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April 2, 2020

Collaboration tools need greater security as home working increases

By GlobalData Thematic Research

As the coronavirus outbreak forces millions to work from home, companies are having to develop large-scale remote working capabilities, deploying virtual private networks (VPNs) and collaboration tools to all employees.

VPNs allow workers to establish secure connections to corporate intranets, applications, and databases. Security is maintained through the use of encryption, thereby helping to maintain data compliance as well as addressing broader cybersecurity concerns. In countries affected by quarantine, the use of VPNs is skyrocketing.

Collaboration tools have become widespread

Collaboration tools are offered by vendors like Microsoft (Teams), Cisco (Webex Teams), Google (Hangouts), Ring Central (Glip), Zoom, and Slack. They combine message-based communications with team and project management capabilities. As the crisis has intensified, these platforms have become ubiquitous. Microsoft reported that 44 million people used its Teams service on 18 March. This was 12 million more than the number of daily active users it had one week previously. Increased usage is putting a lot of strain on these services. As they become more central to daily life, collaboration tools have also become popular targets for abuse. There have been widespread reports of trolls taking over online meetings on video conferencing app Zoom and sharing pornographic images.

Home working may become permanent

There is a possibility that some workers will never return to the office and will become permanent home workers. Many enterprises will close locations, downsize regional headquarters, and implement bring your own device (BYOD) and remote working practices. A shift in attitudes and workplace culture will also encourage remote working, with companies more willing to allow employees the flexibility to work from home, when the need arises.

Also, while some critical workloads have already moved to the cloud, the pandemic is likely to accelerate migration. The current crisis has highlighted some of the benefits of moving data and applications to the cloud, and enterprises will likely be more receptive to larger cloud migration projects in the future. In the new normal, every application will need to be accessible from anywhere, on any device. For companies determining what needs to be moved to the cloud and what needs to stay on-premises is crucial and feeds into other aspects of business planning, such as hardware investment and staffing.

Collaboration tools need to be secure

Collaboration tools offer long term opportunities for businesses and workers alike, in terms of cost savings, work-life balance, and also reduced environmental impact. However, as COVID-19 is likely to have a long-term impact on working practices, security risks must be addressed now. In the past few weeks, the intensity of attacks has increased, as systems are often overloaded and under-monitored.

COVID-19 phishing scams (e.g., the setup of fake charities), ransomware attacks, and business e-mail compromises are on the rise. Therefore, integrated solutions that promote flexibility and safeguard security will be in the spotlight, accelerating convergence between security, networks, and cloud infrastructure.

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