More than 7 out of 10 Indian companies experienced an increase in cyber attacks, a study surveying more than 3,000 IT decision-makers show. For many of them, it has been an ordeal by fire, as they learned to either set up or ramp up firewalls and fresh cybersecurity measures along the way.
India’s cybersecurity co-ordinator Rajesh Pant had pointed out recently that India is now the third most cyber-attacked nation in the world. A massive spike in online attacks—including through phishing, spamming and ransomware—had been noticed globally and domestically since the coronavirus-induced lockdown was imposed back in March.
“With organisations forced to shift to a new way of working almost overnight, the newly distributed workforce became a focal point for malicious actors. As a result, the pandemic has amplified the criticality of cybersecurity and brought new complexities to the fore,” says Vishak Raman, director (security business - India & SAARC) with Cisco, the global IT major which conducted the study.
"Now, as remote work continues to garner traction, organisations are turning their attention to building a robust cybersecurity foundation, with clouded security emerging as the top investment for 31 per cent of companies in re-inventing their workplaces post COVID-19,” he added.
The Cisco study found that Indian organisations found an increase of 25 or more in attacks or alerts since the pandemic hit the country in late spring. Indian companies were found totally unprepared to transition to the remote working style at the onset of COVID-19.
In 65 per cent of these firms, online security measures were adopted to support employees working from home only after issues cropped up.
With employees connecting from outside the corporate (fire)walls, secure access—defined as the ability to verify identity and establish trust no matter how, where or when users log in—turned out to be the biggest challenge for the IT security department in most organisations when supporting remote workers—as much as 68 per cent of Indian companies surveyed admitted. Other concerns raised by organisations included worries over data privacy (66 per cent) and how to stay safe from malware (62 per cent).
The study also suggested a trend towards a hybrid workplace in the future—where staff move between working from home and working from office. It also found that more than half of Indian companies expected the 50 per cent ratio to continue even after the pandemic—this percentage was just 28 per cent before COVID hit.