As a security vendor, we can’t ignore that the COVID-19 crisis has underscored the importance of cybersecurity as employees go fully remote. Each day we see new headlines that illustrate the vulnerabilities of the “new normal” as much of the workforce moves to unmonitored personal systems, giving attackers a new vector to gain foothold. Whether it’s phishing scams targeting the White House, poor encryption by popular web conferencing systems, or a mass migration to VPNs, COVID-19 is giving malicious attackers more opportunities to compromise systems.
The world may go back to “normal” one day, but it won’t look the same – think airport security prior to 9/11 and now. Will distributed work become an essential part of corporate life? What companies will be best equipped to work in a fully distributed employee model? As we enter the brink of the quantum computing era, what impact will this paradigm shift have on the way we work? Should new considerations be given to the way we secure our systems and critical data?
We asked the Quantum Xchange workforce to weigh-in and share their thoughts, observations, and predictions on what corporate life might look like post COVID-19 and any immediate tips they have for fellow cybersecurity pros and organizations to help get through these unprecedented times. Here’s what they had to say.
“As we get better and more efficient at teleworking, I predict that the same phenomenon that has occurred in shrinking brick-and-mortar retail will also shrink the need for rented office space. With more people working from home and as 5G networks become commonplace – improving web conferencing quality and capabilities — new hardened security and encryption methods will be needed. Teleconference software licenses that used to be issued primarily to members of the Executive, Sales, and Marketing teams may now become standard issue for all users. The security of these solutions has been in the spotlight and as the importance of teleconferencing increases, so will the security requirements. Expect two-factor authentication, enforceable security settings (e.g. “Must use meeting password”), strong encryption, and auditing to be on the list of enterprise requirements.” — John Prisco, President & CEO
“Like after 9/11 when enterprises invested into spreading around their physical assets, this pandemic will cause organizations to invest and reassign their human assets. Gone are the days of the campus culture, where Silicon Valley heavyweights like Google, Apple and Facebook lured Generation X, Y, Z and Millennials with all-you-can-eat snacks and foosball, creating a work environment disguised as a perpetual college experience. Having a distributed workforce will require these companies to adjust their corporate culture, identifying new ways to calculate productivity, keep their current workforce motivated, and incentivize the tech talent of tomorrow.
Another technology titan, Amazon, will see immediate ramifications from COVID-19. The company will become a self-contained mini-government with its own testing facilities in warehouses administering Amazon-made tests and treatments using Amazon AI to trace hotspots and model outcomes.” — Gene Savchuk, CTO
“As the face-to-face work paradigm shifts, so too does the traditional sales and marketing model in enterprise sales, which is so heavily weighted to building personal connections via in-person meetings with prospects, working with technical teams to do physical proof-of-concepts, and building a sustainable relationship with customers through physical events such as the typical “business lunch” or user group meetings and trade show events. The obvious telework technologies will continue to be that bridge to the customers, but so too will be new opportunities to connect with a more personal touch–perhaps webinars and online events will need to have more interactive elements created to engage an audience in a more personal way, new business social media platforms emerge for more engagement, and on-site tech product POCs will need to morph to cloud-based interactive experiences as well.” — Stacey Fairbairn Sweeney, CMO
“The pace of cloud adoption will increase as more people work remotely. First, the ability to be ‘local to the data’ in some instances simply will no longer exist. Also, for the IT team, it can be more difficult to manage on-premise systems remotely than it is to manage cloud environments. These realities will drive increased cloud adoption and with that comes the need to firmly secure the connections to critical cloud infrastructure. If you’re building a secure network to address your new or emerging cloud computing needs, it makes sense to future proof it and make it quantum-safe now.” — Don Manley, VP Business Development and Strategic Partnerships
“Standard VPNs typically allow authenticated users to access the network as if they were on-site. But with so many more people working remotely, VPNs can give too much access, so an infected (or malicious) user could access systems that they should not. In that way, typical VPNs represent a risk to company data and systems. Software Defined Perimeter and network micro-segmentation products may see an uptick in demand, as organizations look to lock down access to only specific network areas based on the authenticated user’s role. Some remote connections, such as for system administrators, may require extra security to prevent theft of data or damage to systems. Dedicated remote administration networks could be part of the solution. Quantum-safe networking will likely see an increase in demand here, because if you’re going to build a new secure network now, why not make it quantum-safe as well?” — Eric Hay, Director of Field Engineering.
“History shows that economic hardships bring increased cyberattacks – cybercriminals are just that opportunistic. The broken economy, increased digitization, and sophisticated hackers means more data is more vulnerable than ever. I believe the post COVID-19 environment, combined with the quantum threat, will see organizations looking for new methods and technologies for securing communications channels and the data that flows between on-premise, remote, and cloud-based systems. I just read an industry survey by Evaluator Group that backs this up, citing security, data protection, and public cloud services as the top IT areas gaining attention and funding as a result of the pandemic.” — April Burghardt, VP of Corporate Communications.