The world is facing an ‘epidemic’ of cyber attacks. In April, 450 emails and passwords of staff from the World Health Organisation were leaked, along with thousand others working on Covid-19 response.

“Cyber criminals are smart,” says Nick Savvides, Forcepoint’s Senior Director of Strategic Business, Asia Pacific. “They wake up every day and their job is to figure out how to get the most out of their victims.”

Their evolving tactics, along with a shift to cloud, call for a new security framework. Savvides shares how a cloud-centric security model will help organisations build robust defenses.

Capitalising on chaos 

Covid-19 has accelerated existing risks while introducing new ones, says Savvides. The push to ensure business continuity caused many agencies to “compromise on their security policies”.

“The compensating controls that we have around someone’s internet access, for example, aren’t available to us when we send people to work from home.” Home devices may not be properly patched with updated security softwares as well, he adds.

The chaos of Covid-19 has also presented hackers with an opportunity as organisations were “scrambling to make sure that services were operating”. “We’ve seen ransomware attacks come in from a home network back into that corporate environment.”

“They will never let a crisis go to waste. And this one is no different,” says Savvides.

Cloud-first security

With today’s complex threats, increasing number of remote users, and the use of cloud skyrocketing, a new model of security is needed, says Savvides.

In its 2019 report, IT advisory firm Gartner recommended a new security framework known as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). The model converges networking and security into a unified, cloud-native service.

SASE simplifies IT infrastructure by converging multiple point products into a single platform. Not only does that cut down on cost – it also reduces inconsistencies and gives organisations more visibility over their environment.

With cloud-native security, organisations can also easily connect to wherever resources are located. That makes it “as close to the services and as close to the users as possible”, says Savvides.

Forcepoint is incorporating behavioural analytics and machine learning into its SASE solution, Dynamic Edge Protection. The technology collects data on how users are behaving and predicts whether it is going to lead up to a breach, says Savvides. If a user is behaving suspiciously, the system can automatically limit their activity.

Advice for the next new normal

For organisations to prepare for the next new normal, Savvides offers three pieces of advice.

First, organisations should not base cybersecurity policies on “what you did today, because that might change tomorrow”. “Ensure that your cyber security posture and policies are adaptable enough to deal with the next new normal,” he adds.

Next, ensure that security is human and data-centric. “In the new era of computing, things change quickly, especially infrastructure that continues to transform,” says Savvides. Humans and data are the only two constants.

Governments need to structure security around humans and data rather than infrastructure. “Worry about what the user is doing, what the data is doing, and use that as the basis for developing your controls and your strategy,” he says.

Lastly, organisations need to make the security team part of projects right from the beginning, instead of “a back-of-house function that comes in to review things after”, says Savvides.

Attackers will only get more ruthless; and cyberattacks will only grow in scale and complexity. A revised security model must be included in every country’s agenda as they propel toward their digital future.