Emile Abou Saleh, Regional Director, Middle East & Africa at Proofpoint, explains what he thinks the major changes will be for companies following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses across all sectors and has been one of the greatest disruptors of the modern age, changing the way we live and work. The GCC countries were quick to implement remote working to fight the spread of the outbreak, and this may well become the new norm for the region, as remote working and virtual collaboration are expected to increase in the post COVID-19 era.
While digital connectivity and agility ensure Business Continuity during the pandemic, they can also foster opportunities for cybercriminals looking to capitalise on this uncertain situation. To date, Proofpoint has recorded over 300 COVID-19-themed threat campaigns. As the pandemic has occurred over a number of weeks and remains an area of concern worldwide, the overall collective volume of lures only continues to increase.
Since cybercriminals are increasingly targeting people more than infrastructure, cybersecurity teams need to recognise the importance of a human centric approach by ensuring employees understand the new threats they face and how to deal with them. The most effective way is putting in place a robust cybersecurity strategy that encompasses security awareness training as an integral part of the transition to home working.
While some might say ‘old habits die hard’, it’s important to recognise that remote working might be a new reality that will persist for many businesses until further notice, and this means that people must be educated on important elements that need to be taken into consideration when working remotely, one of them being security. At the end of the day, remote working can often mean that you are not protected by the same safeguards your office has in place.
Therefore, transparency and clear communication will be two important elements to be part of the mindset-shift of companies following the pandemic. Organisations need to be active listeners and take into consideration their employees’ feedback and foster cross-functional interaction among everyone. This includes encouraging remote workers to connect with IT departments, ensure they are using a secure Wi-Fi connection, company VPN, strong passwords and that they understand security policies.
Unarguably, the pandemic situation will bring a change in the way organisations approach security awareness by including their employees in their cyberthreat mitigation plans. Only when users understand their role in cyberdefence, are they likely to take it seriously.
While some might call this period ‘unprecedented’, this is actually the ‘new normal’ and organisations need to embrace it to stay prepared.