The COVID-19 global pandemic has already changed the way business is done. Face-to-face interactions are rare. Instead, now most meetings are conducted online or via the telephone. Consumers are purchasing more online than in brick-and-mortar stores and remote employees are now the “new norm”.
This alone has led to changes in cybersecurity. However, companies should expect more changes. Even with the gradual slow down of the COVID-19 virus, there will still be changes to cybersecurity.
In this guide, you’ll learn the top 5 ways COVID-19 will change cybersecurity. You’ll also find cybersecurity tips for businesses that will help prevent issues with industry standards.
Cybersecurity Tips for Businesses
COVID-19 might have temporarily closed everything but “essential” businesses but it did nothing to slow down cyberattacks. There has been a rise in cyberattacks during the global pandemic that focus on everything from healthcare and financial systems to those in the supply chain. This means that businesses must continue to maintain their cybersecurity protocols.
Some cybersecurity tips for small businesses and large corporations are,
Create a Culture Promoting Cybersecurity
Employees often depend on the company to manage cybersecurity. However, remote workers are becoming more common and often use personal devices to access the company network. This can be a security risk.
Practicing good cybersecurity is critically important for employees working remotely. Working away from the security protocols implemented at the office will make them vulnerable to cyberattacks. Education and training programs that focus on phishing and other types of cyberattack campaigns will give remote employees the tools they need to protect their personal devices.
Strengthen All Network Components
With many companies transitioning to remote work in a short time, several vulnerabilities have been identified in their networks. Many of these weak points are due to an increase in personal devices with access to the company’s network. There are a few steps businesses can take to keep their networks secure.
- Ensure employees are accessing company networks via VPN technologies.
- Remote viewing programs such as TeamViewer should be used instead of a remote desktop connection.
- Track and monitor all remote connections. This includes employees, contractors, and third-party vendors.
- Routinely audit email accounts, especially those in cloud platforms.
Conduct Cybersecurity Assessments
This step has always been important and is key to cybersecurity maintenance. In regular circumstances, a deep assessment of the entire network is only done once every two years but things have changed.
It’s not necessary to do a complete assessment of the network but companies do want to regularly check,
- For any phishing campaigns
- For vulnerabilities
- Penetration testing
Even though this isn’t an in-depth scan, regularly checking and looking for these items will limit vulnerabilities in the network and the potential for a breach.
Have Continuous Monitoring
Before COVID-19, regular monitoring was encouraged and necessary. Now, it’s paramount. Cyberattacks have increased in recent months and many are due to the increase in remote employees.
Every aspect of the network must be monitored so you can immediately respond to any perceived threat. Some of the components that need to be constantly monitored included,
- Email systems
- The company network
- All software applications
- Endpoints that use security information event management (SIEM) software.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) aspects
- Data visualization tools
Update the Response Plan
Most companies already have a response plan in place. If so, it will need to be updated. COVID-19 has altered how cyberattacks are launched. This means the response plan has to change to meet the new threats.
The response plan should include all employees with access to non-public personal information (NPPI). A chain of alert should be established so everyone is clear on who and how the incident should be reported to. The response plan should also include the protocols on identifying, removing, and recovering from the cyberattack.
How COVID-19 Will Change Cybersecurity
Even though these cybersecurity tips for small businesses and larger ones will help prevent breaches companies should still expect changes.
As businesses reopen, it won’t be back to normal. Many of the strategies implemented during the “shut-down” will still be in place. Other practices will also be developed to handle the cybersecurity threats from the quickly expanding remote workforce.
The top five changes in cybersecurity companies should expect to see due to COVID-19 are:
- Growth in Creativity
The economic impact of the coronavirus is being felt everywhere, including company cybersecurity budgets. The loss of revenue due to the shut-down has businesses tightening the budgets and this means cuts to IT teams, even though cyberattacks are increasing.
With a recession looming, IT budgets are not likely to increase. This will leave IT teams having to come up with new ideas to prevent cyberattacks. Some creative ideas are to automate more systems and security processes. Human oversight will still be needed but this would reduce some of the workloads.
Upstream service provides for cybersecurity might also be a cost-effective option, along with collaborations between personnel.
- Compliance Inactivity Will Change
The closure of most businesses for a few months, including regulatory councils, is changing. If compliance was allowed to lag due to a sudden remote workforce, businesses need to meet standards.
