Cyber Security in a COVID-19 World

Gary R. Pannone

December 9, 2020

A recently published article by the Harvard Law School Forum provides valuable insight to the multiple challenges being faced due to the pandemic. Although businesses have readily discussed the actions to be taken in the event of a pandemic, the scope of challenges faced resulting from the COVID-19 attack is unprecedented. As governing boards have discussed and analyzed the appropriate response to cyber issues, they are ongoing and creating stress from an operational and governance perspective.

The most significant change that has occurred during the past nine months is the new normal of remote working that has created a cultural upheaval to the workplace, in addition to placing a strain on the networks that support the activity. Many companies had a small percentage of their staff and managers working remotely; however, the surge in positive cases has significantly increased this percentage to maintain a safe environment.

Businesses have struggled to move the employees from an in-office environment to a virtual world. The potential for security breaches has dramatically increased due to employees working from home on shared computers vs. using a dedicated computer or laptop for business only that has the appropriate firewalls and other network protection that prevents cyberattacks.

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte & Touche LLP, the amount of cyber attacks during the pandemic have increased significantly and the types of attacks include phishing, online scams and disruptive malware, including ransomware and malicious domains. Budget cuts severely limit closely-held businesses from investing in the resources that are necessary to protect against these attacks.

In order for the challenges presented to companies and their boards to be addressed, it will be necessary for extreme vigilance to be the theme at meetings, and for boards to establish oversight committees with the expertise to develop mitigation plans that have built-in flexibility and efficiency to allow for rapid response should a breach occur. If you would like to learn more about data protection, cyber security strategies or other business matters, please contact Attorney Pannone at 401-824-5100 or email gpannone@pldolaw.com.

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