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IT Departments Face More Threats as Staff Work From Home

Organizations need MSSPs' help perhaps more than ever as COVID-19 forces continued remote work.

Kelly Teal

June 19, 2020

4 Min Read
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There’s yet another report out this week that highlights just how much COVID-19 continues to challenge organizations’ security efforts as employees work from home.

This time, Ivanti has found that IT departments face an onslaught of critical threats (underscoring, of course, the expertise managed security service providers can bring to the table to combat the problems). In a survey of 1,600 IT pros conducted between April and May, the IT software developer said two in three (66%) respondents experience the following circumstances:

  • Malicious emails (58%)

  • Risky, non-compliant staff behavior (45%)

  • Software-vulnerability increases (31%)

Ivanti did not note by how much each of these areas saw a rise in activity. However, given other, similar industry stats, it’s fair to say IT environments are juggling a surge in breach attempts with lax employee attention to some basic security matters, made worse by the work-from-home trend.

And that last part alone represents a key area that requires education and effort on the part of the organization; or, ideally, its MSSP. Even well-meaning staff can endanger the organization as much as bad actors can. To work from home encourages the use of consumer-grade devices, connectivity and potentially leaky applications (remember Zoombombing?). Plus, these employees might share laptops and smartphones with household members. They may, in turn, access risky sites that compromise the organization’s security.

No Time, Few Resources

Yet the experts overseeing IT responsibilities have even less time and fewer resources to address these issues and teach best practices than they did before the pandemic. Enterprises worldwide have laid off or furloughed staff. They’ve cut back on spending – even as they have rolled out platforms for remote work that create more gaps for hackers and inadvertent oversights. All of this adds up to opportunity for MSSPs to step in and help.

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Ivanti’s Gary Abad

“The IT department’s time and resources were stretched thin before COVID. And this survey confirms that their situation has only worsened,” Gary Abad, vice president of global channels for Ivanti, told Channel Futures.

Keeping in mind that Ivanti specializes in software that unifies the various processes and siloes within IT (think onboarding, and securing, tracking and managing mobile devices and services, ITSM, cloud, endpoints and so on), Abad added: “The time has never been better for MSSPs to provide IT organizations the ability to leverage a unified IT management solution and offload a great deal of that complexity and effort from their customers.”

Keep up with the latest developments in how the channel is supporting partners and customers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The sheer growth in remote operations speaks to that reality. Consider that nearly all respondents (93%) told Ivanti the number of remote workers has burgeoned over the past few months. That means IT is scrambling to understand what workloads are now in place (shadow IT is alive and well), where they reside and who pays for them. Close to half (43%) of IT professionals said a full three-quarters of their employees now work remotely. Just more than a third (35%) said all of their staff are working from home amid COVID-19. This has ramped up IT experts’ daily responsibilities.

To that point, the majority (63%) of respondents said their workloads have gone up 37% since COVID-19 mandates – whether governmental or organizational – went into effect. The top incidents and requests they are juggling are related to:

  • VPNs (74%)

  • Video conferencing (56%)

  • Bandwidth constraints (48%)

  • Password resets (47%)

  • Messaging problems (47%)

IT Departments Need Help

These issues, while important, also have diverted focus from security, in many cases. The IT department needs backup. Mareike Fondufe, a technology evangelist for Ivanti, characterized the situation as “firefighting mode” in an interview last month with Channel Futures’ sister publication, Channel Partners. One way to help organizations feel comfortable teaming up with a third party for extra help and security precautions? Do expense-management reviews to find and eliminate spending waste. That way, IT can lean on MSSPs to stay on top of the ever-changing threat landscape without worrying about money.

“Keeping organizations secure is getting more complex and growth in remote users will only add to that challenge,” Abad said.

Overall, he said, MSSPs that assume oversight of security, issue resolution and reporting will help customers. They will “find synergies that will better position them to achieve their highest priorities without added cost or effort.”

Read more about:

MSPsChannel Research

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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