Cybersecurity has always been a hot topic for CIOs responsible for securing their organisation’s digital perimeter and ensuring the privacy of corporate data and personal information. Every year, organisations spend significant amounts of time and money testing these defences. However, in 2020, COVID-19 has proven to be the ultimate vulnerability and penetration testing resource. Weakness that have remained hidden to date have been quickly exposed as organisations rapidly changed business processes, adopted digital services and stretched the boundaries of their organisation in a way that was almost unthinkable for most in 2020. COVID-19 has shaped new digital risk factors that have converged to create the perfect cybersecurity storm that many organisations have not been prepared for. Gartner identified the following COVID-19 factors that are impacting the digital risk environment:
Source: Gartner 2020
MOQdigital recently conducted interviews with several CIOs about their organisations’ COVID-19 responses and the challenges they faced. Many CIOs have had to rapidly upscale their digital business capabilities to enable employees to work from home, and to enable customers to continue to transact digitally as face to face contact became impossible. For many CIOs, what might have been a tightly secured, on premises business was rapidly stretched, rapidly digitalised with the boundaries becoming porous and mobile.
Talking to MOQdigital many CIO’s expressed the same issues and concerns as found in ISACA’s global COVID-19 Study
“With staff working from home, and personal devices in use our client’s data is now in someone’s lounge room”
“We have had to relax some technical control to facilitate productivity and functionality”
“We have definitely seen an uptick in phishing attacks with COVID-19”
The challenges are unlikely to abate soon, as organisations adopt new hybrid operating models based on “the new normal” which will stretch organisations in new directions and make new demands on cybersecurity controls and challenge governance and compliance obligations.
To meet the challenges of the post pandemic world organisations need to ensure that their cybersecurity strategies:
Increase Cybersecurity Visibility – Implement security monitoring capabilities to identify security incidents, trends, and changes in behaviour. Ensure incident management processes can react quickly and scale out to the distributed organisation.
Use Partners to Build Capability – Cybersecurity is a 24x7 activity, 365 days a year. For most organisation, building a robust cybersecurity capability requires trusted partners to provide managed security services including SOC, SIEM and SOAR.
Implement Multifactor Authentication - Multi-factor authentication is one of the most effective controls you can implement to prevent unauthorised access to computers, applications, and online services. Using multiple layers of authentication makes it much harder to access your systems.
Ensure Software and Operating Systems are UpToDate – Not only in your data centre, but remote working devices as well. If staff are using personal devices, consider how you can assist them to ensure devices are protected and auto update.
Use Virtual Private Networks – With staff being increasingly remote and mobile, VPN’s ensure secure network communications for staff.
Communicate and Educate – Ensure staff have access to plain language security policies and guides. Conduct regular updates, highlighting security issues such as Phishing and Social Engineering that may target work from users. Use video conferences and webinars to reach staff wherever they may be. Additionally, help staff to understand the important of physical security at home, and assist with resources such as Kensington locks to secure mobile devices.
Importantly remember that English may not be the first language of staff members so ensure you build your cybersecurity program to be accessible for everyone.