By Otavio Freire, President, CTO and Co-Founder SafeGuard Cyber

COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is proving to be a stubborn pathogen. Tragically, the global death toll has now surpassed 3,000. Everyone is crossing their fingers that governments and health professionals will get the outbreak under control soon.

In the meantime, businesses need to continue to be as productive as possible. COVID-19 has already had a big impact on global travel, with countries restricting immigration, major events and conferences being canceled, and increasing amounts of people self-isolating as a precautionary measure.

Wise companies should be preparing for an extended – perhaps even mandated – period during which most of their staff will be working from home.

While COVID-19 is brought under control, more and more staff are going to struggle to be in the same room as their colleagues. IT and CISOs will need to maintain workforce continuity even as the usual working arrangements get scrambled. 

A greater proportion of discussions, management, and execution is going to have to happen online. For this to happen effectively, companies will need to ease corporate restrictions on the use of platforms such as Slack, Teams, Salesforce Chatter, and even social media channels, such as LinkedIn. 

Already, as of November 2019, Microsoft Teams and Slack were experiencing daily active users of 20-million and 12-million respectively. FireEye reports that “we are seeing customers use internal messaging tools anywhere between 10% and 30% of the time instead of email.”

The pressures of a global event like COVID-19 mean that more workers than ever will be conducting critical business on platforms like Teams and Slack. As a result, bad actors will flock to these platforms, and start directing their malicious efforts here.

And at present, most enterprises are not sufficiently securing third-party cloud platforms. They are vulnerable to these attacks and bad actors.

Many companies think a CASB (cloud access security broker) will cover them. Unfortunately, it won’t. Logging traffic in and out of these platforms isn’t enough. Security teams need proper visibility into chats, where links and content are shared.

Other companies have recognized weaknesses in this area for some time. They know that work-from-home Fridays have already codified the potential for exploits into a corporate culture. But they’ve been dragging their feet in terms of plugging these gaps.

Whatever their situation, now is the time for every enterprise to get serious. 

Usually, security is lacking because companies perceive a trade-off. They think that maximum security comes with obstructions, repetitive authentications, impeded workflows. But: 

With the right platform, basic operationality can be preserved, and security can be made watertight.  

COVID-19 should be the final push that businesses need to properly secure the modern paradigms of digital work. Pandemic or no pandemic, in 2020, work is happening in the cloud. Establish a robust cybersecurity stance and stay ahead of bad actors.

About the Author

As the President, CTO and Co-Founder of SafeGuard Cyber, Mr. Freire is responsible for the development and continuous innovation of SafeGuard Cyber’s enterprise platform. He has rich experience in social media applications, internet commerce and IT serving the pharmaceutical, financial services, high-tech, and government verticals. Mr. Freire has a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, where he currently serves as a visiting executive lecturer.Otavio can be reached online at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ofreire/ and at our company website https://www.safeguardcyber.com/