COVID-19, Global Economy, and Its Impacts on Cybersecurity

As a consequence of the coronavirus, over the next three years, the average growth of the global cybersecurity market is expected to slow down to a rate of 6.2% per year, says the Global Cyber Security Market Analysis report...

COVID-19, Global Economy, and Its Impacts on Cybersecurity

As a consequence of the coronavirus, over the next three years, the average growth of the global cybersecurity market is expected to slow down to a rate of 6.2% per year, says the Global Cyber Security Market Analysis report released last year.

The predicted trend represents a sharp decline from the impressive growth reported in 2019, before the pandemic. More so, cybercriminals continue to cash in on the crisis, taking advantage of the redirected focus of companies and individuals to the prevailing health threat.

Most of the economic impacts of COVID-19 on cybersecurity are related to businesses. Due to restrictions concerning physical spaces, many companies have had to unexpectedly move the entirety (or a substantial part) of their operations online.

Below are ways COVID-19 undermines the most recent advancements in cybersecurity, curtailing development. More importantly, this piece explores solutions and mitigation strategies to ensure cybersecurity steadiness in the face of adversity.

Let’s consider some certain aspects of the economy that have seen cybersecurity incidents increase due to COVID-19.

Small Businesses

The hurried nature of such migrations has opened such businesses up to threat actors who have wasted no time in preying. Most affected are the SMEs; many of them were ill-equipped for digital operations but had to adapt or face business closure grudgingly.

Even before the pandemic, SMEs have regularly been targets of cyberattacks. Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report stated that 43% of cyber attacks targeted small businesses. With the crisis lingering, SMEs have had their resources strained as cyber attackers threaten to bring down a significant section of the economy.

Enterprise Vulnerabilities

Even large organizations have had their cybersecurity limits tested by the spate of cyberattacks. The additional pressure on cybersecurity teams and equipment imposes new challenges on detection and response speeds.

As Mckinsey reported, the crisis has forced many organizations to alter their priorities and budgets. The effects of these have already spilled over into 2021 budgets and would reflect in spending. Businesses (large and small) expected to see increased cybersecurity spending over the next twelve months are spread over the healthcare, finance, tech, and media sectors.

Supply Chain Risks

Another significant way COVID-19 is impacting the global economy cybersecurity-wise pertains to supply chains. For instance, the fragmentation of supply chains in the automotive industry has complicated cybersecurity monitoring. Without a concrete plan to close new vulnerabilities, the industry’s progress in the connected car sector stands at risk of being curtailed. Government regulations have helped in this regard.

Financial Services Sector

Likewise, COVID-19 has heightened the cyber vulnerabilities of firms in the financial services and banking sector. Says a recently published report by Bank for International Settlements, Outside the health sector, the financial sector has the largest share of cyber events classified as Covid-19-related in recent months.

For one, banks have had to tighten their security measures upon the rise in phishing threats. And both customers and staff are affected. As KPMG reports, banks, despite their sophisticated IT systems, sometimes have relaxed control for employees working remotely who lack tools to collaborate remotely.

Curbing the Impacts of COVID-19 on Cybersecurity

As we continue to battle the pandemic, businesses should prioritize maintaining normal business operations in the war against cybercriminals.

For cybercriminals, business disruption is an opportunity to launch attacks once priorities are realigned or confused. Don’t give them a chance. Establish baseline security requirements and dedicate the best effort to protecting those. IT teams mustn’t lose their priorities.

For many SMEs going (fully) remote for the first time, their employees would probably be using unfamiliar tools. By improper handling, misconfiguration, or other means, they may inadvertently open up the company to cyber threats. Employees should receive thorough training when the company is pivoting to a new collaboration tool.

Also, companies should revamp their threat response protocol or create one. Responding to cybersecurity threats and incidents requires a collaborative effort. There is the risk of physical distance translating to an organizational disconnect, further slowing down decision-making in response situations. Adapting response protocols to new operational models is a proactive step to resolving such issues.

Conclusion

These are times of uncertainty. There is no sure end in sight for this pandemic. Even if there was, work and operations might not go back to their former state again. Coronavirus may have altered how we work forever. In light of this, companies need to reassess their existing cybersecurity protocols, tightening remote access management and endpoint protection.

Image Credit: saksham choudhary; pexels; thank you!

David Odinegun

Digital Marketer and PR Specialist. The founder and creative director of Drive Digital Buzz, a digital marketing agency that specializes in creating the buzz needed by Startups, Growth Companies, and SMEs to speed up business growth and maximize marketing ROI.