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  • Cyber security during COVID-19

Cyber security during COVID-19

14 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world very quickly and many organisations have initiated remote working to ensure business continuity as much as possible. But remote working also increases the changes of cyber-attacks because there are more users accessing internal networks from outside. Some devices aren’t set-up for secure communications and even when they are, networks may not allow secure remote connections. Because of the increased access outside the office’s confines, users might be more susceptible to malware.

BDO has seen an increase in cyber-attacks: spear phishing, ransomware, impersonation attacks, business email compromises, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and more. Nation-state cyber-attack groups and criminal cyber-attack groups are taking full advantage cyber vulnerabilities, especially those most impacted by the current crisis.

COVID-19 is also testing the resilience of disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Because it is ‘black swan’ event, most organisations were not prepared, and many companies are scrambling to keep their businesses running  as much as possible while staying within the constraints of Government’s new emergency regulations.

BDO can assist clients in remotely because of our virtual cybersecurity offerings like penetration testing and cybersecurity awareness training.


Cybersecurity: Top recommendations

BDO’s cyber risk specialists have compiled a versatile cyber strategy to help our clients excel in these difficult times. To reduce both the probability of a cyber-attack or significant data breach and mitigate the negative financial and reputational impacts, BDO offers the following cybersecurity recommendations which are clearly applicable to all industries:


1.Create an organisational culture of cybersecurity

Realising that 40% or more of cyber vulnerabilities are directly linked to employee behaviour, per Gartner’s latest studies, it is vital that organisations focus more on their employees via cybersecurity awareness, education, training, and use of simulations, eg penetration testing and hacking simulations, to create a stronger human firewall to protect their vital digital assets. After all, according to IBM Security’s latest findings, the average cost of a cyber data breach is now USD8.2M.

We are already seeing multiple phishing attacks trying to leverage the COVID-19 pandemic to manipulate unsuspecting staff into clicking on links and providing credentials that lead to compromise. Ensure the C-Suite consistently promotes and supports all employees practicing effective cybersecurity policies, processes, and procedures via a comprehensive cybersecurity awareness, education, and training program, including spear-phishing campaigns and cyber data breach table-top exercises.

With the introduction of extended work-from-home policies, many employees will be working away from the office and managing IT networks for the first time. This introduces multiple opportunities for cyber criminals, fraudsters and conmen to exploit. BDO’s online, internet-based training programmes: Meet the Hacker™ and Cyber Posture Analysis™ offer affordable, immediate protection by:

  • Raising staff members’ awareness of the contemporary cyber-threat landscape
  • Introducing the motives, skills, and techniques used by hackers
  • Evaluating staff members’ personal posture towards internet security
  • Reinforcing the need for greater awareness of staff members’ online behaviour during these trying times.

Through BDO’s remote cyber awareness training you can ensure that your staff remain vigilant to the increased risk from hackers. You can also make use of the downtime to train your employees to become valuable cyber defence assets.


2. Implement advanced cyber diagnostic assessments

Cybersecurity testing has to continue on a regular basis, including:

  •        email cyber-attack assessments
  •        network and endpoint cyber-attack assessments
  •        vulnerability scanning assessments
  •        penetration testing
  •        spear-phishing campaigns.


For the many businesses who don’t have adequate IT security infrastructure or personnel in place, BDO has developed an introductory vulnerability and cyber risk assessment (which can be performed remotely). This offers a unique opportunity to allow companies to understand their cyber posture given the drastic change in business behaviour. These easy steps can ensure that your most valuable assets, ie your network, data and infrastructure, are protected from the expanded attack service that the Coronavirus has made possible for hackers to use.


3. Establish a rapid cyber-attack incident response plan

BDO can assist to develop and periodically test an enterprise-wide well-coordinated information system incident response plan to quickly identify, contain, eradicate, and recover from cyber-attacks.


4. Conduct 24/7/365 monitoring, detection, and response (MDR)

BDO can assist to continually monitor, detect, and respond to all cyber incidents including: email system, network, software applications, and all information system endpoints using advanced security information event management (SIEM) software, data visualisation tools, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.


5. Ensure information system resilience

BDO can assist in auditing, implementing and periodically testing an enterprise-wide business continuity plan (BCP) and disaster recovery plan (DRP).


6. Ensure secure communication

BDO has a secure software communication platform that can facilitate secure (and virtual) interaction, and can be used by organisations in this period where face-to-face interaction is not possible.


A secure communications platform (SCP):

  • Is specifically designed for organisations to ensure all forms of communication including chats, voice calls as well as sharing of videos, pictures and locations, tracking targets or retrieving documents is secured
  • Allows an organisation to use the platform to determine
    •    who uses the platform
    •    what information is shared
    •    implementation of organisational communication policies and processes
  • Ensures that all communication is encrypted and no one can access the system through a “backdoor”
  • Safeguards organisational critical information
  • Responds to, resolves, and recovers from cyber incidents and attacks through timely information sharing, collaboration, and action
  • Establishes a legal and regulatory framework to enable a safe and vibrant cyberspace
  • Ensures changes to the system through source code ownership meet your future needs independent of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM).


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