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Working from Home: Remote Security or Securely Remote?

As governments start to ease lockdown measures, business leaders are adapting to how the world of work has changed. 

In a post-COVID landscape, remote working will be more accepted – even in the banking and financial services sector. Just recently, Barclays CEO Jes Stanley said expensive city offices may well become a thing of the past, and indeed, it’s highly unlikely that the tens of thousands of workers that once filled our capitals’ skyscrapers will all return.

Remote working has a vast array of benefits, from cutting costs to increasing productivity, however, the sensitive nature of the finance industry’s data poses a serious challenge.

The key to successful, more permanent remote working strategies is secure authentication. This must start with a passwordless approach. Innovative technologies such as biometrics can help keep data safe and secure, especially considering the escalation of cybercrime and unprecedented levels of online fraud. Funded attacks on passwords worldwide have risen 667 per cent since lockdown began, and a recent report found that 1 in 3 users have fallen victim to phishing scams. This is no surprise considering millions of employees share common passwords across personal and business accounts. Furthermore, passwords and PINs put pressure on already inundated IT helpdesks, which as well as costing $1.9 million a year in resets, severely impact productivity across the business.

Increasingly, businesses are realizing the benefits of taking a multi factor biometric approach to authentication to enable secure remote working, whilst delivering a streamlined user experience and enhancing productivity.

The pandemic has put pressure on businesses to adopt technology that they may be unfamiliar with, without subjecting it to the usual in-depth assessment. This has been essential in keeping businesses afloat, but these shortcuts places them at greater risk of fines and data breaches – likely to increase as we come out of the pandemic, and businesses adapt to the new environment.

As a result, this landscape is going to favour the agile. It’s going to lean towards the disruptors, who are bringing necessary change to sectors like financial services. Banks, for example, are already partnering with fintech firms, in order to provide more responsive loans that can support small businesses during the pandemic. Uniting with these nimble tech firms, who truly know what it means to take a well-established process and turn it into something innovative, will be the key for large financial firms to enable a remote workforce and achieve success post-COVID.

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Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 21 May, 2020, 12:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

When Barclays CEO said tens of thousands of bank staff won't return to skyscrapers as in the past, he didn't mean that they'd work from home. He said that they'd work from bank branch. Source: Finextra Article. I'm not sure if the security dynamics are too different between a bank's HQ and Branch. Long before the pandemic, many bank branches in India - and maybe UK, too - have been using fingerprint for allowing staff to access core banking and other banking systems.

Thing is, fingerprint-only authentication doesn't scale too well, considering the extra amount of data that needs to be transmitted and verified. Ditto for face ID and other biometrics authentication. Beyond a certain volume, it's customary for users to have to enter their userid or password in addition to fingerprint, in order to enjoy good enough response times. Biometrics authentication already supplements username / password but I have my own doubts if it will ever replace username / password, especially in a midsize or large bank.