Last month, The Ortus Club and Cloudflare brought together a group of CTOs, CIOs and other IT and Cybersecurity decision-makers in Seattle for a virtual roundtable to discuss the topic of “IT Continuity and Digital Transformation Challenges during the Coronavirus Pandemic”.
The world is experiencing an unprecedented global crisis, the likes we have not seen for over a century. The Coronavirus has already dramatically disrupted our daily lives and changed the way we live, work, and play. IT leaders are faced with a whole new set of challenges and issues, some of which will need to be processed, solved, and adapted very quickly in order to ensure business continuity.
During this virtual roundtable, various aspects of the topic were covered such as the consequences of working from home on data, fraud, and security along with the expectations of a significant increase in cyber-attacks and phishing. We held a similar virtual discussion two days later in New York and was very insightful to hear the different views and opinions of IT leaders in the Seattle area.
Main questions that arose
- Are companies’ assets secure when so many employees are working from home?
- Which industries were most prepared for a change of this scale? And which were not?
- What is the future of cybersecurity? What will future company baselines look like?
- Are we entering a “new norm” for the way we work?
- What will “business as usual” mean after this crisis?
- How can companies overcome the overload of bandwidth?
- How difficult has it been to access information from outside company premises?
- How could companies have prepared better?
IT leaders agreed that it is more important than ever to share best practices and not the time to take shortcuts. Dealing with cyber-threats to maintain public trust is amongst most companies’ main objectives during this period.
All participants agreed that although most companies were already in the process of digitalizing their services and increasing their work-from-home operations, their continuity plans and recovery plans were not prepared for a crisis of this scale.
An opportunity for Security Operations – Leaders consider this opportunity as a time for security teams to rise and lead main operations. These types of crises are actually what security teams work for. There has been a large increase in cyber-attacks on people’s home computers and there is a need for rapid solutions.
Network traffic – Many companies’ applications were not designed to be used over a VPN environment. IT leaders are having to spend a great amount of time building virtual machines to allow employees to access these apps from home.
Increasing Cybersecurity – There is so much to be done! Preventing fraud when customer service is done from home, for example, which is currently happening, could have catastrophic consequences as companies cannot monitor what employees are doing with customer data as easily. People who are normally not required to take computers and other equipment home are lacking in training and IT education.
Changes of regulations – Companies that already had many employees working remotely had already done the homework to keep the regulators happy. Nevertheless, many current government regulations are rapidly being updated. The healthcare sector, for example, has already started to adapt. In many areas, doctors are no longer fined for consulting their patients online.
Short-term impacts – Some call centers have had to completely relocate in order to comply with social distancing rules. In the technological sector, companies had to improve and develop the way employees stay connected which changed the office-home balance of the workforce and the way leaders deal with risk management.
The need for a cultural change – Employees have been so used to operating from offices and physical stores that, more than a technological change (which companies seem fairly prepared for) it is a cultural change that is needed. It is important to implement new practices and change working habits.
There is a need to focus on people processing and technology. Different contingency planning for employees working in different positions and locations is needed as well as a guide map of how to deal with similar crises. Furthermore, companies need to stay up to date on existing technologies that can help their industry evolve in a virtual environment.
The time is now to focus on bigger cybersecurity solutions and move forward in AI. Leaders must keep contributing to the community as they are all in this together and must find the best practices to overcome this organizational crisis.
The Ortus Club was very happy to see such high levels of interaction and engagement maintained during this online roundtable. We hope that everyone found the event useful and productive for future operations.