Navigating risk into a post-COVID new normal

Having rushed to keep the remote lights on in the early stages of lockdown, organisations must now change their focus to mitigating a plethora of risks emerging out of the pandemic chaos. By Paul Grapendaal, Head of Managed Services, Nclose

Johannesburg, 28 Jul 2020
Read time 3min 20sec

With little time to prepare for it, many local organisations entered lockdown hurriedly trying to enable employees who left their offices carrying desktops and servers. In the early stages of lockdown, organisations were primarily focused on ‘putting out fires’ and keeping business running. Security concerns were eclipsed by the need to simply activate home offices. But unfortunately, there are a lot of people looking to capitalise on this level of chaos, and they will typically be more organised than those battling to adapt to the new normal. Taking advantage of the cyber security risk gap, threats could increase dramatically, putting defensive capabilities under pressure to stay ahead.

There are myriad risks facing organisations that are particularly vulnerable right now – phishing, whaling, fraud and data loss. In the rush to set up remote workforces, organisations may have lost track of who has what devices and data, and what they are able to access on the corporate network. Around the world, business leaders were served a rude wake-up call on the precariousness of ecosystems, and the need for solid digital and cyber security environments to keep business running.

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Weeks into lockdown, organisations started changing tack to review the security measures and architectures underpinning the remote workforce. Without the luxury of on-premises pilots and ample time, they will have to move quickly to gain full visibility of their environments and mitigate risk across a dispersed network.

Now more than ever before, it has become crucial to introduce a zero trust approach, to secure and encrypt, and to know what data you have, where it is, and who is able to access it. It is vital to ‘over-communicate’ with employees, alerting them to risks and reminding them that you may not be able to protect them as effectively as you can in the office.

As the possibility emerges that remote work could be the new normal for some time to come, many South African organisations are likely to be forced to cut costs, which may drive them to consolidate best-of-breed solutions or compromise on the quality of solutions to achieve savings. They may be forced to lay off highly skilled staff and reduce their physical office environments. These moves may leave them even more vulnerable to cyber criminals.

The move to cloud-based or hybrid solutions will accelerate as these solutions give business the ability and agility to scale rapidly if required. These cloud-based solutions give a degree of control and visibility that legacy technologies are not able to. However, one can only manage what one can see, so in order to better understand their risks and enable them to pivot based on changing trends, businesses will rely on the visibility that SIEM/SOC/MDR services can provide.

To mitigate risk as they move into the post-COVID environment, business will have to draw on its recently improved relationship with security and collaborate even more closely than before. Organisations will have to identify its most business-critical resources, evaluate how to protect them, and determine whether they are adequately protected for the amount they are spending. For many, mitigating risk in the new normal will involve changing methodologies and investing in new technologies.

In these uncertain times, organisations should find security partners they can trust, who will take the time to understand their business, assess their entire risk profile and work with them to mitigate the most significant risks. Partners such as Nclose are now taking on the responsibility of helping clients identify and mitigate their risks, assisting them in optimising the technologies they have in-house to get more value from their solutions.