In the same way that I feared that the COVID-19 outbreak would threaten to overload the healthcare system—while simultaneously decimating a global economy—I’ve also feared that it would leave a lasting impact on the cybersecurity of both businesses and individuals. After all, identity theft is not a joke, and more and more people—including many members of the population who are more apt to fall prey to the schemes of cyber thieves and frauds—are online every day, and for longer periods of time. As the vulnerable are spending their lives in almost total isolation—while the predators lie in wait—they former are unfortunately exposing themselves on social media platforms more decidedly than ever before. The effects of a stolen password, or of a leaked email or phone number, can be absolutely devastating.
All in the Family
The situation has reminded me most sharply of my kind and loving father-in-law, who has been scammed into parting with several thousand dollars more than once by expert predators. In an unprecedented era in which the best of us feel so compelled to help wherever we can, it is the kindest and most trusting among us that will suffer the cases of fraud. However, as “work-from-home-efforts” intensify, it’s not just those who are a little less computer-literate than others who will suffer. As the owner of my own small business that has been blessed enough to keep some associates employed while we all wait for the virus to subside, I’ve come to realize just how vulnerable my business—as it collects and compounds raw data—-and how susceptible that data is to a “cyber” attack, even though the keyboard strokes of the most loyal associates.
To Protect and Serve Our Servers
Although there are many responsible companies and reputable banks that are working hard on their end to ensure the safety and security of my information, I haven’t yet felt safe enough to completely rely on an outside ally to defend my sensitive data. In recent years, security specialists have reported a surge in the use of artificial intelligence: a technology that has helped businesses to improve their efficiency, quality, and speed. However, statistics show that—despite the artificial intelligence solutions—most cybersecurity will witness a massive drop in spending this year, with major enterprises planning to cut their investments on these security technologies.
Who am I Gonna Call?
Just like most of the small business owners who are reading this right now, I understand what it’s like: having to “scale back,” even on what seems like important segments of technology, only to ensure the survival of the company as a whole. The challenge for many organizations is finding the perfect “post-pandemic” balance between continuing to check off all of the “boxes” on a list of their security tasks that absolutely must be completed—but to do so with significantly less monetary resources available than ever before.
However, now more than ever, I realize that I have to rely on a select range of trusted security partners to protect my data; these companies’ niche skills or deep expertise will generally come from external sources from outside my own company, that will remain unaffected when my own company’s personnel headcount is thinned and strained by the ugly necessities of pandemic survival. Historically speaking, this is a common theme that’s been repeated across many different crises: a responsible company will have increased its cybersecurity via professional, outsourced means, during constricting periods in which increasing or maintaining an internal headcount is not at all financially feasible. For their part, the most reputable of security providers will understand that, within this particular time frame, their goal is to help a company maintain internal security during this period, and not to replace the company’s own sustainable teams over the long term.
Why Security Matters
Just as it’s of critical importance to keep an extra eye on those within your life who may be vulnerable to a personal cyber attack during these months of continual online engagement amidst nearly total isolation, business leaders must understand the sheer enormity of the job that their internal cybersecurity teams are facing, and the sheer onslaught of potential attacks. My company runs almost entirely via its digital capabilities. If these digital capabilities become unavailable, or if they’re somehow tainted, my business will cease to function. I need to entrust the safety of those capabilities with the most capable hands available in cybersecurity today. To fail to do so will simply be too costly in the long run.