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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Securing the Digital Workplace Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing tragedy. Cases have grown exponentially, and the death toll continues to increase. In a reaction to the outbreak, governments world wide have placed tight restrictions on lifestyle; restrictions which have also transformed patterns of work. Suddenly, millions of workers have traded the office for a digital workplace

Remote work is nothing new. It has been around for many years, and recently up to one in five businesses have made it the norm.

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But now, that number is nearer to five in five. Many more companies now have to lean on a suite of cloud platforms so that their employees connected and productive. Microsoft was quick to produce premium options that come with its Teams collaboration platform free for six months to simply help companies cope. Slack has recorded a net increase of 7,000 clients since the beginning of February; 40% more than it typically has in a complete quarter.

As businesses transition wholesale to an electronic workspace, the question arises: How can they stay secure? How can they ensure that the third party cloud channels they now are based upon are safe and compliant?

Invisible Employee Interactions

In December of a year ago, the CEO of a luggage startup Away ended up resigning because she helped foster a toxic working environment on Slack. Lots of factors get into creating this kind of environment, and 99% of companies have the ability to use Slack just fine. However, brilliant though the platform is — it will come with some inbuilt challenges that need to be over come.

In a conventional office setting, managers enjoy automatic oversight of employee behavior.

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They can overhear inappropriate remarks, or detect signs of bullying, and swiftly refer incidents to HR. There certainly are a limited quantity of private, one-on-one or small group interactions, and so almost no goes undetected by the people whose job it really is to enforce company policies.

But within collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams? In effect, a company’s entire water cooler environment becomes digital, and less visible.

Instantly, HR and compliance teams are faced with a significant visibility issue. They can set company policies, nevertheless they have must confront challenges of speed and scale. Some enterprises can produce 40-70,000 Slack messages per day. If they can’t see what staff say to one another, it’s difficult to make certain compliance or perhaps a safe work place.

Invisible Customer Interactions

Now that lots of more businesses have moved wholesale to a digital workspace, it isn’t just internal interactions which can be the issue.

In an offices, there are easy ways to monitor and refine how employees are communicating with clients. People overhear or supervise customer calls. Lots of rendezvouses happen in person. Discussions take place at events like conferences or industry meet-ups.

But now? More than ever, companies’ interactions making use of their customers will soon be occurring within social media and messaging apps. For most industries, they are the only points of contact they will have left. 

Under the COVID-19 lockdown, there are no office appointments, no working lunches, no industry events, no shop floor. All that is left are digital cloud channels. Digital — is where all of the customer communication now lives. 

And once again: Companies have no visibility here. Many industries face stringent regulations regarding how they can talk to customers. Pharmaceutical companies need to monitor conversations for mentions of adverse events or off-label usage.

Financial services institutions need to watch out for promissory language and capture all complaints. Every industry has an unique examples. But if compliance teams can’t even correctly monitor the platforms that their employees are utilizing, how can they do their jobs?

Too Many Cyberattacks to Track

Malicious cybercriminals are rubbing their hands at the prospect of huge numbers of people trading essential and painful and sensitive information on the web.

As large droves of office employees go on to the digital workplace to carry on operations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, cybersecurity experts are understandably urging remote workers to strengthen their existing security measures.

In a recent public alert, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the cyber division of the US Department of Homeland Security, urged remote employees to secure “devices being used to remote into work environments with the latest software patches and security configurations.”

Software patches are essential; this is solid advice. But this isn’t enough, because staying secure is about much more than repelling hackers. 

Some of the worst cyber threats are phishing attacks, malware, and acts of account impersonation. With the velocity of on the web communications, these threat vectors become nigh impossible to track or react to using most companies’ existing tools.

80% of all data breach incidents reported in 2019 were related to phishing.

Here is a report according to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Phishing links can come in across any platform, from WhatsApp to LinkedIn direct messages. When enterprises’ security teams haven’t any way to proactively monitor possible threats, they’re flying blind.

Post-Perimeter, AI-Driven Solutions

The challenges of securing the digital workspace in the COVID-19 era all come down for this: we reside in a post-perimeter age.

Once, businesses established a perimeter, with firewalls and authentication systems, and every thing worked mostly fine.

But operations are now actually distributed across a fragmented digital ecosystem. When your enterprise security is reliant on external, unregulated channels, you have a problem. The intelligence you need to mitigate digital risk and stay secure and compliant, is not as accessible.

The scale and speed of internet communications ensures that ensuring securing beyond the perimeter is quite difficult. The task is beyond human intelligence.

Take “sampling,” for example. Too many digital signals are coming in all the time, and so security teams assess 10% of the over all pool and apply the results to the other 90%. Taking a sampling works, in a way. But it is definately not perfect.

Properly securing the digital workspace can only just be done by recruiting AI and machine learning.

AI driven platform protection
Only an AI-driven platform can constantly monitor every relevant digital endpoint.

Only an AI-driven platform can constantly monitor every relevant digital endpoint. Only an AI-driven platform can apply policies to every single message and post, via customizable policies. Modern digital risk protection demands the data aggregation, rapid data processing, and instantaneous execution powers of AI systems.

The Solution? Deploy a Dedicated Digital Risk Platform ASAP

COVID-19 is seeing many enterprises migrate their whole enterprise into cloud channels. But to secure the modern digital workspace, third party cloud channels can not remain black boxes.

Companies must have full insight into how their employees are utilizing every digital platform, to allow them to apply the relevant policies.

They must be able to scan, and automatically detect and remediate security and compliance issues. 

Until the COVID-19 pandemic ends and normalcy resumes, remote work is the new reality for many companies. It’s inside their best interest to secure their new digital workplace.

Otavio Freire

President, CTO, co-founder

As the President, CTO and Co-Founder of SafeGuard Cyber, Otavio Freire is responsible for the development and continuous innovation of SafeGuard Cyber’s enterprise platform. He has rich experience in social media applications, internet commerce and IT serving the pharmaceutical, financial services, high-tech, and government verticals. Mr. Freire has a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, where he currently serves as a visiting executive lecturer.

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