Cybersecurity in the Age of the Coronavirus: The Impact on Business Operations

Cybersecurity in the Age of the Coronavirus: The Impact on Business Operations

As the global workforce shifts to remote work, business operations and management face a number of obstacles. As mentioned in the previous article, the line between our work lives and our personal lives are blended now more than ever. Pre- pandemic predicted cybercrime will cost companies $6 trillion globally. According to research, last year, governments and government organizations were attacked most often, followed by industrial companies, healthcare, education, and finance. 

Business networks are now accessible from home, posing a risk to the security of business operations. We’ve seen changes in the way leadership makes decisions for business performance. During these unprecedented times, the movement to cybersecurity concentration is rapid, with little to no room for error. Cybersecurity is built in layers and it is impossible to protect a network forever. However, leadership must conform to a balance between risk mitigation and business efficiency.

In this day and age, business leaders are getting a daily lesson in large scale systematic failure during COVID- 19. They see and read how quickly COVID- 19 spread around the world and how it affects economic, social, political, and business systems. It is imperative to provide real- time capability and adaptability of the company’s cybersecurity defenses. The gap between cybersecurity risk and defensive effectiveness is as wide as it’s ever been for most companies, and experts warn that it could get even worse once the pandemic subsides. New cybersecurity risks will emerge and defense has to continue to be ahead of them.

Board members often ask “Are we spending enough on cybersecurity?” rather than “What do we need to protect, what is the value of what we need to protect, and how secure is it for what we’re spending?”. Digital success and failure start at the top, so they need to have a deep understanding of how cybersecurity complexities work. Some say the pandemic is actually helping companies by urging executives to focus on cybersecurity and their digital business system, calling for a structural reform for some companies. 

IT teams who once had physical access to employee machines now lack the time and accessibility to address commonplace issues. The absence of onsite diagnostic teams calls for automated threat reporting and diagnostic tools such as endpoint detection and response. Business Continuity Plans and Disaster Recovery Plans are important to the flow of business operations by ensuring that resources are available, to keep employees online, and to guarantee constant communication.

Additionally, the way employees access data is now heavily reliant on VPNs. As a result, VPN gateways are running at or near capacity. This means that corporate IT departments need to leverage all the tools at their disposal to keep loads manageable so that the VPN gateways aren’t overwhelmed and unable to provide the necessary access for remote workers. Because of this, just one DDoS attack can take down an entire company. Cybercriminals know that employees are more exposed and less cautious when working from home, so it is important that IT stays up to date with software patches and take appropriate actions to mitigate risks. 

Along with higher VPN precautions, companies have been increasing the use of advanced concepts of threat hunting, including detection and incident responses. It is not possible to keep the threat out of the perimeter forever, so it is important to seek out the target and actively address it without giving up a basic layer of protection. Organizations have also invested in educating employees on cyber threats and their impact. Organizations have reported higher victimization of phishing emails, prompting the adoption of more innovative approaches.

Security teams are now emphasizing employee security awareness and training. Doing this while providing a basic layer of protection can create a more effective prevention and defense strategy. Organizations that do not practice cyber hygine have reported higher phishing victimization.

The risks of entering networks through third- party vendors have also increased. There is more evidence of attempts to insert malicious code, exploit external suppliers and outsourced technologies, generating higher threats and more vulnerabilities. Organizations have shown a higher dependency on outsourced tools to maintain ongoing operations such as marketing and communication tools. This may result in the higher exposure of sensitive data, expanding the potentials for supply- chain attacks. There are also more consumer- oriented online services such as E- commerce websites that are open to public access. These websites are overloaded with requests, and many of the financial processes are now made as online procedures. Phishing through these E- commerce websites is aimed at victims as both individuals and professionals.

Experts urge companies to proceed with caution. Reducing reliance on office VPN and migrating to a cloud solution is a must. Also, lock down the supply chain, as they can be an entry point for hackers. Ask your suppliers what they do to maintain security. Scale up benefits of cloud migration to virtualize the workforce. CISOs must switch their focus to four main points, rather than sticking with the traditional viewpoints.

  1. Focus: Focus on supporting only those technology features and services that are critical to operations. Focus on employee safety on the frontline.
  2. Test: Test the company’s incident response plan, business continuity and disaster recovery plan, and vendor requirements right away. Eliminating risk is impossible, but you can reduce the risk associated with a poor response.
  3. Monitor: Monitor all resources, including collaboration tools and endpoints.
  4. Balance: Cybersecurity teams are likely to receive a flood of urgent requests for cybersecurity. Allow policy exceptions that will allow teams elsewhere in the organization to get work done.

Many organizations never really take cybersecurity projects seriously because they are lower priority, but the Coronavirus has pushed cybersecurity projects to the forefront. Management has acknowledged that things will not go back to the way they used to be. This transition period marks a point in time where there are distinct opportunities for a new and more aggressive type of cyberattack to damage or slow business rather than the traditional goal of attaining money from many parties.

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