Managing Cybersecurity Risks During COVID-19

Tyrone Jeffress, Loic Duros
Publication Date
29 April 2020

Managing Cybersecurity Risks During COVID-19

It’s an understatement to say that the world has changed. More than a third of the planet's population is under some form of lockdown. Work from home is now the norm for many. Children are being homeschooled in virtual classrooms. Tech, IT, and security leaders have never worked harder to keep infrastructures strong for everyone relying on technology resources to keep business and life as close to normal as possible.

Businesses adapt to the present reality  

COVID-19 has created a new environment. Companies are moving to new models, exploring innovative approaches, and integrating new features to keep their business running. For example, while restaurants are considered essential and permitted to remain open, many of them must have a curbside, delivery, or pickup method available to keep customers and employees safe. (See how Mobiquity is helping companies with its Quickstart Curbside Workshop and Contactless Kit.) 

Consumers are relying on technology more than ever before – in fact, there is so much reliance on them that reports are showing that giants like Amazon, Instacart, and Walmart are experiencing delays in some areas as shoppers stock up like never before. These shifts in consumer behavior present an opportunity for businesses to leverage new tools and technologies to reach their customers. While a mobile-first approach to customer and employee engagement is a giant step in the right direction for many, it's critical for organizations to engage security early in the design process. The last thing companies need in the midst of a global pandemic is a data breach that puts their customers at risk – especially when trying to engage customers and help to establish a sense of normalcy in the middle of uncertainty. 

Attackers are taking advantage 

While most people are searching for new ways to work, learn, and maintain life, attackers have been unrelenting - taking advantage of “opportunities” that present themselves with employees and customers sheltering in place. As business operations have changed, hackers have adapted as well, as demonstrated by an increasing number of vulnerabilities identified within cloud, connectivity, collaboration solutions (such as VPN software and video conferencing tools.). 

In addition, phishing campaigns targeted toward end user devices are also increasing. Work from home may be a new concept to some workers, making them more susceptible to phishing attacks, putting increased pressure on security and IT leaders to be more vigilant than ever before. These are hard times, and attackers know it.

Adapt quickly, but keep security a priority 

It’s right for businesses to deploy new features and services such as curbside or a contactless approach at the gas station – in fact, I’m confident we’ll find that many of the innovations in response to COVID-19 will provide more value to businesses and customers than previous methods of operation and service. Product teams will need to move fast, but it's critical for security to be “Feature 0” for product teams. Security teams should have a finger on the pulse of your product strategy, but if that’s not already the case, it’s in your best interest to seek their input early to chart your plan on the right course. 

Product team integration, coordination and collaboration with security & privacy functions will continue to be the most significant driver of effective cybersecurity management during COVID-19, as it has been in prior times. As new products are conceived in this environment, communication with security teams (ideally early and often) provides your product the best chance to avoid operational, security, and privacy blunders that are common in times of uncertainty.   

Balance: the key to cybersecurity 

Product security imperatives in the COVID-19 era were the same imperatives as before. Product teams have always needed to prioritize security with agility, and the COVID-19 landscape reinforces the need for that balance more than ever.

Let our expertise complement yours

Leave your details below and we'll be in touch soon.