Most Asia Pacific companies, including the Philippines, experienced 25 percent jump in cyber threats since the pandemic started, according to the latest Cisco study.
Philippine companies overtook regional and global averages on adopting a remote workplace, increasing cybersecurity challenges.
The bulk of local firms, 64 percent, consider cybersecurity as an extremely important component in the remote work setup.
However, secure access – the ability to verify identity and establish trust no matter how, where, or when remote workers log in, paired with enforcing policies, emerged as the top cybersecurity challenge faced by 62 percent of local firms.
Unsurprisingly, data privacy was also a top concern for 56 percent of Filipino businesses.
“Cybersecurity has been a buzz word in the Philippines for years, but this pandemic has really pushed companies to take action within their own organizations,” remarked Karrie Ilagan, Managing Director of Cisco Philippines.
Cisco’s Future of Secure Remote Work Report surveyed over 3,000 IT decision makers globally, including over 1,900 respondents across 13 Asia Pacific markets.
The report highlighted the cybersecurity challenges companies faced as they shifted most of their employees to a remote working arrangement in a short period of time.
Cisco’s findings also revealed many Asia Pacific firms were unprepared for the fast shift to a remote workforce, with 54 percent of firms only ‘somewhat’ prepared and 7 percent not prepared to support the transition.
APAC also happens to be the region with the largest proportion of organizations to experience increase cyber threats globally.
However, six percent of organizations did not even know if their cyber threats have increased or decreased, highlighting the challenges they faced due to their employees’ sudden shift to remote working.
The good news is that the trademark Filipino resilience is also applicable to businesses in how they are able to adapt to the influx of new threats and challenges this pandemic brought in terms of cybersecurity,” according to Ilagan.
“All they need are the right tools and partner to make sure their efforts are worth it,” she added.
“The challenges of 2020 shifted the goalposts around cybersecurity,” stressed Kerry Singleton, Managing Director, Cybersecurity, Asia Pacific, Japan and China, Cisco.
“As organizations transition to become cloud-first and remote-first, and employees expect to work from anywhere on any device, security needs to be the foundation behind the success of any digitalization effort,” he explained.
“This means having visibility of the users, devices, and the corporate applications and data they are accessing, ” according to Singleton.
Add to that “a flexible yet holistic cybersecurity posture to protect users and businesses from the network, to the endpoint, to the cloud.”
To support their needs for remote work, Philippine organizations adopted collaboration tools (74%), cybersecurity measures (66%), and cloud-based document sharing (59%).
This paints a picture that majority of the work being done by organizations are heavy on tasks that require employees to work in teams, be consultative, and work on the same projects remotely.
The bigger challenge lies in the need to protect information as users connect from their home Wi-Fi or use their personal devices to connect to corporate applications.
The one trend that emerged in recent months is that a hybrid workplace – where employees move between working remotely and in the office – is the future.
The findings of the Cisco study further underlined that.
Almost half (48%) of organizations in the Philippines said they expect more than half of their workforce to continue working remotely post-pandemic.
This compares to an average of just 29% of Philippine organizations with more than half of their workforce working remotely before the pandemic.
As businesses prepare for this hybrid workplace, cybersecurity now tops corporate priorities, with 93% of organizations in the Philippines saying that cybersecurity is extremely important or more important than before the pandemic.
Even better, they are translating this into concrete action.
The Cisco study shows that 69% of organizations in the Philippines plan to increase their future investment in cybersecurity due to COVID-19.
There are still challenges, though, that need to be addressed.
According to the study, 66% of Philippine organizations said that a lack of employee education and awareness was the biggest challenge faced in reinforcing cybersecurity protocols for remote working, followed by having too many tools/solutions to manage (48%).
“Cybersecurity has historically been overly complex. A key aspect of building a stronger foundation for cybersecurity is doing a better job educating and building employee awareness,” according to Kerry.
This will ensure that the future of remote work is smooth, seamless and secure.
In addition, a simple, integrated approach to cybersecurity will help businesses address some of the challenges highlighted in the report such as managing the jump in cyber threats or alerts and streamlining the management of cybersecurity tools and solutions to one platform, he noted.