Data Privacy and Security In The Age Of Pandemic

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Data Privacy and Security In The Age Of Pandemic

With the rise of COVID-19, there has been a highlighted emphasis on issues of cybersecurity.

However, as more people are making their way to the workplace, there is also a shift that surrounds data security. Undoubtedly, cybersecurity is important but the major question here is the protection of data.

Similar to any other crisis, hackers are more likely to use these uncertain times to complete their purposes. In addition, the company's adaptation towards covid-19 might have introduced some unwanted privacy and security issues. Both our activities and day-to-day work have been affected by this pandemic, developing a chance for hackers who grow in these environments.

If the implementation to help protect data, secure systems, and maintaining systems are not followed then there can be a higher risk factor for the organization. Continued support and assistance need to be provided to the person who assigns responsibilities and roles for corresponding data and manages to meet their requirement for the jobs.

Having a constantly fluid situation, where each day comes with new challenges, it is important for companies to cross-check and navigate numerous areas of the business to protect data and governance compliance ahead of time.

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Major Risks to Data Security

In today’s article, we are about to summarise all the threats and vulnerabilities issues that have been encountered during the COVID-19 rise. So here is the list of some problems that need to be addressed and the way you can save yourself from such security issues.

  • Phishing, Smishing & Fraud Sites

Smishing or Phishing are done through SMS or mails where fraudsters or cybercriminals attack to gain personal information or to acquire access to the company’s system for gaining valuable information. It’s not like these crimes are new but due to the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, countries have seen about a 350% increase in the rate of phishing emails or smishing SMS.

Usually, remote users, be it an employee of an organization or a student, are likely to fall prey. There is no clear reason why it has happened - maybe they are distracted while multitasking or feel more secure at home that they click the link from such emails or SMS without giving it any second thought.

Here, the key to keeping data safe is training the staff while using the technology that helps in blocking suspicious activity and preventing penetration if somehow a threatening link has been clicked.

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  • Fraud in Email Payment

Email payment fraud occurs at the time an email is intercepted while a business and its client is communicating. It also compromises online transaction security. If you want to minimize these frauds, it is important to never share the details like invoices or account information in open mail.

Rather, if there is a requirement to send such emails, the attachment must be password protected and the password must be shared through a phone call instead of providing in the same email. With more businesses working remotely, the concern of an increase in cybercrimes has also inclined. So it is vital for both the workers and organization to be informed about the guidelines of cybersecurity.

  • Video Conferencing Technology

With the adaptation of new ways and implementations of advanced technology to conduct meetings, the utilization of video conferencing is higher. However, you need to know that those applications collect a lot of information containing IP addresses and locations, leading to the risk of data breaches. In such cases, all remote workers must rely on better IT support and impactful security.

  • Use of Personal Devices

With more and more organizations shifting to working from home, there were many unable to offer work computers to the workers. Due to that, employees began using their personal computers that were old and lacked good security like antivirus, backup protections, and customized firewalls. This has also increased the ease of access to hackers facilitating more theft and holding large amounts of information. Besides, it also allows them to re-route the transfer of money or interpret emails.

Similarly, where an IT manager of a company controls the security of Wi-Fi networks, but at home, the network that is being used has weak protocols that help cyber criminals to achieve financial and personal information.

In such cases, businesses should provide secured devices to the workers and use a VPN for security. And wherever it’s impossible to do so, employees should ensure that their operating systems are updated and their firewalls are activated as well.

Consideration of Data Protection and Cyber Security

As discussed above, there are several risks associated with remote work. But with careful processes, planning, auditing, training, and adherence to some of the best IT practices, companies would be able to minimize the major risks. So, let us discuss a couple of high-level considerations that help in continuously monitoring.

  • Requirements and Policies

The remote access policies of an organization must be clear about the expectations and requirements. These policies must include threats to different devices and the way they must configure. Actions to be taken in the case of violation of policy must be clear and enforced. Every policy must be tested continuously and the employees must be reminded about these policies. Moreover, there must be security practice for the staff that they need to follow while remotely working and constantly use a VPN.

  • Infrastructure Support

Testing remote connectivity be it VDI or VPN interfaces to assure that they support the increasing remote access. In addition, employees must be able to complete their tasks without increasing the risk of exposure to data or infrastructure. Updating, implementing, prompting security patches on remote access is critical.

  • Training

Organizations should pay more attention to employees that are new or the one who has no to limited experience of working remotely. Considering that each of the employees needs to understand the security required to work from their home, every one of them must be trained. At a regular interval of time, security awareness must be provided.

  • Auditing

Every company should adopt ISO certification, their practices and ensure that audits are taking place on a regular basis and the checks are done at regular intervals to reveal potential threats. You must understand what needs to be done beforehand to make sure your employees and their tasks are free from any kind of threat.

Other Factors To Be Considered

On the basis of heightened risks for cybersecurity during this pandemic, there is a lot that needs to be done for the protection of data. However, there are a few factors that you need to consider while working remotely, entailing:

  • Enabling updates as soon as they are available
  • Download or Open applications or software from trusted sources
  • Who has access to IT data and systems
  • Ensuring backups run frequently
  • Using unique and strong passwords and they are changed regularly
  • If unsure about something, discuss that with your Data Protection Officer
  • Not click or open attachments in the email received from an unknown source

One important fact that we have learned from working remotely is that no organization needs to be tied by geographical area. For any company for which work-from-home has been successful, this practice opens to new opportunities for applicants situated in different areas of the world. Besides, it is also important to take the privacy of data into consideration and implementing practices that will help in keeping the employees and organization safe from data breaches or any other risks.