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Lockdown increased risks as security teams shrank

(Image credit: Image Credit: Balefire / Shutterstock)

The Covid-19 health crisis has exacerbated the cybersecurity problems businesses in the UK and the US were already facing.

According to a new report from Exabeam, based on a poll of more than 1,000 IT security professionals, organizations were forced to cut IT security staff to survive the pandemic.

Fewer workers in the IT security sector, however, meant greater risk and an increase in the number of successful breaches.

The report claims that roughly three quarters (74 percent) of companies in the UK saw either “slightly” or “considerably” more attacks in the second quarter of the year. A third of the respondents, meanwhile, said they suffered a successful cyberattack that resulted in downtime.

Most organizations pulled the handbrake on IT security hiring from March until June this year, and even furloughed and fired existing employees. 

Despite the correlation, though, many businesses did not list staff cuts as the main reason for a weakened cybersecurity posture. Less than a quarter (22 percent) mentioned staff shortages as their biggest challenge when it came to mitigating threats associated with remote working.

Communicating with security teams and other IT functions was instead listed as the greatest challenge, followed by network security and visibility issues.

“Companies are grappling with the security fallout from an unexpected shift to remote work, but it’s business as usual for cybercriminals and foreign adversaries with unprecedented opportunity,” said Steve Moore, Chief Security Strategist at Exabeam.

“The rise in attempted cyberattacks while companies experience staff reductions is a harsh reminder of the security and financial challenges created by the pandemic. Automation of repetitive tasks can allow security teams to improve efficiency and accuracy in the remote environment, especially focusing on the credential, as well as detection and mitigation.”