The COVID-19 pandemic virtually changed our world overnight, with a third of the population forced to stay at home in hopes of curbing the spread of the virus. By keeping us in our homes, it also altered the way we do business. Prior to COVID-19 stay at home orders, the concept of working remotely wasn’t new—in fact, rates of working from home were steadily increasing—but it forced some businesses to quickly adapt to a working-at-home environment.
According to Stanford economist, Nicholas Bloom, roughly 42 percent of the U.S. workforce is now working from home due to COVID-19. With a staggering 33 percent currently out of work and a further 26 percent of essential workers who are still going to their jobs, we are by far a working-from-home economy.
This conversion from going to work to staying home to work has not been without its problems.
The logistics of ensuring employees had the means to work from home was the first hurdle. Most companies were presented with 3 options for securing equipment for their workers. They could purchase all new equipment to set up their employees’ home offices, they could allow them to come into the office to take their work computers or they could require that the employees utilize a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) arrangement and use the existing tech they already have at home.
Each option presents its own challenge. For employers considering purchasing new equipment, it was a problem of logistics. Since so many people were transitioning to working at home at the same time, mobile equipment became hard to purchase as the demand overwhelmed the supply. Not only did we see as much as a 29 percent increase in demand for notebook computers, but we also saw a decrease in the supply chain due to an Asian-manufacturing fall-off combined with a reduction in air freight slots.
Allowing employees to take their work computers could prove difficult as well. Many older desktop computers are heavier and harder to transport and not all jobs use laptops. Moreover, employees also needed to ensure that the data they’d need was on a given machine.
Utilizing a BYOD strategy isn’t perfect either; however, it is among the more popular approaches. But asking employees to use their home computers to access company data creates security problems.
After deciding on how employees are going to work from home, companies still have to contend with an increase in security issues. Cyber criminals have also taken advantage of the global confusion to double down on their efforts to access sensitive data. Research into COVID-19-related security threats uncovered that in the first quarter of 2020 alone, the rate of phishing attacks rose nearly 600 percent. Most of these attacks—45 percent—came in the form of malicious domains disguised as well-known websites.
Mobile devices especially became a threat using email phishing schemes. Because employees are using their mobile devices to view email and a mobile screen is much smaller than a computer screen, it is easier to accidently click on phishing links embedded in emails. Moreover, mobile devices don’t have the same level of anti-virus protection, which makes your data more vulnerable. This has exacerbated the need for solutions to protect mobile devices across their various means of communication, including:
- Instant messaging
- Social media