Our cyber security products span from our next gen SIEM used in the most secure government and critical infrastructure environments, to automated cyber risk reporting applications for commercial and government organisations of all sizes.
We are used to dealing with viruses in cyber security. They are one of our most familiar threats. New ones come out all the time, we study them, we understand their signatures, and then we update the protection of our population of systems, devices and users to detect them and prevent infection.
In the real world though we are currently facing a very different sort of virus.
As this post is being written the news reports are coming thick and fast; The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the spread of Coronavirus as pandemic. Northern Italy is in lock down, the UK is in “containment” and the approach to the virus response in China, the US and the rest of the world is under intense, and worried, scrutiny.
People have been infected, people have (sadly) died and many more are ill or quarantined (or self-isolated). There has already been panic buying of perceived essentials such as toilet paper and pasta, and fights have broken out because of it. As of now, no one knows how much worse this is going to get.
Security operations might, if disruption gets really bad, be the least of our worries as businesses. The impediments to travel, to sales, the plunging stock markets, peaks of demand (or lack of supply) for some goods, massive impacts to demand for others, the closures of schools; as well as widespread illness and loss of life will be much more serious.
If your business provides vital services or has to protect sensitive data, then these obligations, the importance of doing what you normally do, won’t go away. This will be the case even if the coronavirus becomes more widespread.
Some job roles could be put on hold, people asked to stay off work or work from home. These types of sensible precautions have already been used by some firms where cases have been suspected and we should expect this to continue.
For organisations, this means providing the ability to work remotely and knowing which roles are critical. For those that can already (or could easily) be allowed to work from home, those can be managed too.
But where a critical role isn’t easily undertaken off-site, there could be some pre-planning needed. Often security operations centres (SOC) fit this profile.
If you haven’t already, it is worth thinking about how you will manage security operations if access to offices, or travel, or school closures affect the availability of staff or the ability of them to get to the office the SOC normally operates from.
You can manage personal hygiene and safety with hand sanitiser and regular hand washing, or by curtailing non-essential travel. But make sure the baseline cyber security hygiene of your business IT systems is sufficient to keep them protected from the background noise of cyber-attack during the next few weeks or months.
As with everything else, panic is not helpful. The cyber security equivalent of stockpiling toilet rolls (whatever that is) probably won’t help. But being caught by surprise and failing to plan for various eventualities is a bad idea too.
Somewhere in the middle is a steady course of preparation, anticipation and reasoned response. Security operations functions should be seeking a risk-based approach to dealing with this outbreak – as they do with the more technical cyber threats and viruses that are their more normal challenges.
See the WHO page for the latest information on Coronavirus.
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