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The Evolution of Cybersecurity in the COVID-19 Era

Cedric Gourio, Chief Information Security Officer, Allianz Partners

As the global IT landscape continues to evolve, businesses are looking to migrate to interconnected cloud platforms in order to bring resources closer and reduce latency. That said, the Internet has been the key to connect computers worldwide, providing an omnipresent capacity of multimodal, interactive communication at any given time. Besides, it helps in effective data management. While connectivity is opening new doors of economic transformation in countries across the world, on the flip side, it is also paving the way for new cyberthreats. Governments worldwide are attempting to improve cybersecurity by collaborating with the private sector and imposing regulations to force companies to safeguard their respective IT departments and computer systems from viruses. As compliance directives vary across industries and countries, cybersecurity solution providers need to abide by different guidelines that vary in complexity. Adding to the challenges is the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced businesses globally to shift to remote working, overnight. Amid the pandemic, new malware and viruses have entered the field, forcing cybersecurity solution providers to develop effective security solutions in a limited time. On the other hand, organizations are adopting security solutions for their cloud platforms to counter the newly rising threats and safeguard their data.

Coping up with the COVID-19 Challenge

In the current trend of 'work from home,' cyberattacks such as phishing and malware are increasing exponentially. New and improved cybersecurity solutions have to be flexible to ensure their seamless installation into a worker's computer system without disrupting day-to-day work. Further, the solutions need to ensure that employees are connected with the authorized company server, not external attackers.

New and improved cybersecurity solutions have to be flexible to ensure seamless installation into a worker's computer system without disrupting day-to-day work

Allianz Partners established remote access prior to the pandemic and ensured that the ongoing projects are finalized to show that its remote access solution is fully variable. With close to 80 percent of the workforce connected remotely, Allianz Partners had to increase the capacity of its cybersecurity platform, strengthening the security measures. In addition, the firm played an active part in increasing the awareness among the employees to understand the measures required to handle security.

An Effective, Long-term Security Strategy to Counter Threats

Setting up cybersecurity takes a long time, and, it requires commitment and strategies to prevent malware and unknown threats from attacking computer systems. The key to set up a robust security strategy lies in three steps– prevention, detection and reaction. It is imperative to implement adequate security measures to detect and stop viruses from entering an organization. Most of the current anti-virus software are unable to detect zero-day threats, leaving systems and all their data unprotected. However, an efficient network governance framework can detect zero-day threats while providing comprehensive insight into the network. To combat cyberthreats effectively, awareness about the different types of threats in the digital world is essential. It is important to participate in security awareness programs to understand the key points crucial for setting up a potent long-term cybersecurity strategy. Allianz Partners has been actively conducting awareness campaigns and helping people with phishing tests to better understand how threats and their detection work. The firm has a dedicated team responsible for detecting incidents. To that end, the firm partners with third-party agencies that inform Allianz about any threat or potential security breaches related to the organization.

Witnessing new types of cyberattacks, Allianz Partners has devised a concept through which it can counter the ensuing threats. The aim–making an application secure by fixing all the security glitches in the design phase. This ensures that an application is completely secure before production. Catering to a diverse clientele, Allianz Partners has been working with Fortune Global 500 companies with several systems, specifications, and applications. Companies using multifactor authentication are prone to cyberattacks as passwords used by multiple users have more chances of compromise. On the other hand, biometrics is a safer option for large organizations as it does not operate on passwords and has less chance of compromise.

Modern Technologies can Play a Major Role in Foolproof Security

To implement a sound cybersecurity strategy, business, IT, and the solution provider's objectives must be aligned for maximum value, and Allianz Partners is no exception. At the outset of implementation, Allianz Partners scopes the existing security systems in the organization to set up a secure connection without any risk. After connecting, the firm implements the best practices and its end-to-end approach to secure the entire infrastructure.

As cybersecurity continues to rise as a concern, businesses are looking to automate the manual processes. It is exhausting for humans to consolidate and analyze the massive amount of data. Allianz Partners is considering infusing artificial intelligence(AI) with the security systems, automating the manual analysis process to efficiently detect and eliminate threats. Relatively new in the market, AI has been revolutionary in every industry across the globe. From the security perspective, it can foresee and detect unknown zero-day threats and eliminate them.

Another challenge for security is data encryption. With encrypted data, analysis of files bearing threats becomes challenging. So, when a user visits an external website, the data needs to be decrypted. This requires a particular set of skills that is rare in the current talent market. To get the job done optimally, recruiting the right candidate is crucial. Besides, with each incident, organizations need to learn about the loopholes and deficiencies in their cybersecurity strategy. This will help them leverage the experience to improve security protocols.

To effectively defend against the latest threats, a proactive approach is required, whereby security controls and processes are regularly assessed to ensure they are fit for detection purposes. Allianz Partners uses red teaming, an ethical hacking engagement that helps banks, insurance and other government institutions better understand their cybersecurity risks, uncover and address gaps in defenses, and prioritize future security investments.

Moving forward, Allianz Partners looks forward to leveraging modern technologies to improve its ability to detect threats. Understanding the dynamic technology market, the firm looks forward to adopting technologies that suit well for their specific needs.

Security is not only about technology. As businesses continue to transform their IT departments, leaders need to keep an open mind while adopting best practices and new processes to safeguard their confidential data. A well-designed security is about finding the balance between security processes and business strategy.

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