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Cybersecurity plans on ice due to covid? They shouldn’t be – and here’s why

A new report from ThinkDigitalPartners suggests that many firms have put cybersecurity on hold during the pandemic although additional measures are needed to sustain, for example, remote working.

The report focuses on Sectigo’s 2020 Work-from-Home IT impact study, which finds that a massive 45% of UK firms have postponed their cybersecurity initiatives for at least a month as a result of COVID-19. Yet 47% of IT pros in the survey pointed out that phishing and malicious emails were a worry in remote working environments, with 48% naming insecure Wi-Fi as another problem.

Meanwhile, some of the newer authentication offerings that could help were taking a back seat to traditional methods with known weaknesses such as the standard username and password set-up or hardware-token-based multifactor authentication.

Companies therefore would need to look further for new solutions – and soon, according to the report, which also suggested that UK consumers won’t forgive any breaches that happen as a result.

The view is echoed somewhat by Webroot security analyst Tyler Moffitt, in a feature for ITProPortal, pointing to the new cybersecurity landscape that is resulting from the emergence of AI and machine learning.

“With the UK currently in lockdown and thousands of people working remotely, it’s never been more important for employers to leverage AI and ML tools to maintain cyber-resilience,” Moffitt explains.

As Moffitt explains, AI and machine learning tools can be used to analyse data from millions of cyber-incidents, identifying potential threats such as new versions of malware or a remote worker clicking on a phishing link.

Research shows, he says, that more than half of IT decision makers don’t yet full understand the benefits of these tools. In addition, use can be a double-edged sword as companies need to understand them to really get the benefits and ensure that malicious operators don’t exploit them.

“Machine learning is AI that is improving its own ability for its designed task,” he says. “Machine learning right now is for data aggregation – it helps find patterns in large data sets. This is valuable in cybersecurity where we have an information and data problem. We’re only going to be handling more and more data at an exponential rate. “

These issues cannot be solved by simply adding more human resources. Automation is going to be key, which means machine learning in many cases. Data can then be mined, and various patterns based on past trends are drawn out. These trends help drive decision-making, he confirms.

In addition, firms’ IT staff, during the pandemic and rush to remote working, are having to deal with an “onslaught of opportunistic online scams and other cyberattacks that have surged amid the chaos“.

Continuous education and increased awareness of the benefits that these technologies bring across the industry is central to becoming more resilient, Moffitt concludes, and with that resilience, investments in newer tools will pay off.

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