Remote Working ‘Puts SMEs At Risk’

Blurring Of Work And Personal Life Could Be Heightening Cyber Security Concerns


Fergal Dowling, Partner | +44 (0)121 214 5476

The growing demand for remote working provisions could be putting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at risk.

According to a new study conducted by TalkTalk Business, the blurring of personal and work life is leading to escalating cyber security concerns.

Firms are under more pressure to allow staff to work from home and the increasing use of employees' personal smartphones and tablets for work purposes has resulted in sensitive corporate data being lost or stolen.

The research - which covered 1,000 small business employees - showed 70 per cent of people take work home in the evening or at weekends, with the average person completing an average of 1.7 hours of extra work each day.

In addition to this, 82 per cent said they now use work time to take care of personal matters, adding further weight to suggestions the traditional 9-5 working day is slowly being lost.

With hacking attacks becoming more sophisticated, bosses at TalkTalk Business believe SMEs and their employees are at a greater risk of falling victim to cyber crime.

The survey suggested less than half of the 1,000 respondents were confident of spotting a scam or hacking threat.

Charles Bligh, managing director of TalkTalk Business, explained how attitudes and behaviours have altered and what this means for small company owners.

"For many people, work no longer ends at the office door, it continues on the train home or after picking up the kids from school," he commented.

"Security solutions need to evolve to reflect that change of behaviour. Malicious content is getting more advanced and harder to spot - we only need to look at recent malware targeting the NHS or Yahoo! for proof of that."

A new study undertaken by Vanson Bourne on behalf of BT showed UK businesses are lagging behind their US counterparts when it comes to cyber security readiness.

Just 17 per cent of British companies view this as a priority, compared with 41 per cent of firms in the US.

Expert Opinion
Flexible working is very much part of the business world in the 21st century, but it is important that small businesses put the right policies in place and encourage their workers to be responsible when accessing and carrying potentially sensitive client or corporate data.

"Data protection is a fundamental part of business and clear regulation exists in relation to the issue. The potential fines for failing to meeting responsibilities in this regard can be high and would potentially prove very costly for a small or medium-sized business.

"We would urge SMEs to seek professional advice from a legal specialist regarding both introducing and implementing employment policies, as well as understanding their obligations when it comes to the protection of important data."
Fergal Dowling, Partner