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Securing your Organization amidst COVID-19 Challenge

Diwakar Dayal, Managing Director at Tenable, India explains how organizations can have a robust security plan in place during difficult times.

Today, as the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic, hackers are trying to take advantage of the rapid changes happening across industries. The new remote working model in the form of work from home is becoming the new normal for employees. But use of collaboration tools for team interactions, availability of enterprise data on endpoint devices and lack of physical oversight of critical IT infrastructure has increased cyber security threats to a large extent. In an interaction with CXOToday, Diwakar Dayal, Managing Director at Tenable, India, explains the key challenges CISOs are facing currently with a distributed workforce and ways to overcome them.

CXOToday: Given the sudden spike in the adoption of digital technologies, what cybersecurity trends do you notice in the enterprise?

Diwakar Dayal: Even before the uptake of digital technologies, security teams had a variety of environments to manage, including physical networks, private cloud and virtual SDN environments, multiple public clouds, and the list goes on. The recent transition to remote work and the adoption of digital technologies only further expands the attack surface. With any new technology adoption, cybercriminals will take advantage of any sign of weakness.

We’ve already seen a number of phishing scams, misinformation and fraudulent work-from-home opportunities making their way around the internet. These could potentially put the wider corporate network at risk if accessed. Therefore the onus is on organizations to ensure that a robust security plan is in place to thwart these threats. Cyber hygiene practices such as maintaining systems, blocking malicious sites and IP addresses, enforcing multi-factor authentication and using encryption is a good place to start.

CXOToday: Can you share some best practices that will help the ‘work from home’ culture? 

Diwakar Dayal: Working from home can be new for many. Hence, we encourage leaders and managers to schedule regular team catch-ups, organize virtual coffees, create Slack channels for quick work updates, and ensure that successes are celebrated.

CXOToday: With a distributed workforce, is it difficult to manage and secure the expanded attack surface? 

Diwakar Dayal: Managing and securing an expanded attack surface can be challenging without the right technology. The wide range of vulnerability types and the diverse ways attackers can target them make vulnerability assessment a critical component of any cybersecurity practice. We’d encourage organizations to continually assess their networks for security vulnerabilities as it can help to prevent everything from unauthorized access to applications to identifying underlying software flaws that expose sensitive data.

Vulnerability scanners can help you identify flaws or weaknesses, making it easier to figure out if systems have common vulnerabilities or rare flaws that need to be addressed.

CXOToday: What are the key challenges CISOs are facing currently? How can they overcome them?

Diwakar Dayal: The attack surface has expanded overnight with a sudden shift to a remote-work model where employees now have to merge personal technology with work devices. This can be challenging for security teams who now have to manage this attack surface that is distributed beyond the confines of the enterprise network.

To overcome this challenge, security teams need to understand their distributed attack surface. This includes focusing on corporate-controlled assets and also the additional risks that can be caused by new devices that aren’t managed and secured by corporate security measures.

Given that a higher volume of critical information is being sent through email as employees work remotely, VPNs and mail servers need to be secured by ensuring server patches and updates are conducted on time. Additionally, understand the criticality of software and systems updates by always keeping the company’s browsers up-to-date with the latest security patches.

CXOToday: In the current situation, what must organizations do to ramp up enablement efforts without falling prey to cyber-attacks?

Diwakar Dayal: Organizations looking to adopt a remote-work model should consider the following:

  • Lock arms with IT to secure software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications via cloud access security brokers for configuration, security and data loss prevention.
  • Reduce access to IaaS providers by using jump boxes, which provide the ability to access and manage devices in a separate security zone, and reach the critical systems.
  • Add IT systems management onto laptops to control software updates and patching.
  • Use local vulnerability detection agents which can offer off-network visibility for all the connected devices.
  • Business continuity should consider financial and operational impacts, along with management tolerances and resource dependencies. It should include critical details and crisis management plans to communicate across the workforce quickly and effectively.
  • Security leaders to keep employees updated on the expanded attack surface.

CXOToday: What have the first three months of the year been like for Tenable? How are you engaging with your partners and customers?

Diwakar Dayal: At Tenable, our customers are at the heart of everything we do so we’ve developed thoughtful procedures that enable us to respond to emergencies and maintain high business standards. Apart from being available to our customers, our Tenable Research team is working around the clock to publish the latest research on cyberattacks, phishing attempts and other opportunistic behaviors so that our customers can stay informed. We understand that managing risk during these difficult times can be daunting. The entire Tenable team is here to help and support our community of customers, partners and employees.

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Sohini Bagchi
Sohini Bagchi is Editor at Trivone Digital, a published author and a storyteller. She can be reached at sohini.bagchi@trivone.com