Cyber security concept on virtual screen with a consultant doing presentation in the background

Currently, many enterprises across the world are being forced to ask their employees to work from home due to the virus outbreak. What does it mean for IT security as a service? How will surveillance systems function successfully in case of emergencies? These are trying times for global agencies dealing with the protection of internal security. As workers are being expected to continue their duties remotely, what precautions will be necessary to undertake?

This blog opens up about challenges and possible guidelines required for security enforcement to safeguard, recognize threats, protect, and respond if there is any exposure to attacks in North America.

Going beyond call of duty

Security agency professionals are already working with communities and government groups to combat corona virus. They need to monitor and track people coming from places where the outbreak has created havoc. The same has been activated by collecting data of people who have a travel history. Some of them may be potential carriers of the virus and need to be monitored before they enter cities from airports. Security agencies are following strict regimes to ensure that business travelers are checked. These include:

  1. Collecting information on travelers even if it infringes their privacy. If required undergo a two-week incubation period if they have been on a business trip.
  2. Data collection is based on health parameters with medical history of travelers.
  3. All surveillance is processed and filed by public health authorities.
  4. Tracking spread of virus is done with tools and applications.

As most organizations expect people to work from home, IT security as a service is more than necessary. The virus has exposed several gaps in security which are usually contained in the business environment. The problem areas refer to:

  1. Employees who work from home without updated systems. They could be using desktops that do not have security patches. The protection levels on the systems are restricted and sensitive official information could be at risk. Without a doubt such systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks.
  2. While working from home sensitive data will be visible elsewhere through an unsecured network. Even if the employees save data, it will be on systems which are not adequately protected.
  3. Employees who are not trained cannot be entrusted with installation of VPN software. Without this crucial feature there are risks of data exposure.
  4. When employees work remotely they use online tools like ZOOM for meetings. Those who are used to face-to-face meetings will not be able to adjust quickly to this platform. Not all computers are secure enough when such apps are installed in emergency situations.
  5. With a pandemic distraction, validity of business emails is also compromised. If a senior sends an email communique, it is not easy to know if it is fake and genuine.

All these issues create chaos for the IT department as there are threats not only to the information architecture but infrastructure too. Keeping networks safe is a challenge during this time.

Limit collateral damage

This is a quaint time when cybercriminals are active as much as the corona virus. Phishing scams will not come as a surprise as more people work from home. Precautions taken in office go flying out of the window at home. Business emails are likely to get compromised and US authorities have already received complains last month from hosted services. Everyone needs to practice a greater degree of alertness working remotely to contain damage to sensitive files. An average employee will not be able to recognize or detect the ‘bad actor’ nor the ‘malicious script.’ Fake meeting requests can be avoided by communication via other means. Lure of pay rises or voicemails should also be monitored in this list. While using IT security as service, the set up of multiple authentication system is a must. Dedicated accounts continue to be the best way to remain secure. Employees should be trained in advance so that during emergencies like this will not pose a threat. They should have adequate training on device & password management, social engineering and be alert to cybercriminal activity. They could send phishing emails and expect exchange in Bitcoins.

Continue business as usual

Take help from a service provider who can assist remote workers with secure and scalable solutions. Emergency transformation is the need for many enterprises who wish to continue doing business amid the COVID-19 scare. Using cloud-based alternatives rather than legacy systems is important for an IT department to adapt on a large scale basis. The remote work may be temporary but systems will have to remain secure to let authorized people access files. Some applications can be enabled with a ‘zero threat policy’ customized for the organization. There is a greater need to support the business environment when almost everyone is being asked to work from home. With best practices and cloud computing, there is a possibility to mitigate challenges and work as usual.

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