A report by think tank Parliament Street has revealed how many businesses are trying to continue operations during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, but it has come at a price, costing firms both money and nerves, reports IT Pro Portal.

The report polled 200 senior business decision-makers on their company’s operational status during the pandemic. Most firms reported it was business as usual.

It did state, however, that companies have had to purchase new laptops, tablet computers, and mobile phones for employees now working from home, as well as hiring additional IT support sole for managing remote work.

Even with new hardware and manpower support, there have been some struggles. 31 per cent report that their video conferencing software crashed during crucial meetings and 27 per cent of bosses were unable to address their employees via video calls.

20 per cent of companies have had difficulties with accessing payroll software remotely, and 21 per cent claim to expect delays in salary payments.

However, the remote-working rush is creating a playground for spies and cybercrooks. Gaps in security and new ways of working will lead to data breaches and security problems over the coming weeks and months.

Most companies have a disaster recovery plan in place to deal with more predictable catastrophes, such as premises becoming unavailable due to flooding or fire, but far fewer are prepared for a crisis that has required social distancing and remote working for such a prolonged period.

Hence the rush to buy laptops and webcams and other equipment to kit out home offices – in many cases to get thousands of staff working from home in just a few days. As well as scrambling for hardware, firms of all sizes have had to find new ways of keeping teams connected by investing in new software and tools.

Security has not been forgotten in this rush. There are plenty of checklists of good security practice available, and plenty of advice on working from home securely. That includes knowing how to use a VPN (and how to make sure it’s up to date) and what to do when things go wrong.

The race to enable remote working across the workforce will undoubtedly create or exacerbate gaps in security. Employees using unfamiliar software will get settings wrong and leave themselves open to breaches. Staff forced to use their ageing laptops from home will find their data to be less secure than those using modern equipment.

This will become a major issue as lockdown continues because the security issues are not going away. Coronavirus-theme malware and phishing scams have been on the rise, as well as business email compromise scams – where cybercriminals impersonate a CEO to trick employees into sending money into their accounts – could be made easier as staff reply more on email to communicate.

All of these scams could prove costly to many businesses, and crooks have shown no restraint in pursuing their nefarious schemes during this crisis.

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