Pandemic protection lessons: IT teams reflect on their cyber readiness

Acronis Cyber Protect
formerly Acronis Cyber Backup
Cybercrime is on the rise following the pandemic

Six months ago, as organizations around the world responded to the COVID pandemic, they experienced a seismic shift in the way they do business. Entire offices suddenly emptied as employees began working remotely. IT teams were faced with all the challenges that come with facilitating that migration – new cybersecurity demands, new devices connecting to corporate networks, new privacy concerns, and new budgetary concerns that arise from everything else.

To assess how well IT teams faced this experience – where they were best able to transition to remote environments and where there was a clear opportunity for improvement – we developed our first-ever Acronis Cyber Readiness Report. For this report, we surveyed 3,400 companies and remote workers from around the world in June and July 2020 about the threats, challenges, and trends they’ve seen since switching to remote work.

Today, we’ll be taking a deep-dive into the experiences of IT professionals. For an overview of the full report, read the report release blog here.

Key takeaways for IT professionals

  • Nearly half of all IT managers struggled to instruct and secure remote workers.
  • 31% of global companies are attacked by cybercriminals at least once a day. The most common attack types are phishing attempts, DDoS attacks, and videoconferencing attacks.
  • 92% of global organizations had to adopt new technologies to complete the switch to remote work. As a result, 72% of global organizations saw their IT costs increase during the pandemic.
  • Attacks remain frequent, despite increased tech spending, because organizations aren’t prioritizing defensive capabilities properly.

The challenges of protecting and supporting remote employees

Transitioning an organization from an office environment to remote environments inevitably creates challenges. For IT teams, the most daunting of these challenges were based around enabling and protecting employees in their new environments.

More than half of the IT professionals we surveyed (54.7%) recognized enabling and instructing employees about remote work as their top challenge, while 49.7% reported that securing those remote environments proved to be the most frustrating.

In our deep-dive of remote worker responses in this report, employees echoed this experience, sharing that 47% of IT teams didn’t provide adequate guidance about the transition to remote work. With both sides of the organization highlighting communication and enablement as a pain-point in this process, it’s easy to identify it as an opportunity for improvement for future mass migrations. What’s more, given the increased cyberthreats that organizations face in remote environments, overcoming these challenges should be a key goal for organizations moving forward.

31% of organizations experience daily cyberattacks

With the chaotic nature of the remote work migration earlier this year, cybercriminals saw a golden opportunity to attack organizations rushing to protect corporate devices on a wide array of home networks that were almost universally less defended.

Today, 31% of organizations are attacked by cybercriminals at least once a day. Nearly 10% of those organizations are attacked once per hour.

Cybercrime is on the rise following the pandemic

Of those cyberattacks, the most commonly seen are phishing attempts (53.4%), DDoS attacks (44.9%), and videoconferencing attacks (39.5%) all of which try to leverage employee confusion and new technology to cripple organizations as they try to maintain themselves in dramatically different environments.

New technologies for collaboration and security

In response to the remote work migration, and the significant increase in cyberattacks that followed it, 92% of IT teams around the world brought new technologies into their corporate stack to facilitate better collaboration, accessibility, privacy, and security.

The most highly adopted tech categories following the transition to remote work were:

  • 63.8% Workplace collaboration tools (Zoom, Webex, Teams) and corporate file sync and share solutions
  • 52.1% Privacy tools (VPN, encryption)
  • 46.9% Endpoint cybersecurity solutions (antivirus, 2FA, vulnerability assessments, patch management)
Collaboration, privacy, and security tools adopted most

Because of these investments, nearly 75% of organizations saw their IT costs rise during the pandemic. Only one in five organizations were able to keep IT costs unchanged.

New tech adoptions increase IT spend

Despite these new technologies and this increased IT spending, cyberattacks remain a clear and present threat to organizations.

IT team priorities don’t match modern threats

When investing in new technologies during the pandemic lockdown, IT teams focused heavily on solutions that would deliver antimalware and antivirus capabilities. For nearly half of the organizations surveyed (43%), this capability was their top priority.

Meanwhile, phishing attempts reached their peak of popularity and URL filtering technologies that could have prevented them from costing precious time and money were only a priority for 2% of organizations.

IT teams aren't accounting for the modern threat landscape

This suggests that IT teams were guided in their purchasing decisions by an outdated perspective of the cyberthreat landscape. But beyond this, the capability prioritization that IT managers reported in this survey speaks to a broader issue with traditional data protection and cybersecurity solutions. IT teams are trained to view challenges, issues, and threats to their environments on a case-by-case basis and – as a result – build complex, patchworks of solutions to solve problems as they emerge.

In the modern digital world, where cyberthreats are increasingly sophisticated, IT networks are increasingly complex, and the cost of downtime is higher than ever, this approach to protection simply doesn’t work anymore.

Introducing Acronis Cyber Protect

Acronis Cyber Protect 15, the newly-released cyber protection solution, offers a comprehensive suite of capabilities engineered to address more of your IT needs through a single agent, interface, and license. By integrating data protection and next-generation cybersecurity capabilities – including AI-based behavioral detection that stops zero-day attacks, URL filtering, vulnerability assessments, videoconference protection, and automated patch management – organizations are secure against modern cyberthreats while ensuring they can recover their data and systems faster than any other solution.

The ability to unify multiple protection technologies into one solution also decreases the time an IT team needs to learn, deploy, and maintain the solution. With Acronis Cyber Protect, everything is managed via a single pane of glass, which enables the organization to streamline management, cut unnecessary administrative time, and lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) – all of which enables organizations in the post-pandemic to stay agile and enhance both productivity and security in remote work environments.

Final thought

This year’s Acronis Cyber Readiness Report illustrates a serious challenge for IT professionals. The pandemic threw into sharp relief how complicated corporate IT has become in recent years – how maneuvering a modern IT stack to support a sudden, dramatic shift to remote working can leave many unprepared and at risk. In order for that to change and for organizations to be better prepared for whatever the next global catastrophe will be, IT teams need to focus on solutions that are designed to be highly adaptable, integrated, and proactively protective. Simply put: they need cyber protection.

For a look at the full Acronis Cyber Readiness Report, download your copy here. For a look at the cyber protection solution designed to defend modern organizations like yours, learn more about Acronis Cyber Protect 15 here.

About Acronis

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.