The State of the Internet in a Pandemic
Millions of Americans are suddenly working from home. Students are now learning online. We’re all surviving the quarantine by binge watching our favorite shows on Netflix and Zooming with our friends and family. How does this bode for the Internet, and security in general? Let’s discuss some recent findings.
A Look at the Numbers
Before the pandemic hit, it was believed that roughly 5.2 percent of Americans worked out of their home. That’s about 8 million people, and that number is fairly recent, from 2017. By the end of 2019, we can estimate it was maybe between 5.5 percent to 6 percent.
We can simplify this and say one out of every 20 American workers worked from home before the pandemic.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only a mere 29% of Americans can actually work from home. That takes into consideration jobs that simply require a person to be at the workplace, like many in the food industry, delivery, construction and many more.
At the time of writing this, I have yet to find solid statistics for the number of Americans working from home right now, but there is a general consensus that it’s somewhere around one in five to one in three.
That falls right in line with what the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows, and we’re talking about the whole of the United States - things are going to feel different in different states and different areas.
How is the Internet Holding Up?
Back on topic, up to a third of all workers are now doing their jobs from home, plus kids of all ages are taking classes and doing their homework online, on top of the normal traffic that we see everyday. I’m talking about Netflix and other streaming services, online video games, YouTube and social media; all of these services are seeing a huge swing in traffic as more people are stuck at home.
Netflix’s usage, which is normally about 15% of all global Internet traffic, has hit all-time highs, and ISPs are seeing record-breaking amounts of Internet traffic all in all. Thankfully, many ISPs and mobile carriers have loosened or temporarily lifted data caps that would have otherwise caused massive expenses for users trying to work from home (Interestingly, these data caps were supposedly in place to ensure the service functions well. It turns out that in general, the service can still work as intended without them. Let’s hope service providers don’t revert back to the old ways after all this is over).
All that said, it’s not perfect for everyone. Rural users with limited access to broadband are still struggling, and in larger, more populated areas where the infrastructure might be a little older have been bumping into frustrating downtime. Still, all in all, a large part of our workforce is able to get things done effectively while maintaining quarantine, and that’s huge.
Cybersecurity is More Important Than Ever
Here’s the thing; being able to stay in business and keep your customers happy and your employees safe during this trying time is a big deal. That said, you can’t do all of that without also understanding the additional risks you might be opening up to. This isn’t meant to sound like doom and gloom - I want businesses to survive and strive. I want to hear success stories. I want business owners coming out of this with a new perspective on how they operate their business, trust their employees, and bolster their bottom line.
This could be a renaissance for the modern office, shifting the paradigm to normalize a remote workforce. Suddenly, you have fewer expenses, happier employees, and everyone can wear comfy pants more often. Or, maybe we’ll all decide we miss working together in the office so much and never look back. Either way, I digress...
Your business might not be able to see how this all turns out if you don’t secure all those new endpoints. Everyone who is working from home on a personal device just opened up a new weakness in your IT’s armor, especially if you aren’t providing the proper means of accessing company data and applications.
Ensuring that your users are able to work securely is going to be critical, because the last thing you need to deal with is additional downtime or data breaches.
Securus can help review your needs and provide the right solutions to ensure your remote workforce can effectively do their jobs without risking your data. If you need help or advice, give us a call at (503) 218-3883 to get started.