How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Changed Cybersecurity Priorities

A recent report by the Enterprise Strategy Group shows just how much IT professionals must work to keep up with the shifting cybersecurity challenges brought on by COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed life and work as we know it. As businesses try to maintain operations under new and changing circumstances, it has become clear that the pandemic has done more than put people’s physical health and safety at risk — it has also threatened employees’ cyber safety. From the potential risks posed by remote work to the increase in cyber attacks due to opportunistic criminals, organizations have had to think much more critically about their cybersecurity posture during the past several months.

As the impact of the pandemic became clear in the early months of 2020, the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) and Information Systems Security Association International (ISSA) hoped to learn more about how cybersecurity professionals and their respective organizations were handling these challenges. The groups conducted in-depth surveys of 364 IT and cybersecurity professionals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and summarized their findings in a report titled, “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Cybersecurity.”

Overall, the data suggested that IT and cybersecurity teams have been able to build on their previous experiences with remote work to scale their existing technologies and operations in response to the pandemic. However, the unique circumstances have posed a variety of cybersecurity concerns that businesses will need to contend with in the months to come.

 

Today’s Shifting Cybersecurity Challenges

The sudden switch to either fully or largely remote workforces has created significant hurdles when it comes to cybersecurity. At the most basic level, 50% of the professionals surveyed by ESG said they either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “I am concerned that many employees who are new to working from home don’t have the right level of security knowledge/training.” Without that training, employees are more likely to put themselves — and their business networks — in vulnerable positions.

In addition to this baseline concern, the surveyed individuals highlighted three main challenges that they’ve seen develop and change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Securing WFH system configurations: 27% of the individuals surveyed said their top challenge in the face of the novel coronavirus was making sure all of their employees’ remote devices were secured.
  • Providing secure network access: Just behind WFH configurations, 26% of respondents said that giving remote employees secure access to the corporate network so that they could actually do their work was the top challenge.
  • Monitoring traffic: According to 24% of respondents, monitoring remote user behavior and traffic presents a significant challenge — especially given that they now need to adjust and scale their monitoring tools to get the visibility necessary to help ensure security.

Cyberattacks Take a Toll

On top of these shifting cybersecurity challenges, there has also been the added concern of an increased number of cyberattacks. Rather than seeing the pandemic as a chance to take some time off, resourceful cybercriminals are taking every chance they can to exploit new vulnerabilities. For example, World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a fivefold increase in the number of cyberattacks directed at its staff, in addition to a slew of scammers impersonating WHO to try to steal funds from the general public.

More generally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reports that cyber attacks have roughly quadrupled since the pandemic began. The ESG and ISSA survey shows that this increase in attacks is having a serious impact on cybersecurity, especially considering that most IT professionals are already playing catch-up trying to ensure a base level of security for their remote employees.

It’s no surprise that all of these increased challenges are taking a serious toll on IT and cybersecurity professionals. Not only has the ESG survey shown that the pandemic forced these professionals to change their activities and priorities when it comes to cybersecurity, it has also increased their workload, the number of meetings they need to attend, and their stress levels associated with their jobs. Given that it’s impossible to eliminate some of the stressors facing these professionals — particularly the increasing number and variety of cyberattacks — it’s up to businesses to make sure they are providing as much support as possible to their IT teams.

 

Staying Cyber Secure in the Face of New Challenges

In the face of all the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been a better time for businesses to look for ways to bolster their cybersecurity efforts. One of the best ways to do so is to look to a trusted security partner to help navigate the changing priorities and emerging threats associated with the pandemic. The team at Turn-key Technologies, Inc. (TTI) offers just that — our cybersecurity experts are here to support your IT team as your business confronts the changing threat landscape.

TTI’s experts can help you navigate the growing security risks that workers and businesses will have to deal with as the pandemic continues. If you’re interested in learning about how our team can help your business navigate the shifting cybersecurity priorities that are coming to define the current period, contact us to learn about how we can help your business stay cyber secure.

By Craig Badrick

August 28, 2020

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