President & CEO, NetSfere
Changes in working practices implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic could be leaving companies at increased risk of cyberattack.
As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, businesses moved swiftly to support remote working with many employees operating from home but as restrictions eased, new ways of working have become commonplace.
Some staff are returning to the office, while others are adopting a hybrid form of working and dividing their time between the office and external locations. But this could still pose cybersecurity challenges for companies.
The extensive and unsecured use of mobile technologies – such as smartphones, laptops and tablets – is what is causing most concern among IT experts, who fear this is where the biggest security threat lies.
Cybersecurity expert Anurag Lal suggests that many workers picked up bad tech security habits during lockdown periods and these have continued as they return to their offices.
Digitisation of business was well under way before the pandemic, but its increased use in the last two years have brought new risks in terms of cybersecurity, administration, control and compliance.
Mr Lal explains: “The pandemic forced enterprises to realise that they had to equip their employees with the best devices and applications, along with making sure they were providing security for them.”
Technology tipping point
While the advent of the iPhone in 2007 was a tipping point in mobile technology, followed by 3G, 4G and now 5G, the pandemic has proved another major technology tipping point.
A study by NetSfere in conjunction with 451 Research found that 80% of employee respondents use their smartphones for business purposes on a daily basis and three out of four respondents said they use SMS daily.
It is important to understand that mobile first, messaging first productivity gains can only be realised with the right technology. Enterprises are learning that if the right business apps for mobile messaging aren’t accessible or effective, employees will turn to a fragmented landscape of productivity killing consumer apps that are not secure.
A lot of the time, the weakest link in a cybersecurity incident is the user who clicks on the phishing email.
Many business organisations understood the value of applications and devices, but the online behaviour and lax security of employees was not always factored in.
“A lot of the time, the weakest link in a cybersecurity incident is the user who clicks on the phishing email that comes through and opens up a window to the enterprise,” says Mr Lal, who is President and CEO of NetSfere, a global provider of next-generation end-to-end encrypted and compliant messaging and mobility solutions.
“Now, the enterprise has to make sure that devices and applications have strong security solutions in place as well as managing the habits and mentality of the end-users to ensure this end-to-end security.”
The implications of not having security in place can be costly financially and also risk loss of intellectual property.
“The pandemic saw a 30,000-fold increase in cybersecurity incidents, with an increase in phishing and ransomware attacks,” he says.
Secure mobile messaging
Criminals and hackers saw the vulnerability of remote end-users, with mobile messaging being the most popular means to end users to communicate.
“Enterprises understand if they do not address this issue and do not continue to reinforce a mentality and behaviour with end users, these cybersecurity threats will continue to escalate.”
Mr Lal explains that NetSfere provides security and message delivery capabilities, including global cloud-based service availability, device-to-device encryption, location-based features, administrative controls and full regulatory compliance.
“We are focused on delivering secure mobile messaging technology to mobile operators as well as the enterprise,” he says. “In the context of enterprise, we enable a very secure communication platform that is encrypted, controlled and orchestrated entirely by the enterprise so that the end users or employees get the benefit of this technology that allows them to be more productive, but they can do that in an entirely secure manner.”