Surge in vulnerable obsolete devices flood networks amid new cybersecurity risks of remote working

News by Andrew McCorkell

Businesses face new cybersecurity risks with almost half of assets obsolete or ageing compared with just three years ago.

Prolonged refresh cycles have gripped businesses as they hold on to assets while operations move to multi-cloud environments.

The trend has seen the proportion of European organisations working with ageing or obsolete assets rise to 45.6 percent from 12 percent in 2017.

The 2020 Global Network Insights Report from NTT Ltd found investment in the cloud is outpacing organisations’ on-premises infrastructure spend.

As businesses move applications to multi-cloud environments the patterns of refresh and upgrade patterns have slowed down, with a lack of investment in re-architecting on-premises network and security infrastructure, the report found.

The paper gleans insights from the data of technology assessments across more than 1,000 clients covering 800,000 network devices.

Rob Lopez, NTT Ltd’s executive vice president, Intelligent Infrastructure, said: “In this ‘new normal’ many businesses will need, if not be forced, to review their network and security architecture strategies, operating and support models to better manage operational risk.

“We expect to see strategy shift from a focus on business continuity to preparation for the future as lockdown begins to ease.

“Network infrastructure needs to be appropriately architected and managed to deal with unplanned surges, which will require a relook at cloud and on-premises infrastructure to reduce the impact and frequency of business-critical outages.”

The increase in obsolete and unpatched network devices that often come with software vulnerabilities has brought new risks and exposed organisations to information security threats.

Something of a perfect storm has been created amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with a surge in bandwidth consumption putting a strain on networks, exacerbating existing challenges.

With remote working, remote access and rocketing adoption of voice and video services, business networks and security infrastructure have been placed under unprecedented pressure.

Obsolete devices have, on average, twice as many vulnerabilities per device (42.2 percent) when compared with ageing (26.8) and current ones (19.4), according to the report.

This risk is made worse when businesses do not patch a device or check the operating system version over its lifetime - many businesses still don't patch their devices.

With the adoption of new wireless infrastructure increasing by 13 percent year-on-year globally, alongside a rise of open office and co-working spaces, a new approach to all network architecture will be needed, the report said.

Lopez added: “The network is the platform for business digital transformation. It needs to be ubiquitous, flexible, robust and secure to adapt easily to business change while increasing the maturity of the operational support environment.

“Businesses that use a high-level of network automation and intelligence to optimise operations will gain a significant competitive advantage and realise the benefits of the cloud economy, securely.”

NTT said that businesses will need the tools, knowledge and expertise to be able to re-architect the network for the short, mid and long-term evolution of the ‘new normal’ with people working remotely.

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