Firms looking to save money by shifting to more flexible ways of working will need to think carefully about IT security and the additional cost of breaches linked to staff working from home.
That's according to the latest annual "Cost of a Data Breach Report" conducted by Ponemon Institute along with IBM Security, which found that the average total cost of a remote-working data breach was more than $1m higher than cyberattacks where remote working wasn't a factor.
The report – based on what it calls "real-world data breaches" from more than 500 organisations across the globe – found that the average cost of a cyber incident is now a record-topping $4.24m.
But when analysts looked at organisations where remote working was involved, they found that the average total cost of a data breach was above average – just shy of $5m.
Ever since the pandemic took a lead role in 2020, the issue of flexible working has preoccupied staff and employers alike, and trying to figure out when it's safe to return has prompted many discussions.
Earlier this week, Apple delayed the reopening of its offices to October, allowing staff to work from home for an extra month as coronavirus cases increase across the US.
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Similarly, Facebook, like other Silicon Valley megacorps, is looking to the autumn to get its workers back in the office, in the hope that business can return to some kind of normality.
But things are changing all the time and the will-they-won't-they shift to some kind of flexible working remains up for discussion.
For those still mulling over their future direction, the study found - as you might expect - that businesses need to think carefully about IT security.
One assessment is that the rush to get people working remotely was not matched by an increase in off-site security. This was highlighted as one reason why the cost of remote-working breaches has proved to be costlier.
"Businesses were forced to quickly adapt their technology approaches last year, with many companies encouraging or requiring employees to work from home, and 60 per cent of organizations moving further into cloud-based activities during the pandemic," said the report.
Elsewhere, the study found that stolen user credentials were the most common cause of breaches with lapses in personal data security playing a part in four in ten.
You can download the full report here, registration required.