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“You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” Warren Buffett’s warning to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders in 2008 of the imminent woes facing financial institutions could be just as well applied to the tremendous impact COVID-19 has had on today’s businesses.

Long before the coronavirus, digitisation had prompted several innovations related to technology, innovation and mobility. However, the global economic disruption of the last few years has accelerated these trends at a rate few could have imagined, with increases in remote working, hybrid work environments and cloud adoption, to name a few. Unfortunately, most businesses were unprepared for a sudden shift in the way we work and were left badly exposed to an unprecedented wave of cyber business security threats.

Unchartered territory means new business security threats

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased our dependence on digital tools and solutions. Companies have been forced to adjust, adapt, experience and overcome unforeseen obstacles to maintain their operations, all against the backdrop of a historic economic crisis.

To make matters worse, the World Economic Forum’s COVID-19 Risks Outlook identifies cyber-attacks and data fraud as the largest technological risks arising from the effects of COVID-19.

As many companies now manage hybrid workforces, with both remote and on-site workers, they risk leaving themselves exposed to severe business security threats if they don’t take proactive steps to reduce their risk.

These risks include:

1. Connection points

With employees working from anywhere, the number of potential points open to a cyber-attack has grown exponentially. Company data is now being accessed via networks over which organisations may have little control.

2. Collaboration

Teams still need to print, scan and share documents with one another on a daily basis, regardless of their location. Without a secure document management system, organisations are putting their data at risk. While cloud environments continue to be a popular and effective solution for hybrid workforces, business leaders must continually maintain the security of their cloud software so that all employees can work together efficiently and safely.

3. Third-party threats

Remote working is now normal. Many employees have even come to expect it in some capacity, and businesses are adapting to enable this in the long term. But whether it’s a shared apartment or a shared office, greater mobility also increases the risk of third-parties gaining access to confidential documents and information.

4. Control

Employees access information and print and share documents using many different devices and manufacturers. Maintaining control is increasingly difficult, especially where brand and device inconsistencies exist, yet it’s critical to reducing the cyber risks associated with a growing number of devices in the workforce. Businesses that opt for a standardised fleet of printers and multifunction devices (MFDs) across their company will achieve greater control over the security of their data and documents.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many IT managers and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) assumed that the systems they had in place to protect their networks would extend to other peripheral devices, according to IDC’s 2019-20 Vendor Assessment report. However, this wasn’t the case, with the IDC warning that security around network perimeters was “crumbling” and “every device connected to the network is now an endpoint security risk, printers and MFPs included”.

Businesses that don’t heed this warning will be left highly exposed to cyber-attacks. Companies must shift away from solely relying on IT departments for managing cybersecurity and towards developing core security competencies across their entire business. This entails the creation of a robust security framework underpinned by a proactive approach to minimising risks, such as in the case of adaptive security architecture.

The future and cyber resilience

Data breaches are always bad news for businesses. Print and document infrastructure breaches are no different from any other security lapse, resulting in downtime costs, fines associated with corporate governance and regulatory non-compliance, and reputational damage.

It’s fair to say that how we work and do business has changed permanently. Companies must become more mobile and adaptable without compromising security.

Security in the post-COVID digital age requires a united effort. Workers must be equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to work more flexibly and efficiently without putting business data at risk. This is the only way to build a culture of cyber resilience.

The interplay of print and document security is increasingly complex in the era of remote work. But Kyocera customers can count on our industry-leading expertise and proven ability to protect their business. Download our guide to learn more about our specialised document security solutions.