Cyber threats in the time of covid-19

Cyber threats in the time of covid-19
Credit: shutterstock.com/GlebSStock

Technologies that foster remote working are having a moment. The covid-19 pandemic means most of us are working from home, with lawyers relying on online communication platforms to contact colleagues and clients. Within this era of remote working, tech threats loom larger than ever. GCs across the region must ensure their employees, businesses and data are protected.

It’s the new normal for most people. It’s why many have accidentally met their colleagues’ children and partners in the background of video meetings over the last few weeks. Working from home during this public health pandemic has required an adjustment. Getting to grips with the countless apps and technologies that facilitate remote working has, for some, been a challenge in itself.

For the most part, these technologies are a source of good – they enable meetings between multiple people across a company, and indeed across the globe, from the comfort of employees’ homes; they allow business, to a certain degree, to continue as usual. But some of these apps are new to the market and not all companies are ensuring they are safe to use.  

It isn’t just communication apps that employees are using more often now: as many countries across the region continue their law-enforced lockdowns, employees are increasing their general online activity – often on the same devices they use for work purposes. This is a real security concern. “In this current environment, there’s been a huge uptick in cyberattacks on clients – hackers are criminals and they see this crisis as a new business opportunity,” says Hogan Lovells’ partner Peter Marta, adding that employees are at greater risk now more than ever before. “An employee is much more likely to accidentally open a phishing scam while working from home in their pyjamas than they would at the office in a suit – it’s inevitable that people have their guard down more in this climate.”

The more online exposure employees have, the more exposed the company is to threats, viruses and data leaks. “Employers have a lack of direct control over their employees and third parties who, for now, are only linked through these technology platforms,” says Ginny Castillo, general counsel for the Central American branch of securities company Prosegur. “But without technology, we wouldn’t be able to innovate as businesses during these covid-19 times, so it’s all about adapting, taking advantage of our strengths and mitigating our threats, including those of new technologies to companies.”

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