Secretary General, Digital Business Ireland
Now is the opportune time for businesses to capitalise on pandemic lessons and reconfigure their cyber strategies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, without doubt, accelerated the digitisation of our economy in an unprecedented and unexpected way. In March of 2020, when many of us began to work remotely, very few could have foreseen the circumstances which have dominated the last 18 months. What began as a temporary measure, designed to safeguard public health, has since become the focus of much debate for employers and employees – both of whom have experienced the benefits, and indeed the drawbacks, of remote working.
Concern around remote working
While remote working has provided a degree of new-found flexibility for many of us, the possibility of such an arrangement becoming a permanent feature has undoubtedly become a source of concern for some employers – and understandably so.
With the advent of remote working and online activity over the course of the pandemic, many businesses are experiencing an increased level of cyber security threats and information technology breaches – with the Health Service Executive (HSE) cyber-attack in mid-May of this year, serving as a noted example. Coupled with the exponential growth of ecommerce, concerns around consumers’ data are at an all-time high.
In this new climate, many businesses may view the prospect of digital transformation as somewhat of an obstacle to overcome – a roadblock which must be cleared in order to progress the operations and output of the company. At Digital Business Ireland, we have somewhat of a different view on the issue of digital transformation.
Creating a company culture whereby individuals are actively encouraged to report potential cybersecurity pitfalls is also crucial.
Tackling cyber security threats
While cybersecurity breaches are an active, live threat for many companies, this advent of increased online activity means now is the opportune time for businesses to capitalise on pandemic lessons. Businesses must put in place secure, reliable cybersecurity measures, to ensure that they are adequately prepared to respond to threats.
There are a range of ways to do this – beginning with preliminary measures such as enabling two factor authentication, ensuring that software is always updated, to more fulsome measures, such as drafting a company-wide cybersecurity policy, to ensure alignment across all operations.
Greater awareness and education needed
Awareness is paramount, businesses need to be able to spot invoice and banking fraud and should always be on the lookout for phishing and tailgating, two common methods used by cyber criminals to obtain classified information. Creating a company culture whereby individuals are actively encouraged to report potential cybersecurity pitfalls is also crucial.
Through these and other measures, businesses can protect their employees working remotely. They can ensure that their customers’ data remains just that and is not subject to widespread distribution. If each of us collectively prioritises cybersecurity measures and seizes this opportunity to protect and secure our information, Ireland can absolutely leverage its full potential and become a European hub for digital transformation and innovation.