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article imageQ&A: What has the pandemic taught us about security priorities? Special

By Tim Sandle     Aug 29, 2020 in Business
A crisis, like the one on the scale of the novel coronavirus, reshapes business priorities and exposes vulnerabilities. Notably this includes cybersecurity, as a leading expert considers.
During the COVID-19 era, many companies have become the targets for rogue actors in terms of seeking to exploit digital vulnerabilities. This means that continually assessing the cybersecurity policy and having a back-up plan is of great importance.
To look into the issue further, Digital Journal spoke with Doug Wick, VP of Products at ALTR, to see what the coronavirus pandemic has taught the industry about security priorities and the enterprise's needs.
Digital Journal: What has the pandemic taught us about security priorities and needs?
Doug Wick: While we all knew that the traditional network perimeter, and the tools one uses to protect it, has been disappearing for a while, the pandemic has really shone a light on this and accelerated the transformation. Forcing companies into a remote work model means even more endpoints are on untrusted infrastructure, much more sensitive data is being created (video) and is flowing across the Internet, cloud tools are being adopted and relied upon much more. As a result security has to focus on prioritizing approaches that are designed to work independent of infrastructure, and to focus on data protection.
DJ: What will CISOs and other security managers now need to take on going forward amid the ongoing pandemic and in a post-COVID-19 world?
Wick: The cloud software and home office tools that used to just be more convenient are now essential, so CISOs and their organizations are adapting quickly. Understanding what people are using, where, and how - and then getting a handle on how to keep those tools secure and compliant - is key. Even if the pandemic subsides, the way we work will be changed forever.
DJ: What might change and look different?
Wick: Beginning with a robust structure for authentication no matter where someone is, security will have to focus on logical permissions and granular control of access to applications and data at scale. Security that is dependent on IT delivery and a specific piece of infrastructure, even if it's cloud infrastructure, will need to be phased out quickly and replaced. All of this rapid change in terms of how people work is set against the background of large changes in the regulatory environment around personal data.
DJ: What new duties might the CISO need to assume and manage?
Wick: The CISO is going to be challenged to work less with IT and more with the CIO and application owners across the company to become expert in software and how integrating with software can answer security and compliance questions. This is where "security and privacy by design" starts, and since software is generally designed to be independent of infrastructure, any security that becomes part of the software process does too. Becoming embedded organizationally and technologically with applications and the data they produce and use is the wave of the future.
One of the biggest challenges in technology is to get better at protecting sensitive data. Data is already exposed to serious privacy threats and theft. As we increasingly move data to the cloud and access it remotely from home offices, we are taking even more risks.
DJ: What trends are you seeing that are shaping the enterprise's approach to this problem?
Wick: First, our mindset toward data access is starting to sound a lot like how we think of accessing money with a debit card. For the most part, data access has been defined by who is trying to access it. In a remote, cloud-driven, bring-your-own-device world—protected by a patchwork of complex and disparate identity systems—it’s easy for the bad guys to pose as someone they are not.
We’re combating this by taking a page out of a familiar playbook. It’s not about who has the debit card in their hands, it[s about understanding spending habits and alerting the cardholder, or even blocking transactions, when activity looks suspicious. New technologies can handle data the same way.
Second, entirely new technologies are emerging that approach data protection by making it part of the design of applications that create and use it. Traditional security measures are implemented into the infrastructure that the data uses, like toll booths and barriers on a highway. However, we’re starting to see solutions that embed guidance and security into the applications we use, like putting smart safety technology into the cars on that highway.
That way, those applications can go anywhere, on any road—even a road in the cloud—and still be safe. This will be a big change because it lets IT do what it does best, which is optimize infrastructure around cost, delivery, efficiency and innovation without worrying about securing data.
DJ: How seriously should businesses be taking the threat from insiders?
Wick: These days the insider threat is the thing that keeps both physical and cybersecurity leaders alike awake at night. Good communication and information sharing across those functions is key, as precursors to a breach might be spotted first in either realm, or by looking at information from both together.
For instance, you can learn more by analyzing the use of physical credentials alongside the use of digital credentials to understand normal behavior of different roles within your company, and where policy should be set to limit that behavior and alert security teams when it deviates from normal.
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