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Beware opportunistic cyber-attacks during lockdown

30 March 2020 Stalker Hutchison Admiral (Pty) Ltd (SHA)
Simon Colman, Executive Head of Digital at SHA Specialist Underwriters

Simon Colman, Executive Head of Digital at SHA Specialist Underwriters

With the nationwide lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic currently underway, businesses are warned that their cybersecurity risks may be at an all-time high. Many companies have implemented work-from-home (WFH) policies, which may put a company at risk of a cyber-attack if their systems are not adequately being managed.

This is according to Simon Colman, Executive Head of Digital at SHA Specialist Underwriters, who says that while companies are looking out for the best interest of their employees by setting up WFH systems and procedures, opportunistic cyber criminals will undoubtedly take advantage of this. “From a systems perspective, employees usually do not have robust safeguards in place that can foil hacking attempts. Larger companies attempt to regulate access to sensitive systems with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) but the inability to handle high volumes of traffic may lead some companies to ease up on these requirements, exposing the network to external threats. The fact that employees are also being isolated from one another by this situation also means that they are at greater risk phishing scams as well as having their emails intercepted.”

He adds that businesses are already going to suffer financial setbacks because of the lockdown, which is why it is more important than ever to minimise any possible losses resulting from cyber-attacks, as well as ensure that they are in the best position possible to recover once the lockdown lifts.

“During this time, business owners should prioritise cyber awareness among their employees by arranging online information sessions and regular updates and check-ins. It is also paramount to ensure that employees follow the right procedures to limit their exposure and that their work devices (such as laptops and tablets) have the correct cybersecurity software installed.”

In addition, having the right insurance cover in place is crucial. “Commercial crime or professional indemnity with computer crime or cyber extensions only cover a portion of the cost of a potential loss. Businesses need a dedicated cyber policy, which indemnifies a business against both first and third party losses. It is of course tempting to cut back on coverage during a crisis and this one is unprecedented but now is actually the time to review all business insurance policies with one’s broker to ensure that any eventuality is covered.”

He adds that cyber is already a high-risk landscape, which has now been exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. “Comprehensive cyber cover is the best solution to manage this risk, and it should now be regarded as an essential risk transfer tool for businesses of all sizes, across all industries,” Colman concludes.

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