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The Surge of Cybersecurity Demand During COVID-19 and Its Implications

WFH Covid Security

While much of the world’s industrial activity has been disrupted by the pandemic, the cybersecurity sector paints a different story. The industry is among a select few that have actually seen greater demand for their products and services, as economic activity shifts to a more remote — and thus technology-dependent — direction. Cybersecurity is the primary defense for this expanding global digital infrastructure against escalating cyber threats.

Cyber Attacks Ramping Up

The increase in data-driven work has spurred more daring and increasingly frequent cyber crime activities. Security provider Claroty recently released a report based on a survey of 1,100 security professionals across global industries. The study, entitled The Critical Convergence of IT and OT Security in a Global Crisis, revealed that 56% of enterprises have reported a greater number of cybersecurity threats since March. In Singapore, for instance, nearly three out of four professionals admitted that the pandemic has made their job more challenging as cyber crime has escalated with more sophisticated schemes.

These attacks largely target OT environments, with many companies experiencing hacking and credential theft, ransomware, and web application threats. Growing levels of online activity is further challenging the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of network traffic. More specifically, there has been a surge in DDoS attacks with ,Kaspersky reporting a 217% increase in the second quarter of this year compared to last year. This is considered unusual given that DDoS attacks typically boom at the beginning of the year and taper off during the spring and summer months. With most people unable to go on vacations and forced to stay at home, online activity continues to soar and DDoS attacks become more prevalent. According to BaishanCloud, effective anti-DDoS and WAF solutions have become increasingly strategic for companies and organizations serving users across the world and especially in Asia, which has been a top target and origin region for cyber-attacks.

The pandemic also came hot on the heels of emerging technologies like 5G, which is expected to fuel the growth of the Internet of Things and create heavier reliance on it. Already the real-world applications of IoT are diverse, from home automation to manufacturing. The deployment of 5G can strengthen this connectivity and create even more potential for IoT’s use across different industries. Because these connected devices, platforms, and services are expected to power the new normal, there are a lot more vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyber criminals.

How the Cybersecurity Industry is Faring

Despite the heightened demand for cybersecurity solutions, the industry is not immune to the global economic downturn. One of the solutions, so far, has been to reallocate funds for cybersecurity while putting other projects on hold. However, analysts claim that the overall reduced profits will put a major constraint on existing security budgets. Cybersecurity firms and professionals have been forced to act fast to combat the rising number of cyber-attacks and data breaches. One of the main priorities for organizations is maintaining continuity amidst a chaotic landscape. CISOs have been largely focused on threat detection and mitigation, as well as conducting remote system patches over VPNs, as many employees work at home where networks are far less secure. There’s also more focus on mitigating the consequences of an attack rather than combatting the attack itself. The Zurich North America and Advisen Cyber Survey presented in the Insurance Journal outlined that more risk managers are purchasing cyber insurance, from 34% in 2011 to 78% in 2020. It is now considered a must-have for organizations in order to minimize reputational risk caused by cyber-attacks.

On top of these measures, companies are vetting third parties with more caution, asking tough security questions and updating their digital policies through service-level agreements and contract clauses. Internet companies, for example, now demand more sophisticated security and compliance solutions while working with vendors to deliver digital content to end-users that are highly distributed due to the worldwide lockdowns.

Despite all the efforts, many organizations are yet prepared with adequate cybersecurity protocols. Even worse, the industry is getting bogged down by a talent shortage. An outlook from Maryville University’s online cybersecurity degree shows that the demand for skilled professionals doubled from 2013 to 2019, with 3 million positions left unfilled. The consequences of the previous year’s huge skills gap is now being felt as organizations worldwide struggle to combat cyber threats and minimize their consequences. As part of their cost-cutting solutions, organizations reshuffled cybersecurity-trained officers to fulfill IT-related tasks while teams transitioned to remote work. This, in turn, reduced the efficacy of defensive and offensive strategies employed by organizations, which also explains why cyber crime has been on the rise. One way this is being tackled is through universities offering online degrees in key areas such as cloud security, digital forensics, incident response, and malware analysis. While there is still a huge gap to fill, there’s more emphasis on educating, recruiting, and training personnel in cybersecurity, which will continue to put the industry in a competitive position.

The silver lining? Companies and organizations are stepping up protections of their internal networks, upgrading threat detection and mitigation technologies, amending security-related processes, and re-examining their overarching security strategies which bring benefits in an uncertain world in the long run. Cybersecurity vendors, on the other hand, are accelerating innovations that may take the industry a huge step forward which was not seen before.

exclusively written for intl.baishancloud.com By Nell Roberts

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