3 min read  | Cybercrime

What does vulnerability management look like post-COVID-19?

The past 18 months have been some of the toughest and most challenging times the world has had to go through in the 21st century, all thanks to COVID-19.

Businesses of all sizes, regardless of their industry, were severely affected by the lockdowns that were enforced as a measure to control the pandemic. With the pandemic still raging in many parts of the world, the impacts of this unprecedented health and economic crisis are destined to be felt long after the virus is gone.

Many companies have adopted alternative ways to conduct their business operations to combat the impact of the pandemic, and the internet has come to the forefront.

With the power of the internet, many industries have turned to remote working and work-from-home arrangements, which have allowed businesses to survive and even thrive during the hardest times.

Although WFH has been largely beneficial to all parties involved, as cybersecurity professionals, we can’t deny that it has increased cybersecurity vulnerabilities. As a result, organisations need to reconsider their vulnerability management process to navigate the new normal, safely.

Vulnerability management for WFH arrangements

WFH arrangements, while necessary to continue business as usual in the new normal we find ourselves in, have increased the attack surface for cybercriminals.

As is common knowledge, WFH is less secure compared to traditional on-site working arrangements as the work is conducted remotely and outside of the secure network of your organisation. Cybercrime was rife even across companies that had the most secure cybersecurity infrastructure, making organisational data and resources more vulnerable to attacks. 

In fact, a recent report found that phishing attacks increased by 667% in under a month after national lockdowns. 

As a result, many companies are moving their vulnerability management processes to include work-from-home networks. One important step in this process is training employees about common security risks and vulnerabilities across WFH settings.

Organisations are also using remote security controls to combat the security risk of WFH arrangements. Remote security controls eliminate the use of personal devices, such as smartphones, and roll out two-factor authentication and other security protocols, reducing exposure to cyber threats across an organisation’s network, resources, devices and data.

Increased dependency on real-world simulated attack exercises 

Educating employees on the risks of WFH can only go so far. Without hands-on training and experience, employees are bound to make costly mistakes, which can be catastrophic for an organisation.

According to recent statistics, employees without hands-on awareness training on cybersecurity risks are 38% more susceptible to become successful targets of phishing attacks.

Fortunately, many companies now use real-world simulated attacks to train their employees on potential attacks and phishing scams. A recent study showed successful phishing attacks on WFH arrangements dropped by over 60% after real-world simulated phishing attack training.

Utilising the workforce-of-the-future model

The lack of adequately trained and skilled cybersecurity professionals is a problem plaguing many organisations, as cybersecurity professionals are high in demand. Pre-COVID-19, organisations were looking to hire in-house cybersecurity professionals to strengthen their cybersecurity infrastructure. COVID-19, however, threw a spanner in the works.

Fortunately, modern technology is allowing businesses to enjoy cybersecurity support remotely, and if companies are willing to work with remote cybersecurity teams, the human resource shortage can be resolved on a faster timeline. 

More and more organisations are now adopting the workforce-of-the-future model to bolster their vulnerability management processes. With this model, companies can access and leverage the support of cybersecurity professionals to meet their requirements without hiring full-time employees.

A new approach to vulnerability management post-COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many industries operate fundamentally, including the cybersecurity industry. With companies adopting remote work arrangements, more robust and nuanced vulnerability management processes are needed to combat rising risks.

Adopt the best practices highlighted in this post to bolster your cybersecurity infrastructure and ensure the safety of your precious digital assets today, in the new normal, and beyond.