Dealing with Cyber Security Challenges in a Post-COVID World

By Vikas Bhonsle CEO Crayon India.

With Covid-19 hitting the headlines, it has forced most organizations to adopt to new practices and norms such as Social Distancing, Sanitization and Remote Working. While the world is combating this epidemic, we also have cyber criminals who are indeed capitalizing on this crisis.

The Coronavirus epidemic has created a fresh and unlikely cybersecurity challenge for most organizations around the world. Pre-COVID19, employees were accessing their corporate network through secured office laptops and devices. With the rise in employees working from home, enterprises have been forced to migrate to cloud services almost overnight. In this rapid rush, many security best practices have been overlooked. Cloud services like enterprise chat rooms, online office suites and drives are seeing widespread use nowadays for file sharing and communication. This creates novel problems since there are more unsecured devices being used by workers that are lacking the latest security updates and patches. Therefore, with work from home becoming the new normal, Cyber Security strategies need to get sharper, stronger and more relevant.

Let’s face it, we all know that security bugs and privacy hacking practices are not new. The traditional approach to security has been to look for outsiders who may try to break in and steal confidential data. That dynamic has now changed with the risks coming from within so to speak. Employees who lack training in security best practices may end up causing the leak of sensitive organizational data. Cybersecurity leaders must be willing to look at the bad actors or employees with malicious intent as well. This emerging threat is a serious factor to consider since a sudden influx of unsecured devices being used worldwide is a major risk. To successfully prepare for this changing landscape, we need a new paradigm of security thinking and to use tools designed for use in such scenarios. Organizations should be proactive in advising Employees and Business Partners to be more cautious and alert when interacting with external parties be it as simple as opening links, emails or documents related to the subject COVID-19. One can never know what they are stepping into. It is better to stay safe than to be sorry.

Organizations that will have to consider the new threat landscape are those who are dealing in large amounts of confidential or proprietary data. This sensitive information that was earlier kept secure will require new ways of safekeeping. Cybercriminals will be eager to take advantage of this new occurrence. We are sure to see sophisticated attacks that take advantage of this widespread change in working habits. We will be seeing new hacking tools and ransomware and phishing attacks being employed. Organizations should evaluate and explore new security defense tools and methods for areas where they foresee a huge risk.

All organizations have business continuity plans, but no one would have anticipated or baked in a plan on how to manage Covid-19. It will be a good thought to revisit the Organization’s BCP plan. A risk assessment should be conducted across all processes of the Organization.

Tackling Insider Threats

A rogue employee can cause severe damage by connecting compromised devices to the company network and stealing proprietary information. To thwart such attacks, organisations must use security tools equipped with advanced analytics that track user behavior. Cybersecurity providers must factor in the human element as well while conducting threat assessments.

The tool must be reliant on multiple data sources to eliminate false positives. A typical employee uses multiple channels including SharePoint, Slack, Salesforce, and others to access and interact with company data. A mature cybersecurity solution should be able to access and analyze their user behavior from all these data sources. An advanced solution should also be able to differentiate malicious intent from normal usage.

These tools require the ability to track and record evidence of unlawful actions performed on company data. To deter insider attacks, one also requires video evidence and detailed logs to indicate malicious intent beyond a doubt. Any solution that seeks to implement this must have strong control measures to ensure that legitimate users are not affected.

Organizations should also make it a process to sensitize their employees around information security and should make use of GDPR to ensure that confidential information remain secure in case of theft or damage.

Covid is here and is changing our lives. It has given rise to new lifestyles, new policies, approaches and new security threats. To protect intellectual property, organisations will have to transition from traditional security policies and doctrines to ones suited to a world where remote working will become increasingly common. A shift in thinking is required at a fundamental level to tackle these emerging threats. Be Smart and Stay Safe.

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