Zero Trust Digest | April 2021, April 8, 2021, by Robin Gray

We’re now in Q2 2021 and companies like GoogleApple and Goldman Sachs are announcing their return to office policies and plans. What’s clear is that there is no one size fits all approach and people want flexibility in how they work, seeing businesses move closer to hybrid working models.

Zero Trust Digest looks to curate research from all over the web to make sense of how businesses are currently operating and how this is affecting their approach to digital transformation.

This month’s edition of Zero Trust Digest includes:

  • Gartner’s release of the Market Guide for Mobile Threat Defense (MTD)
  • Key stats from C-suite surveys conducted by KPMG, Gartner and IBM
  • Research studies on pandemic productivity and employee sentiment
  • How remote working is leading to BYOD creep
  • What’s the relationship between emoji usage and employee resignations?

Gartner’s Market Guide for Mobile Threat Defense for 2021 released

Gartner recently released the latest version of the Market Guide for Mobile Threat Defense (MTD), which has a significant update to MTD’s definition and splits the technology into distinct categories. Vendors have been broken down into three groups: all-round MTD, network-focused MTD and bundled MTD offerings with EPP, UES or UEM. Wandera is the only vendor to feature in both the all-round and network-focused MTD lists.

MTD is a category that continues to grow in terms of maturity and use cases, extending beyond preventing threats on iOS and Android devices. Emergent use cases for MTD include being a component for Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and extended detection and response (XDR) systems. The guide also highlights app vetting and mobile phishing as key drivers for MTD adoption.

You can read more about the MTD market guide in our write-up.

C-Suite Surveys by KPMG, Gartner and IBM

IT has played a critical role in keeping businesses operational during the course of the pandemic and there is a continued need for digital transformation initiatives as companies shift away from traditional working practices. According to KPMG’s 2021 CEO Pulse Survey, CEOs plan to spend more on digital technologies relative to last year with data security (52%), customer-centric technologies (50%) and digital communications (49%) being the primary focus.

Staffing growth will focus on automation, cloud platforms and support for remote work this year with 55% of CIOs planning to increase their total number of full-time employees (FTEs) in IT across the course of 2021 according to a Gartner CIO survey.

 But as we already know, there is, and continues to be, a cybersecurity talent shortage. An IBM survey found that 35% of CISOs and 19% of CEOs agree that their organization attracts and retains security talent.

Pandemic productivity and employee sentiment

Throughout March 2021, there were a number of research reports released on employee behavior, productivity and sentiment relating to the remote working situation.

O2 released their ‘Creating a Dynamic Workforce’ report which revealed how people now want to work and how this could impact productivity. It focuses on employee behaviors, needs and expectations and identifies the working patterns and behaviors that are reframing how businesses approach productivity.

Some of the key findings from the report include:

  • 42% of UK workers still don’t have access to all the necessary work systems needed to do their job, while around a third have yet to be provided with a laptop or desktop PC for work
  • Almost a third (31%) say they still don’t have a laptop or desktop computer provided by their organization
  • Despite the constant state of flux since March 2020, two-thirds (69%) of employees said their organization had supported them well
  • 32% of people never want to work in an office again. But then 28% would only work for a company that has an office
  • More than half (53%) say they prefer remote catch-up meetings. Yet, while 41% prefer remote project meetings via video calls, more than a quarter (27%) prefer these to take place face to face
  • 45% of people still don’t have access to video conferencing facilities
  • Only 57% have a reliable internet connection, which is crucial to working from home all day.
 On top of O2’s report, here are some other noteworthy trends identified by other studies:

  • A third of employers say working from home during the pandemic has boosted productivity, compared to just 28% in June last year – CIPD
  • 63% of participants in an employer survey said that they planned to introduce or expand the use of hybrid working to some degree – CIPD
  • 75% of remote workers reported feeling worse as a result of long-term working from home, with almost over one-third (39%) feeling more stressed – Egress
  • 47% feel more burned out now than at the beginning of the pandemic – Ketchum
  • 49% of remote workers now struggle more with work-life balance – Ketchum
  • 29% of employed Americans want to move to a four-day workweek – Ketchum
  • 49% said they’d be willing to go back to the office full time if it spared them from ever having to use video conferencing again – Ketchum
  • 82% of managers feel their workload has increased but 80% say they have been more productive. And a majority of managers also believe that employees’ workload (77%) and productivity (81%) have both increased – Infosys & the Milken Institute
  • 23% of respondents said they felt less engaged working from their home environment, while just 3% said they wanted to work away from the office all of the time – Steelcase
  • 37% of respondents said they browse the internet or peruse social media on the clock and 34% said they shop online during work hours. One-third said they binge-watch Netflix shows and about one-quarter (26%) “leave home for non-essential trips” such as “shopping nail/hair appointments” during work hours – Plugable
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents said their partner/spouse distracts them, and 64% said working with their significant other causes them to feel less productive and have difficulty focusing – Plugable
  • Over a third of Americans currently working remotely would quit on the spot if they were asked to come into the office, according to new research – Wisetail

BYO culture creep

It has been over a year since the pandemic started and companies are still figuring out the best way to approach personal device use. O2’s Creating a Dynamic Workforce report highlights that 42% of UK workers still don’t have access to all the necessary work systems needed to do their job, while around a third have yet to be provided with a laptop or desktop PC for work. Inevitably, employees have had to turn to their personal devices as well as resorting to shadow IT to get their work done.

In a Doherty Associates survey, 85% of employees said they had done work on personal devices and 57% said they had saved corporate data to these devices. Insecure devices can introduce security risks, particularly as a PC Matic survey highlights that only 9% of employees have security software installed on personal devices.

Whether IT teams want to or not, BYO is a challenge that needs to be confronted. There is demand from executives and employees to be able to work on any device, managed or not. It is one of the reasons why ZTNA is being adopted.

Can emoji use predict whether an employee will resign?

Researchers at the University of Michigan, University of Maryland and Peking University conducted a study exploring ways in which employers could predict the work-related behavior of remote workers.

In a pre-published paper, the researchers demonstrate how emoji use on GitHub correlates to a number of work-related behaviors such as level of activity, types of work they do, their communication styles, their time management skills and even the likelihood that they will drop out from GitHub.

One of the noteworthy findings was that developers who used emojis in their posts were significantly less likely to drop out from GitHub.

You can read more about the study here.

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