With the past two years resulting in a permanently altered working environment across the world, changes in security were both necessary and notable. Controlling access to applications, data, and systems is an increasingly important aspect of securing any environment and protecting it against both internal and external threats.
After two years of the pandemic, confidence in addressing certain security risks and threats arising from hybrid and remote work has improved among businesses and organizations around the world and in India. When it comes to secure access to applications, data, and systems, 84% IT professionals worldwide this year said they have some degree of confidence in their current user access security systems to enable remote work securely and easily, compared to 56% in 2021. In addition, 60% said this year they were highly confident compared to just 22% last year.
These are among some of the key findings from the 2022 Thales Access Management Index, a global survey of 2,600 IT decision makers, conducted by 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Firms Gaining Confidence Addressing Security of Remote Work
Overall, the report findings suggest that firms remain concerned about the security risks of remote work, but those concerns seem to be less severe. At the same time, firms are also growing more confident in the ability of authentication and access management systems to manage those risks. Only 31% of IT professional surveyed globally reported having “very high” concerns about the security risks and threats of remote work in 2022, down from 39% in 2021, while those who said they were “somewhat concerned” – the most popular response – increased from 43% to 48% in 2022.
Multi-Factor Authentication on the Rise, India stands ahead
While multi-factor authentication (MFA) usage remains most prevalent for remote workers (68%) and privileged users (52%) globally, the report shows that MFA adoption is on the rise for internal and non-IT staff with MFA adoption increasing to 40% compared to 34% in 2021.
Contrary to the gradual growth in widespread MFA adoption by businesses at global level with just over half (56%) of the organizations adopting MFA in 2022, India, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) all saw notable increases in MFA adoption in 2022. Notably, India obtained both the highest percentage increase of MFA adoption and highest overall percentage of MFA usage, up 19 percentage points to 66% this year. India is followed by Singapore with a 17-percentage-point increase in adoption to 64%, and UAE with a 10-percentage-point increase, to 65%.
Lingering Effects of Pandemic Drive Interest in Access Management, MFA and ZTNA
The survey inquired about direct impacts that the pandemic and remote work had on deployment plans for new access security technologies. Responses revealed a six-percentage-point global increase in plans to deploy stand-alone MFA, up from 31% in 2021. The pandemic also impacted plans to deploy cloud-based access management, selected by 45% of respondents worldwide compared to 41% in 2021. These two increases illustrate respondents’ growing awareness that threats come from all angles, and that proper authentication and management of access and privileges is necessary for an adequate security foundation. Last year, Zero Trust Network Access/Software-Defined Perimeter (ZTNA)/(SDP) was the top choice, selected by 44% of respondents globally. In 2022, ZTNA was the second choice at 42%.
Garrett Bekker, Principal Analyst at 451 Research comments: “Just as the threat landscape has evolved, the tools and methods to handle that landscape have, too. However, even with innovative tools and boosted confidence levels, security plans and approaches still need to adapt to the ever-changing threat environment. A greater shift towards a Zero Trust model would certainly place access management in a central role in corporate security strategies, with a related reliance on MFA as a critical supporting enabler.”
Ashish Saraf, Vice President and Country Director, India at Thales comments: “The past few years have been paradigm changing with new priorities and strategies to protect access to data, applications, and systems. New threats, risks, and vulnerabilities as well as evolving business requirements underscore the need for robust Access Management, Multi Factor Authentication, and a drive towards Zero Trust Network Access. The strong growth in adoption of Multi Factor Authentication in India points towards rising awareness and a commitment towards ensuring high levels of security in enterprise environments” Raksha Anirveda