While notices of fines may have been delayed, the appropriate regulatory councils are going through the backload of infractions and complaints. Some leniency may be granted for minor incidents that were quickly corrected. There is an understanding by compliance regulators that COVID-19 changed how many companies are conducting business. They also realize that many companies were not prepared for a remote workforce.
However, if these incidents are not documented and fixed there will not be leniency on any non-compliance issues. Businesses also do not run to run the risk of being found to be out of compliance just when they’re reopening.
- Cybersecurity Teams Will Face an Increase in Work
IT teams should expect the scope of their jobs to widen. Presently, cybersecurity professionals are just staying current with the latest threats. Soon, they will be expected to have updated security protocols encompassing the network, remote employees, and personal devices.
Companies must schedule monitoring, maintenance, and upgrades to not overwhelm their IT staff.
IT personnel will need to ensure that all data that was accessed remotely by employees is secure. This will require new cybersecurity protocols, along with additional monitoring. Adding to IT teams’ workload is the upcoming PCI DSS 4.0 audit at the end of 2020. This audit applies to any company that handles cardholder data.
- New Employment Opportunities for Cybersecurity Analysts
Cybersecurity analysts are not easy to find. A lack of a set career path, academic courses, and accreditation are factors contributing to a shortage of experienced cybersecurity specialists. A study by the European cybersecurity governing council stated that 65 percent of companies had an employee shortage in IT. While a third of the companies survey reported worries about finding a qualified IT professional.
COVID-19 is changing the career path for many young professionals. Unemployment is up to almost record numbers and many professionals are reevaluating their skill sets. Remote employees are also learning new skills when it comes to cybersecurity, and these are “bright sides” for companies that are reopening in a new business environment.
Companies will discover that their cybersecurity team is comprised of members from different departments. Each will have a unique insight into the threats they encounter and the strategies they used to repel them. With personnel furthering their education and others with learned experience, cybersecurity will not only be the responsibility of the IT department. Others will be involved in helping to create cybersecurity protocols.
- In-Person Audits Will Be Less Frequent
Companies will see fewer auditors in person for annual compliance visits. This does not mean that businesses no longer have to worry about fines and penalties for being out of compliance, only that the process will change.
There will be some assessments that must be done on-site but any that can be simulated will be. The goal is to reduce auditors’ exposure while still ensuring that adequate cybersecurity protocols are being met.
Businesses should expect on-site visits, when they occur, to be more intensive. Auditors will be expected to accomplish in a few days what used to take months. Companies will also have to adjust for this since it will mean a partial, if not complete, temporary shutdown of systems.
What These Changes Mean to Businesses
COVID-19 changed every aspect of the world, including how businesses operate and maintain cybersecurity. To keep operating many companies were forced to quickly change to remote employees and this created a potential cybersecurity nightmare.
During the pandemic, cybersecurity was often lax for remote workers. Their personal devices were not equipped with the same protections as company-owned. Now that businesses are reopening, they need to see what these future changes in cybersecurity mean to them.
Employee Job Scope will Change
Previously, only the IT team monitored systems, applications, and networks. This has changed with remote employees. They will also be responsible for data security. Companies should expect input on security procedures from all departments. This is beneficial since there will be more “eyes” on the network and the recently added devices and applications.
Greater Emphasis on Cybersecurity
Even though auditors will not be coming in person as often as previously, there will still be an emphasis on cybersecurity. The recent increase in cyberattacks during the pandemic shows that security around NPPI is critical.
When auditors are there in person, companies should be prepared for a disruption in business.
Fines and penalties are also more likely to be enforced once businesses have had time to implement cybersecurity protocols for their new workforce.
Businesses are going to have to change to stay operational and meet compliance regulations. Remote employees will be more common and this means changes to cybersecurity protocols. These are the same ones that might have been overlooked during the last couple of months.
Even though compliance audits will continue the process has also changed. Many audits will be done remotely, while the few in-person ones will be short, disruptive, and intensive. There’s also a lack of cybersecurity specialists, even though this is changing. Many remote workers are learning how to spot threats and others are taking classes to help further their careers.
There is no denying that COVID-19 left many businesses with plenty of questions about compliance and possible changes to cybersecurity. The experts at RSI Security are here to answer your questions.