Adaptive Segmentationmicro-segmentation January 28, 2021

What Will Your Workforce Bring Back to the Office? Ransomware Risks in 2021

Katey Wood,

Nothing has been “business as usual” since COVID-19. As it is said, the only constant has been change. The world underwent a sweeping shift to remote work for much of 2020. In 2021, workplaces are likely to use a flexible hybrid model, as travel resumes and businesses face a return to socially distanced on-site operations, with employees rotating into the office a few days a week.

But as we transition back to the office, how do we know what’s been happening to endpoints on employees’ private networks while they’ve worked from home? And what is our workforce bringing back to the campus network with them? How can your organization protect against these uncertain threats, and how do you rank against others who are preparing for the “new normal?”

To find out, Illumio surveyed IT professionals at 344 mid- to large-sized corporations to examine their remote endpoint security postures – from the amount of visibility and control IT can exert on remote endpoints of employees working from home networks to how organizations are addressing rapid ransomware attacks that can quickly spread through the enterprise, on or off the campus network.

We found that despite rising ransomware threats, many businesses are still flying blind to the environment that their endpoints are running in:

  • IT no longer has access to home networks in the way it had access to work networks before the transition to remote work. The VPN is considered the primary security and visibility tool for remote employees, despite its limited visibility into home network traffic.

Visibility Graph

What’s more, while all businesses are concerned about ransomware, they may be ill-equipped to prevent or contain it:

  • Most rely on endpoint detection and response tools alone to contain the spread of ransomware. This leaves businesses vulnerable to new or modified threats that remain undetected for hours or days and then move laterally to other endpoints and data centers.


  • Investment in traditional campus network controls could lag: despite prioritizing cybersecurity, IT will likely spend less in 2021 on firewalls, Wi-Fi technology, and Network Access Control – potentially making businesses more vulnerable to an evolving threat landscape.

Pink slips

  • Pre-emptive Zero Trust controls, which prevent attackers or ransomware from moving laterally, are still gaining traction but are not being used widely enough to stop the spread of inevitable attacks.

Stop ransomware

  • Credential dumping, a prominent attacker technique, is not a priority for many enterprises, for better or worse. The risks of a ransomware “snow day” – or two – are real. Most organizations struck with ransomware admit that it would take more than two days to recover to full operations, losing at least a full business day of productivity.

Time to recover

How does your organization rank in preparedness for a return to the office? And what can you do to protect your business from the spread of ransomware, whether on or off the campus network? Download a copy of the report for our findings and insights: Security Risks 2021: Ransomware and the Return to the Office.

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