Findings in the Unisys Security Index underscore the need for MSSPs to shore up organizations’ digital protections.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

July 29, 2020

3 Min Read
Bored Computer User in Coffee Shop

Even as millions of people have shifted to remote work due to COVID-19, many are disregarding cybersecurity precautions. These remote employees are more concerned about health, the economy and health care infrastructure. This leaves a gaping hole for managed security service providers to fill for their clients.

All that data comes from the 14th iteration of the Unisys Security Index, published last month.

Here’s the main problem MSSPs have in front of them: Only 31% of Americans report unease about their data security while working from home during the pandemic, according to Unisys. That’s less than a third of the population.

At the same time, the Federal Trade Commission has tracked a significant increase in cyberattacks throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. The agency so far has fielded more than 52,000 reports of fraud related to the novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, the FBI says online crime has risen by 400% because of COVID-19, with up to 4,000 incidents per day.

Remote Employees’ Lax Attitudes

And yet, Unisys found the public’s overall consideration around internet security – including viruses and hacking – fell 13 points from 2019. This ranks as one of the lowest results in 10 years, the security service provider said. This puts organizations at even greater risk, and they’re likely to turn to MSSPs.


Unisys’ Mathew Newfield

“It is important for MSSPs to understand that consumer sentiment regarding security trends will directly translate to partnering and buying decisions,” Mathew Newfield, chief information security officer at Unisys, told Channel Futures.

That means MSSPs need to guide customers’ adoption of a stringent, air-tight work-from-home strategy. MSSPs also, ideally, will oversee all business end user traffic and activity from a security operation center, staffed around the clock.

“We are seeing a surge in partnership requests through channels to try to help organizations compensate for deficiencies they may be facing due to the business impact of the current pandemic,” Newfield said.

That makes sense. Enterprises, SMBs, nonprofits and other organizations have more motivation than ever to turn to MSSPs right now: Unisys discovered that end users – notably, remote employees – are more wrapped up in trying to stay safe, healthy and financially afloat than in staying aware of potential online scams.

To that point, U.S. respondents’ apprehension around personal safety, natural disasters and epidemics increased by 17% and 6% from 2019, respectively, Unisys said. Those figures reached 58% and 62%.

Not Speaking Up

But when it came to fears around internet scams, Americans aren’t speaking up. One in four (24%) surveyed said they are less likely to say something to employers about a potential data breach. That concern becomes even larger with so many remote employees.

“It’s not surprising to see people’s level of concern for their personal safety jump in light of the global health crisis,” Newfield said in a prepared statement. “However, the fact that it is not only matched by, but exceeded by, a drop in concerns around hacking, scamming or online fraud reflects a false sense of consumer security. Hackers target healthcare and essential services organizations looking to steal intellectual property and intelligence. … And hackers are relying on tricks like ‘password spraying,’ which involves an attacker repeatedly using common passwords on many accounts to gain access, putting our most critical infrastructures at risk potentially from the click of a single working-from-home employee.”

While none of this comes as a shock during this unprecedented historical event, organizations still have to prioritize cybersecurity. It’s clear, then, that someone – namely MSSPs – must remain vigilant on behalf of customers. Proven techniques for shoring up cybersecurity gaps include:

  • Providing consistent and clear training for end users

  • Conducting social engineering to increase employee awareness of scams

  • Installing zero-trust security architecture that includes encryption and microsegmentation.

Unisys polled people in 15 countries for its latest report. The Index is based on national surveys of representative samples of nearly 15,700 adults between 18 and 64 years old.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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