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HMRC Equips at Home Employees With £90million Worth of Devices; But do They Pose a Security Risk?

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) spent over £90million on remote working technologies in the last three financial years, official figures have revealed. As the governmental department equips its teams to work efficiently at home, what impact could a plethora of new devices have on cybersecurity concerns?

The data, obtained using Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation by think tank Parliament Street, revealed that HMRC spent a total of £90,566,908 purchasing 187,427 devices, including laptops, mobiles, tablet computers and desktops.

During the three-year period, HMRC purchased a total of 67,362 laptops outright and obtained 22,400 others under a lease-buy scheme. Overall, the total cost of laptops alone came to £64,919,643.

Supporting employees to work from home can have not only positive impacts on employees but also on economic growth. But with the number of devices being used to work dramatically increasing, concerns are also emerging regarding potential attacks.

Suid Adeyanju
Suid Adeyanju, CEO of RiverSafe

Suid Adeyanju, CEO of DevSecOps firm RiverSafe, discussed these concerns: “As one of the largest employers in the UK, it’s encouraging to see HMRC equipping staff members with critical remote working technologies.

“However, as an organisation tasked with managing the personal details of millions of individuals and businesses, it’s vital that all staff are trained in the latest cyber awareness programmes and have the right technology in place to protect data in the event of loss or theft of a device.

“Remote working will continue to play a crucial role in driving economic growth, but with it comes an increased risk of a data breach or ransomware attack, so upskilling and reskilling existing employees should be a top priority for all government departments”.

‘Every new device purchase is a potential access point for cybercriminals’

Covering methods to keep hackers and fraudsters at bay, Andy Ward, vice president of Absolute Software, commented: “Remote working plays a crucial role in allowing employees to operate efficiently, but the reality is that every new device purchase is a potential access point for cybercriminals.

Andy Ward, VP at Absolute Software
Andy Ward, VP at Absolute Software

“Organisations tasked with managing large volumes of highly confidential data should have systems in place to track, block and wipe all information in the event of loss or theft.

“Additionally, having the ability to securely access corporate data across all mobile devices whatever network you’re on is crucial to remaining productive whilst ensuring the highest standards of security continue to be met.

“Taking a zero trust approach to making sure the right information is being accessed, by the right people, at the right time across all devices whatever network they’re using will help keep hackers and insider threats at bay.”

Sridhar Iyengar, managing director of Europe at cloud software provider Zoho, also offered another perspective on the spending.

Sridhar Iyengar, Zoho
Sridhar Iyengar, managing director of Europe at Zoho

Iyengar explains that supplying employees with devices is just the first step in ensuring maximum efficiency: “Forward-thinking organisations will continue to invest in remote working technologies like laptops and tablets, but this is the initial step in empowering employees with the devices they need to thrive in the workplace. This must be coupled with a long-term strategy to grant workers access to the latest software, enabling seamless collaboration on projects and facilitating their professional development.

“Only by having a holistic approach to remote work and employee empowerment will organisations fully leverage the advantages offered by digital technologies and unlock their true potential.”

Author

  • Tom joined The Fintech Times in 2022 as part of the operations team; later joining the editorial team as a journalist.

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