Industry leaders are taking measures to sanitize workspaces to combat COVID-19. But determined IT strategies are needed to protect against hacks and disruption.
The coronavirus epidemic has erupted into a multi-prong threat that puts lives and livelihoods at stake. Industry leaders are not only tasked with minimizing the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the workplace. They must now consider strategies to continue profit-driving endeavours, and safeguard against a plague of hacking schemes. Reliance on information and Information Technology (IT) has never been more pivotal than right now.
The Government of Canada has worked diligently to provide information to the media and the general public about the health risks associated with COVID-19. The contagion may be passed from physical contact, go airborne when people sneeze, or be transmitted by contact via workplace surfaces. Supervisors are advised to suspend the practice of device and keyboard sharing, as well as the standard handshake until the pathogen is eliminated. Although the Canadian government reported less than 100 cases through mid-March and one fatality, these are recommended precautionary practices businesses would be wise to consider.
Health organizations also point out that our valued elders and those with diabetes, heart, and lung ailments are at heightened risk. While industry leaders must work diligently to implement sanitization strategies, cybercriminals are quickly taking advantage of coronavirus fears.
As if to add insult to injury, cybercriminals are hard at work crafting underhanded schemes to breach systems by leveraging coronavirus fears. According to Check Point’s Global Threat Index, hackers are exploiting the pandemic to ransom data or steal it and sell it on the dark web.
“As the virus spreads across the globe, people are naturally searching online for the latest information and updates on how it might affect them, and what they can do to protect themselves and their families. And as you might expect, cyber-criminals are quick to take advantage of these concerns for their gain,” the Check Point report states. “As we recently reported, hackers around the globe have found the Coronavirus serving them well as an enabler for their activities and are still riding the wave of the epidemic.”
Decision-makers are reaching out to third-party cybersecurity specialists to educate employees about phishing schemes and malicious websites that make claims about coronavirus tests and other promises. It’s also essential to note that employees receiving direct emails from the Canadian government or health organizations should be wary they are laden with malware. Professionals in the IT sector are also working diligently with industry leaders to implement pandemic defence strategies to mitigate COVID-19 disruption.
Perhaps the greatest business threat the coronavirus presents is the total shutdown of a company. That is precisely what has occurred in China and Italian due to government intervention. It’s also been the case when companies discover one of their team members has been infected that have to close shop and scrub the entire facility.
“This is not a wait and see,” Gartner endpoint research consultant Rob Smith reportedly said. “Any organization could have a forced shutdown tomorrow. This is the 2020 nightmare.”
It’s not surprising that few outfits have developed a pandemic mitigation strategy. And those that outlined theirs are most likely outdated. But the rise of the coronavirus demonstrates the importance of preparedness.
In today’s technological environment, companies are attempting to shift additional tasks to the Cloud quickly. The conventional wisdom is that Bring Your Own Device, and work-from-home options will avoid in-house infections. While that strategy should prove sufficient, not every business is ready to have a full staff accessing data virtually.
“Imagine you’re a company and have 100 people who work from home. Everybody these days has superfast bandwidth (from home), so they have 100 Mbps. That’s 10 gigabits if everyone was using full bandwidth,” Smith reportedly said. “So, it’s real easy to use the entire corporation’s bandwidth just by a handful of people accessing the VPN.”
But the good news is that many small and mid-sized organizations utilize things such as Microsoft Office 365, which may include Microsoft Teams. The Premium version can facilitate work collaborations. There are other options outfits can use in a pinch as well.
But the critical point is that COVID-19 demonstrates that industries may have no control over disruption. However, IT strategies can integrate emergency protocols that shift all necessary operations to the Cloud to weather the storm remotely. That’s why it’s crucial to expand managed IT policies to include emergency plans. One is already on your doorstep.