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UK businesses are leaving 23% of work computers unprotected from cyberthreats

September 2020 by Kaspersky

With more of us working at home – perhaps forever – thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever to protect work devices that are no longer connected to a secure company network. However, new research commissioned by Kaspersky has revealed that nearly one quarter of UK work computers are potentially vulnerable to cyberthreats.

Although almost one third (32%) of UK consumers have been provided with a corporate computer by their employer, only 77% of desktops have adequate antivirus or cybersecurity software installed. That means 23% of company desktops are insecure. This figure is particularly alarming given that nearly half (48%) of the UK’s 32.9 million workers have been working remotely from their normal workplace during lockdown.

Business laptops, which many of us use on a daily basis, are slightly more likely to be protected, with 83% equipped with adequate security software. However, this still leaves almost one-in-five (17%) corporate laptops vulnerable to attack. Company-provided smartphone devices are similarly vulnerable, with another 23% of business mobile phones lacking antivirus or security software.

“If anything happened to my smartphone, it would hugely affect the running of my business. But I don’t actively protect it, despite the fact that I do my laptop. I don’t actively neglect doing so; it’s just that it’s never been front of mind. I’ve never been made fully aware of the cyberthreats posed to smartphones, even when purchasing one,” said Kelly Grainger, a campaign case study. Kelly, who co-founded of Hudia and is a business consultant, uses his smartphone to help manage and run the business.

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has seen more workers allowed, or even encouraged, to use personal smartphones or laptops for work activities in recent years. This has only risen since the pandemic, with many workers sharing business information or contacting colleagues on personal devices. For instance, more than half (57%) of respondents state they use personal smartphones to check work email, while 36% rely on their personal laptop or desktop for work.

However, personal devices are even less likely to be protected than employer-supplied equipment: almost half (47%) of personal smartphones lack antivirus software[2], along with 43% of tablets, leaving those devices potentially vulnerable to cyberthreats.

“Our devices have become an essential part of living our lives to the full. And yet, we seem to have forgotten about their vulnerabilities,” comments Alexis Conran, Times Radio host and presenter of The Joy of Techs. “Mobiles and laptops contain a potentially devastating amount of information about us - and the companies we work for - which is fast becoming the most valuable commodity in the world. Consequently, the more we do on our devices, the more businesses need to think about protecting them.”

Overall, UK consumers are more likely to protect their computers from cyberattacks, while leaving their mobile devices open to threats with 79% of laptop owners and 80% of desktop users installing antivirus and security software on these personal devices. Comparatively, nearly one third (31%) have never thought about protecting their phone with antivirus protection, while one fifth (21%) believe their phone can’t be hacked.

“When company devices are used outside the workplace, they are at greater risk of cyberthreats. Therefore, it’s troubling to discover that nearly a quarter of corporate computers and smartphones lack antivirus software, leaving them potentially vulnerable to attack. It’s important that all businesses pre-install staff computers and devices with security software to ensure they are protected at all times. Employers must also make sure staff know how to install or check the status of antivirus software while working on personal, or company devices from home, to secure corporate information and networks,” comments David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky




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