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Paradigm Shift in Cyber Security

Since January 2020, businesses worldwide are undergoing a paradigm shift. Every company, every  employer and every employee has started thinking about their security in the context of the pandemic  and then about how it impacts their business processes. This has resulted in a shift to online platforms –  connecting with their colleagues, partners, clients, and every concerned or relevant person worldwide. 

All types and kinds of data resources are being used in such conditions for storage and generation of data. These include Data centers, cloud storage systems, and devices that remote workers are using like Laptops, Desktops, Tablets, Smartphones which are owned by themselves to stay connected and access company  data to fulfil this huge dependency on IT. With employees continuing to generate business data from  multiple devices and unsecure networks, data protection and cybersecurity is very essential for businesses today. 

What does the post lockdown world look like? 

Online sales models and sales meetings take place over video conferencing, doctors are inspecting patients over video conferencing enabled apps, educational institutes are taking up classes over the online  platforms. Moreover, we have started shopping for essentials over eshops, digital payments have surged to  an all time high these days due to almost all payments being done online. Financial institutes are also now enabled with fintech, a huge increase in bandwidth usage, many new internet connections being  activated, an increase in data usage over mobile phones. And to add to that, a huge demand for work  from home gadgets like laptops and tablets has been seen in post lockdown scenario. Everything is being  transformed…… we are seeing a digitally transformed world. 

New situations require new precautions 

We have entered a highly vulnerable era of cyber-attacks due to this shift. A massive increase in  cybercrimes has been seen worldwide and all cyber agencies across the world have noticed and reported  this surge. This new method of working remotely has increased tremendous pressure on the IT  departments of large companies, corporates and government functionaries. Everybody has to be  synchronized and be able to access and generate data during while working individually as well as in  collaboration. Securing and protecting sensitive data is a major challenge in today’s very liquid scenario. Most of  these companies had to either shell out a handsome budget for IT equipment for the employees or they  had to enable a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. Access to enterprise applications without  enforcing proper security controls has increased phishing attacks. As a matter of fact, all the remote  working tools have been compromised to use the client machines as an entry point to the network of a  large enterprise for hacking or deploying malware. 

Everyone will have to be alert about this increase in cybercrimes because information security is the most  important aspect of any business operation in today’s world. An increase in spending on cybersecurity and  information security has been noted, but not according to the needs of today. There are huge gaps and  immediate mitigation actions are required. Although, in the coming months the spread of biological  viruses may reduce, but the spread of digital viruses will increase multifold.

I suggest that business leaders must improve on security protocols across their organizations to confront  the risks. If you are lacking on this front at all, there are a lot of new ways you can start introducing  Cybersecurity across your organization, regardless of the size of the organization. I am suggesting five  very important and immediate steps for all: 

  1. Educate your team: Every employee of the organization must undergo a security awareness  program, taught by an expert. Employees are the first line defenders and them being educated  about cybersecurity will hold the fort longer. Stimulated attacks followed by this training will help them learn more about experiencing cyber-attacks as well as abnormal activities. 
  2. Policy & Procedures: Every organization must have a Cybersecurity policy and its sub-policies as  per needs. The policy must be backed up in a supportive manner by the processes adopted by the  organization. A security audit by experts will help you in analysing gaps and vulnerabilities in your organization. 
  3. Practising good Cyber Hygiene: Deploying proper technology like Local or console-based Anti virus and keeping it updated, installing Firewalls or Unified threat management devices, Mobile  device management deployment, secure and upgraded network and wi-fi technology and  adopting more secure remote working tools are the need of the day. Ensure updated software in  the devices and systems used across the organization. 
  4. Cyber risk planning: Cyber risk management is a process of identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and addressing the organization’s cyber risks. Business leaders need to be fully aware of the risks in  their business. Conducting a cyber risk assessment will help you identify the vulnerability, analyze  the severity, and decide on how to respond to the risks. 
  5. Business Continuity Planning: Post COVID-19, many situations will arise when your business  processes may face risks, and, it may happen that your business process will come to a halt  followed by a digital viral attack. Do you have a business continuity plan? Does your business  continuity plan includes security? 

Be alert, be aware, be safe.

Kaushik Pandya, Ahmedabad, 25th May 2020
Author is a veteran in Information & Communication Technology, running his own ICT consultation firm since the last 32 years. He is also heading the Federation of All India IT Associations of India, popularly known as FAIITA. He is also a founder trustee of Techno Nationalism Foundation.

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