quickly it comes round, isn’t it?
We are of course talking about the sixth Okta 2020 Businesses @ Work report, but this time it’s a bit different because most of us aren’t actually at work, we’re at home. Working from home granted, but at home.
The data has been analysed, the numbers have been crunched and in their own words the report gives us ‘an in-depth look into how organisations and people work today, exploring workforces and customers, and the applications and services they use to be productive.’
It’s a fascinating report based on data gleaned between 13th January and 31st March 2020 and you can read it in full here. What’s interesting is that last year the report was based on Okta’s customer base of around 5,600 companies. This year that number is something like 8,000.
The World Has Changed…
You may have read this (or something similar before) but it’s fair to say that Covid-19 has created a set of challenges that we’ve never had to face before. Almost as one, we shifted or workstations from our offices to our homes and while for most it’s been relatively plain sailing, for some IT departments it’s been a headache of biblical proportions. They have had to find innovative ways to keep us productive, connected and most importantly, secure.
More Apps, More Tools, Comfier Trousers
What will come as no surprise to anyone is that major growth is centered around two main areas – collaboration tools and network security tools.
Video conferencing has become pervasive, not just for work but for precious family gatherings so it’s no shock that Zoom was the fastest growing app, not just in the collaboration niche, but overall, with an incredible 110% growth (compared to just 6% for the same period the year before).
Where network security and performance are concerned, the fastest movers were Palo Alto Networks’ GlobalProtect with 94% growth (compared to 20% for the same period the year before) and Cisco’s AnyConnect with growth of 84%. To move enterprises into the cloud at scale and at unprecedented speed, these VPN tools have proven to be invaluable.
More comforting – especially to cynical old IT pros like us – was that the fifth fastest growing app was Proofpoint Security Awareness Training, up 40% from February to March, an indication that ‘companies aren’t just scrambling to get everyone up and running remotely—they are taking the extra step to protect the organisations’ notoriously weakest link, human error.’
These statistics back up the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically altered users’ behaviour. All being well, in a year’s time we’ll look back at this and say ‘wow, that was pretty rough’ but we’ll also be able to benefit from a number of silver linings to this particularly dark cloud.
‘An unexpected transition to working from home often requires a new set of problem-solving skills’ and based on the fact that LinkedIn Learning experienced 23% month-on-month growth, it seems like the new wave of homeworkers are taking it upon themselves to expand their skill sets and invest much-needed and long overdue time in themselves.
Is ‘To Zoom’ Now A Verb?
As far back as 2018, Zoom overtook Cisco Webex as the world’s top video conferencing tool in Okta’s network and unsurprisingly has shown a meteoric rise in popularity as not just the go-to tool for remote workforces but, as the report says, ‘a way to maintain relationships and commitments outside of work as well.’
You Know Us, Here’s A Few Stats
As with any period of uncertainty, those with a nasty streak will always look to take advantage of the vulnerable and cybercriminals are no different, launching a flood of phishing and identity attacks.
Stat 1: Barracuda researchers observed a 667% increase in spear-phishing attacks since the end of February 2020 and even the FBI thought it necessary to issue a warning concerning the increase in fraud schemes due to Covid-19.
Stat 2: Next Caller reports that about 32% of 1,000 surveyed Americans believe they’ve already been targeted by fraud or scams related to Covid-19, and the company predicts ‘a second wave of fraud will leverage broadscale confusion and the sheer volume of activity…to prey on desperate individuals and overwhelmed businesses.’
Add in the fact that around the world, tens – even hundreds – of millions more people have made applications to banks, loan companies and government departments for help, loans, deferrals, unemployment and various other forms of assistance, there are opportunities abound for fraud and deception on a massive scale.
What Else Did The Report Say?
The report discusses how, now more than ever, security should be the number one consideration for a business, especially as the situation we find ourselves in means that existing and evolving attacks are leveraging on our fears and sudden changes of behaviour.
Crappy as it may be, cybercriminals are taking advantage of remote and key workers, people’s legitimate health concerns, applications for welfare and stimulus payments and even our most trusted brands with ‘attachments’ on how to stay safe; URLs asking employees to fill out a disease awareness survey and even registrations for ‘mandatory’ seminars once all this is over to see how we all coped.
‘Proofpoint researchers have observed an increase in video conferencing company-themed attacks seeking to steal credentials and distribute malware. These attacks do not leverage or attack video conferencing software directly: threat actors are using the names and brands of these video conferencing companies as themes in their social engineering lures, which lead to the theft of various account credentials, malware distribution, or credential harvesting for these spoofed video conferencing accounts.’
Obviously it’s hard to conclude anything while we’re still in the midst of such confusion and uncertainty but Okta’s global customer base has ‘reacted to the pandemic quickly, rolling out remote communication apps, extending VPNs, and adding MFA to ensure the productivity, connectivity, and security of their (now) remote workforces. This first phase of evolution enables remote work so companies can thrive.’
Once the dust settles, the belief is that businesses of all sizes and complexities will be ready for what they’re calling a ‘second phase of evolution’, adding applications and tools that will both enable and strengthen remote productivity and to also enhance what is likely to become a new version of what we consider ‘normal’.
Contact us today on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7078 0789 and we’ll talk cloud and email security, communications platforms, cutting-edge IT solutions or when the last time you called your parents was to see if they needed anything and not relying on your brother or sister to do it. Be honest now…