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Hybrid work prompts spike in network security threats

Survey shows more than two-thirds of organisations have seen an increase in network security threats over the past 18 months, with remote and hybrid working the biggest contributor to heightened threat levels

More than two-thirds (69%) of UK organisations have seen an uptick in network security threats over the past 18 months, with nearly three-quarters regarding cyber security threats as the biggest networking challenge they currently face, and 85% regarding remote and hybrid working as the biggest contributor to heightened threat levels, according to research from managed service provider Daisy Corporate Services.

Daisy’s State of networking report 2024 surveyed 250 IT decision-makers working in UK organisations with more than 250 employees and responsibility for IT networks.

The study is said to have uncovered their views on the biggest network infrastructure challenges they’re facing today and how they’re managing them. Moreover, it highlights that growing network complexity is making it more difficult and costly for organisations to secure and manage their networks.

In all, almost two-thirds (64%) say their current network is made up from a patchwork of different supplier technologies, and 87% say this has created network management issues. As a consequence, and unsurprisingly, noted Daisy, 88% of organisations said simplifying their network infrastructure is now a priority.

Significantly, the survey found that increased pressure was being put on many networks due to the number of cloud applications being used in the workplace, according to 81% of those surveyed. In addition, over a third of organisations (37%) said ensuring cloud application performance was one of the main networking challenges they face. This is especially true in office environments where hotdesking and large meeting rooms are putting Wi-Fi networks under strain. 

Yet even what were seen as “simple” upgrades – such as moving to the newer Wi-Fi 6 standard – were revealed as being a challenge for many. Some 60% said the cost of upgrading devices was delaying their move to Wi-Fi 6. Only 21% of those surveyed currently had Wi-Fi 6 deployed across most of their organisation.

Despite being aware they need to simplify and update their network infrastructure, 30% of IT budgets were currently being spent on maintaining legacy network hardware. This, said Daisy, makes it harder for organisations to implement modernisation and improvement, resulting in a vicious circle where legacy systems need to be maintained, as there’s no alternative. 

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Legacy technology was also seen as a significant factor in whether organisations can meet their sustainability goals. In all, legacy network hardware accounted for a third of organisations’ overall IT power consumption. Yet just more than nine in 10 believed modernising their network infrastructure will contribute to them meeting ongoing sustainability targets. Being able to dispose of legacy equipment in an environmentally friendly way remained a challenge for 59% of organisations. 

“At a time when the network perimeter is becoming increasingly virtual and a growing number of business processes and applications are online, it has never been so important to be able to maintain and manage a secure boundary between your network and the outside world,” said Joel Cunningham, head of connect at Daisy Corporate Services. “Simply hoping your remote employees will enable a VPN outside the office doesn’t constitute a robust network security strategy.

“Legacy networking equipment remains a huge cost centre, preventing organisations from reaching their sustainability goals and causing significant overspend across maintenance and power consumption,” he said. “The traditional approaches to managing wide area networks often fall short in addressing these complex issues.

“However, software-defined wide area networking has emerged and evolved into a transformative solution,” added Cunningham. “This powerful technology not only solves the problem of optimising network performance but enhances security measures, giving organisations an edge in the ever-evolving threat landscape.”

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