Cybercrime is perceived to be up due to remote working. Photo: Annie Spratt

Survey: 66% say risk of cyber-attack has risen

Remote working has enabled many businesses to keep trading during the pandemic but it has not been without issues.

A new survey has revealed that for most organisations, remote working has increased their exposure to financial crime and cyber-attack and over 40 per cent say data breach risks have increased due to working from home.

The nationwide survey from the Association of Compliance Officers in Ireland (ACOI), was released in advance of their annual conference today (Thursday).

The survey of over 280 organisations, answered by ACOI members with responsibility for compliance in large organisations looked at the risks posed by remote working to organisational data breaches, financial cyber-crime, and compliance issues.

Michael Kavanagh, CEO of the ACOI, commented: “While most organisations (54%) report that working from home does not pose any greater risk when it comes to data breaches and GDPR, 76% say this new way of working does actually present new challenges when it comes to compliance, and 66% say it has increased the risk of cyber financial crime and attack.

“Cybercriminals have adapted their methods to take advantage of the huge increase in remote working systems during the pandemic. The trends towards increasingly networked technologies and cloud computing have accelerated typical financial cybercrime activities such as fraudulent emails, phishing attempts, ransomware attacks, and attempts to steal financial account and payment card details and information.”

Financial cyber-crime

When it comes to cyber-crime, the ACOI survey results indicated that while the level of concern has dropped slightly from last year, a significant security threat to businesses remains as a consequence of remote working.

Mr Kavanagh commented: “That 66% of respondents agree that remote working has increased the risk of financial crime and cyberattack - with 14% feeling it has increased the risks considerably - attests to the threat that cyber-criminals pose in our rapidly changing operational environments. While this figure is down 15% on last year’s result of 81%, it still represents significant threat to the integrity and security of firms who employee staff on a remote working basis.”

Data breach and GDPR

The ACOI survey asked respondents whether they felt that working remotely carried greater risk of data breach or GDPR risk. The CEO of the ACOI commented that “overall, there was a positive response to this question, with 54% of respondents saying that working from home actually poses no greater data breach risk than working in the office. However, given that the remaining cohort (46%) say the risks are at least slightly higher shows a divergence of opinion and experience in this regard, with 39% arguing that the risks are a little higher than if everyone worked in the office.”


The survey also revealed that 28% of organisations experienced no new compliance issues, and just 5% experienced considerably higher risks as a result of having remotely based staff.

Mr Kavanagh concluded: “Overall, our survey shows that firms do need to remain vigilant and ensure they maintain ‘good housekeeping’ when it comes to their IT infrastructure, digital record keeping, cybersecurity, and their overall digital management strategy. While the onus is on firms to maintain excellent cyber-security and risk management systems, frequent communication and advice on guidance and best practice from regulators is also key to minimising the risks.”