Remote working and cyber attacks are ‘biggest data protection threats’

Remote working and the threat of cyber attacks are the number one data protection concern for 65% of Irish companies in 2021. This is according to a new survey from the Association of Compliance Officers Ireland (ACOI), which sought to understand the current data protection risks facing companies – 85% of whom have more than 75% of their workforce currently working from home. The survey of more than 250 organisations – answered by ACOI members with responsibility for compliance in financial organisations throughout the country – revealed that the mobile workforce arrangements, necessitated by the pandemic since last year, have left employers feeling increasingly vulnerable to data protection breaches.

Speaking of the findings, Michael Kavanagh (CEO of ACOI) said: “It’s abundantly apparent from this survey that remote working is a major issue facing firms this year when it comes to data protection, with 34% of businesses voicing their concerns around the risks associated with it.

“Given how intertwined the two things are, it is perhaps unsurprising that risk of cyber attack was cited by 31% of respondents as their biggest concern. Indeed, the two are not mutually exclusive, with remote working increasing organisations’ vulnerability to attacks.

“85% of our respondents have more than 75% of their workforce out of the office at the moment, and while the survey suggests that the remote working landscape will certainly not look the same in twelve months, it is clear that the intricacies of having a national mobile workforce is something that all organisations will have to consider, both now and into the future, as flexibility around where people carry out their various roles becomes a key feature of modern-day business”.