Products That Matter
What’s Keeping CIOs Up at Night
by Christopher S. Garner
August 21, 2020
COVID-19 has influenced major changes in the way individuals think, act, live, and work, and the world’s leading business decision-makers are no exception. Several corporate technology executives were recently asked what their greatest business concerns were during the coronavirus pandemic. We garnered three takeaways from their responses.
- Cybercrime is increasing, and so must employee awareness.
- Remote workforces are more vulnerable, especially with dated tech.
- COVID-themed scams are here.
“We have seen an increase in attacks targeting our online services, consumers, customers, and employees.” – Vi-orio Cretella, CIO, Proctor & Gamble Co.
Three of the eight executives explicitly noted seeing increases in cybercrime, and surely this corresponds with the overall increase in online activity resulting from social distancing requirements. For a healthcare industry scrambling to implement telemedicine and mobilize large remote workforces, credential thieves, phishing scammers, and malware attacks are perhaps the most concerning of cybercriminals and cybercrime. The first step in protecting organizations and their patrons from these malicious actors is increasing employee awareness.
Employee awareness is one counterbalance to the increase in cybercrime activity, but it is a counterbalance that requires continual attention as scammers and cons find new ways to divorce individuals from their money, credentials, and sensitive data. It may be that employees have not been properly trained in how to use common telemedicine and telecommuting software correctly. Or, it may be that they are simply uninformed about the increase in fraudulent online activity. Continuingly educating employees on the latest cyber schemes and ensuring they know how to use the tools at their disposal will help to defang wolfish online scammers.
“Enabling a remote workforce securely is top of mind for every CIO right now…” – Rick Stark, CIO, CrowdStrike Holdings Inc.
Many organizations have found themselves racing not only to enable a remote workforce, but also simultaneously to compensate for greater risks of scammers infiltrating at-home digital environments. It should be no surprise, then, that of the eight executives who responded, six expressed overt concerns regarding the vulnerability of newly assembled remote workforces. Jim Fowler, Chief Technology Officer at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., painted a clear picture as to the scale of his challenges:
The pandemic shifted 98% of our 28,000 associates to their homes in three days. Looking into the future, as much as 50% of our associates may end up working from home permanently. We’ve done an amazing job remaining vigilant so far, but we can’t rest. We’ve been on a five-year journey to replace all our transactional IT systems.
Reliable digital solutions are at the heart of a secure remote workforce, and during a time of increased exploitation of weak cybersecurity systems and protocols, updating and upgrading are as important as ever. Yet, merely keeping security policies and enterprise tech up-to-date still does not suffice for some.
“We have to be relentless about increasing our cyber capabilities—including advanced threat detection and penetration testing—to provide additional protection from malware, internet-based attacks, phishing email and other threats,” said Proctor & Gamble CIO, Vittorio Cretella, in the closing remark of his response.
In the wake of Covid-19, attackers are taking advantage of the increase in remote workers and are preying on the fear of individuals with Covid-themed scams.” – Olivier LeoneP, CIO & CFO, Zebra Technologies Corp.
Capitalizing on the fear and anxieties of a pandemic-strained public is cruel, but scammers don’t care about cruel. They care only about taking whatever they can, whenever they can, from whomever they can, and they’re always ready to take advantage of crises. Thus, organizations must take action to fortify customers and staff against such heartless trickery. The CDC, FTC, and WHO have guidelines and tips for avoiding these particularly cunning scams, and healthcare organizations do well to notify staff and patients of them. With over $113 million lost to these types of scams since January, it’s important that businesses take measures to prevent further loss in any form and keep fraudsters from robbing vulnerable individuals.
CIOs and other corporate technology executives have plenty to worry about. However, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, they are specifically concerned with increased cybercrime, vulnerable remote workforces, and COVID-themed scams. While fraudsters will always attempt to exploit the vulnerable, those who acquire knowledge of their schemes have the opportunity to ensure their attempts do not succeed. With the right tech and information, we can provide workforces, clients, customers, and patients with the ability to avoid and report nefarious online activity.
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