Cybercrime is the biggest threat to hybrid work, latest study reveals

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PHILIPPINES – Fortinet, the global leader in cybersecurity solutions, has released a comprehensive survey conducted by IDC across nine countries in the Asia-Pacific region, shedding light on the impact of hybrid work on organizations and the strategies employed to tackle the associated security challenges. The report provides valuable insights into the evolving cybersecurity landscape, particularly in The Philippines, and highlights the need for robust solutions to safeguard against emerging threats in the digital era.

One of the key findings of the survey is the rise of the “Branch-Office-of-One” phenomenon, where employees have transitioned to hybrid or fully remote work models. In The Philippines, an impressive 88% of respondents reported employing a hybrid or remote working structure, with 58% having at least half of their workforce operating in a hybrid mode. Consequently, employees have become independent entities working from various locations, leading to a projected surge in managed devices by 100% or more within the next two years, according to 48% of respondents. Additionally, 76% of organizations in The Philippines expect unmanaged devices to grow by over 50%, exacerbating the complexity and risk of security breaches, thereby adding strain to IT security teams already facing heavy workloads.

The survey also highlights the risks associated with unmanaged devices. As more users, devices, and data reside outside enterprise networks, the current statistics in The Philippines indicate that 30% of devices connecting to networks are unmanaged, increasing the possibility of security breaches. Moreover, 76% of respondents in The Philippines anticipate a 50% surge in unmanaged devices by 2025, emphasizing the urgent need to address this vulnerability.

Cloud security emerges as a significant concern in the era of hybrid work. With employees requiring multiple connections to third-party cloud applications to maintain productivity, organizations face the challenge of ensuring network security while facilitating seamless connectivity. The survey reveals that employees in The Philippines currently need over 30 connections to third-party cloud applications, a number that is expected to double within the next two years, with over 70% of respondents foreseeing a tripling of connections. This amplifies the risk of security breaches, underscoring the inadequacy of traditional security measures in this evolving landscape.

The increase in hybrid work and the corresponding growth in managed and unmanaged connections have contributed to a substantial rise in security incidents. An overwhelming 94% of respondents in The Philippines reported experiencing at least a 2X increase in security incidents, with 62% of organizations stating that breaches have more than tripled. The survey identifies phishing, denial of service, data/identity theft, ransomware, and data loss as the top security incidents. Alarming data shows that only 49% of organizations across Asia have dedicated security personnel, leaving them vulnerable to security incidents and breaches.

To address the challenges posed by hybrid work, organizations in The Philippines are turning to Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions. SASE provides a comprehensive framework that combines networking and security services to enhance organizations’ security posture while ensuring a consistent user experience for remote employees. The survey reveals that many organizations plan to invest in a Single-Vendor SASE solution, which streamlines operations and simplifies security policy management.

Consolidation and convergence emerge as key trends in the adoption of SASE solutions. A significant 76% of respondents in The Philippines express a preference for a single vendor for networking and security capabilities, while 82% are actively consolidating or considering consolidating their IT security vendors. Furthermore, over half of the respondents (54%) favor a single vendor for cloud-delivered security services and Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN). This preference stems from the various benefits cited, including reduced security gaps, improved network performance, ease of deployment, and addressing integration and scalability challenges.

Alan Reyes, Country Manager at Fortinet Philippines, emphasized the importance of acknowledging the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber-attacks and data breaches in The Philippines. Reyes expressed Fortinet’s commitment to bridging the cybersecurity skills gap and providing necessary cybersecurity knowledge and awareness to all employees in an organization. Fortinet’s Single-Vendor SASE solution aims to simplify security policy management and enhance the user experience for remote employees, offering effective measures to address the security challenges presented by the changing workforce.

Daniel Kwong, Field CISO for Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, highlighted the urgent need for organizations to adopt comprehensive security strategies in the face of the “branch-office-of-one” environment. With employees and devices operating outside traditional office boundaries, organizations must prioritize security. Kwong noted that Single-Vendor SASE, with its converged networking and security capabilities, has proven to be a game-changer for organizations seeking a simplified and consistent security posture for both on and off-network users.

Simon Piff, Research Vice President at IDC Asia/Pacific, emphasized the importance of prioritizing security posture and investing in cloud-delivered solutions that integrate seamlessly with on-premises solutions. Piff highlighted the need for efficient management and zero-trust architecture to enhance security and usability. He urged organizations to address these challenges and invest in security solutions that support their hybrid workforce, thereby reducing security threats.

The survey encompasses insights from 450 cybersecurity leaders across various industries in nine locations across Asia, including Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. The extensive sample size provides a robust foundation for understanding the cybersecurity landscape in the region.

The survey findings underscore the critical importance of proactive cybersecurity measures in the era of hybrid work. As organizations navigate the complexities of a distributed workforce, investing in comprehensive security solutions and adopting Single-Vendor SASE can significantly enhance their security posture while ensuring a seamless user experience. By addressing the evolving cybersecurity challenges, organizations can safeguard their operations and protect against emerging threats in the dynamic digital landscape.

Disclaimer: This article is based on the survey conducted by Fortinet and IDC and aims to provide an overview of the findings. The statements and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Fortinet, IDC, Reuters, or CNN.