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Blog Post Jun 30, 2020

Banking Study: Impact of Remote Work on Sector Security, Compliance, and Productivity

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has presented businesses in a wide range of fields with major hurdles to overcome, IT professionals in the banking industry have faced a particular set of challenges. Web and device security are important in any industry, but when it comes to banking, we cannot overstate the importance of setting up secure work-from-home environments for employees accessing sensitive corporate and customer data every day.

To help gauge the impact of the pandemic on the banking industry, Sectigo commissioned the 2020 Work-from-Home IT Banking Impact Study from independent research firm Wakefield Research, which surveyed 100 IT professionals working at U.S. banking or credit unions with at least 1,000 employees.

Here are Sectigo’s top takeaways for banking:

  • 63% of banking IT professionals report that their company needed to make changes to enable employees to work from home. This is not surprising, as the rapid shift to widespread remote work required updates to technology, processes, and procedures. To enable this massive overhaul,
    • 75% stated that they delayed revenue-generating initiatives for a week or longer to focus on setting up remote work capabilities.
    • 56% (vs. 44% of IT professionals overall) delayed cybersecurity initiatives for onemonth or longer in favor of setting up remote work.
  • Despite the initial lift, over 70% actually reported increased employee productivity as a result of remote work, while just 3% reported a decrease. (This banking-specific finding is far-larger than the cross-industry/overall survey finding of 49%.)
  • 72% of banking respondents believe the number of remote workers will increase, relative to their pre-COVID level. With the infrastructure now in place to support remote work, and increased employee productivity, there is a demonstrated ROI for keeping employees remote.
  • When managing the digital identities of users, devices, and processes, 64% of banking IT professionals reported that their biggest challenge was managing access across BYOD devices.
  • Despite certain cybersecurity initiatives being delayed during the transition, 87% in banking say that their data security has increased as a result of remote work during the pandemic.
  • 95% of banking respondents also reported that their companies were likely to take steps to improve security and business continuity—such as increase use of cloud-based applications and storage, use biometrics for authentication, or secure email with S/MIME—within the next year.
  • Only 50% of banking respondents say they employ user identity certificates, with even fewer (30%) using biometrics, while authentication technologies with widely known vulnerabilities, such as traditional username/password and hardware-token multi-factor authentication, remain in the mix.
  • Despite this mixed use of modern and weaker authentication methods, 99% of banking respondents feel somewhat, very, or completely confident that their company can report on its full compliancewith industry and government standards on digital identity during remote work.

Most IT professionals in the banking industry appear confident in their ability to address cybersecurity challenges as they arise. Still, it is clear that there is room for improvement, particularly with regard to authentication methods.

As remote work continues to necessitate the use of personal and other BYOD devices, the need for reliable identity services will only become more pressing. Thankfully, using PKI-based identity verification, an employee’s identity certificate can be stored directly in the computer, laptop, or smartphone, enabling strong authentication without requiring the employee to go through additional steps. By simplifying connection for remote employees, user identity certificates offer a major advantage over phone- or token-based multi-factor authentication, improving the user experience, removing barriers to employee productivity, and reducing help desk tickets.

Top findings for the survey overall, including responses from 500 IT pros across industries in 6 countries, can be found here.

Survey Methodology

The Sectigo Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( between May 15th and May 26th, 2020, among 100 U.S. IT professionals working in banking or credit unions with at least 1,000 employees. The margin of error for the results is +/- 9.8 percentage points.