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Data security in the new business world

960 640 Guest Blog

By Andrea Babbs, Country Manager and Head of Sales for VIPRE Security Limited

With many businesses having to overhaul their operations overnight to enable their staff to work from home due to Covid-19, maintaining as close to business as usual was an absolute priority. But in the rush to implement collaboration tools to get employees up and running for business continuity, cyber security was pushed further down the list of priorities, potentially putting organisational data at significant risk. 

Many businesses may have already had some level of cyber security protection in place, but the shift in working environments and practices means that the emphasis on data security must be reinforced. Some IT security leaders have seen a 30,000% increase in Covid-19 themed attacks, as cyber-criminals continue to use the current global crisis as an opportunity to target potentially vulnerable end-user systems. With a de-centralised workforce, there is an even greater need for employees to take responsibility for keeping sensitive company information secure, and not just rely on security software to assume the role of data guardian. 

Harder, better, faster

While the transition to remote and flexible working has been implemented gradually across many organisations over the years, the overnight change triggered by government protocol has had a dramatic impact on employee working practices. With no peer review or easy access to conversational questions to quickly ask: “does this email look strange to you?”, employees are potentially at increased risk of falling foul of phishing scams. 

Add to this the heightened pressures of staff feeling the need to work harder, faster, for longer and demonstrate how much they are actually working when at home, it’s no surprise that mistakes are made. For example, responding to emails immediately rather than taking the time to stop and think whether the email is actually genuine, or giving out sensitive information over the phone to be seen as helpful during a difficult and stressful time. 

Reinforcing responsibility

With tools to support employees that reinforce the need to think before they press send on an email, and consider whether it is authentic or not, employees can assume some of the responsibility for keeping data secure. And as 53% of data breaches are classified as insider, clearly the workforce has a critical role to play in an organisation’s cyber defence strategy. 

Businesses can support employees to avoid commonly made mistakes such as forgetting to attach a document when you wrote that you had, or sending misaddressed emails or attaching incorrect information by deploying technology such as VIPRE’s Safe Send which provides a simple safety check. This provides the user with a prompt prior to any email being sent, reminding employees to double check and confirm the addressee and what has been attached. Parameters can also be set to add certain domains to an allow list, or the solution can be deployed on a department or user basis. For example, financial data is highly sensitive, so may require confirmation for all emails, but another department may only need checks on external emails. 

Certain keywords can also be defined, so when those keywords are identified within an email – an unreleased new product name, for example – an additional confirmation is prompted before the email is sent, allowing for that all important double check that the right person is being sent the right information. 

Technology provides a vital piece of the cyber security puzzle through high quality layered protection that covers email security, web and end-point protection. As the threat landscape is arguably evolving at a faster rate than ever before, coupled with the workplace shifting to a new normal – these tools have never been more critical.

Focusing on the user is also key, educating them and empowering them to take some responsibility for data security, supported by innovative software – not just relying on the IT department. Those that adopt such an approach will be far more successful than those that rely on technology in isolation. 

The race to normality

In the rush to keep ‘business as usual’ during such uncertain times, businesses may have inadvertently made their security infrastructure vulnerable to data breach – be that from external threats or accidental insider data leakage. As we slowly make the transition from home working to moving back to the office, or transforming to a hybrid workforce, security needs to be reinforced yet again, with a combination of reminders, prompts and continuous training. 

Employees are a vital tool in a business’ arsenal, so they must be regularly trained and reminded about how they can stay one step ahead of cyber threats. But it’s human nature to make mistakes and as such, employees must be appropriately supported with intuitive technology that can spot anomalies, errors and factors that fall outside of set parameters to highlight where potential threats, scams and faults are about to take place.

Security industry ‘will shift to service-based solutionS post-pandemic’

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The security industry has ‘tremendous’ investment opportunities despite the economic slowdown witnessed due to COVID-19 and under an ‘aspirational’ forecast scenario is likely to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3% post-pandemic to hit revenue of $140.60 billion by 2025.

That’s according to respected research outfit Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis, Post-Pandemic Growth Opportunity in the Global Security Industry, in which its slightly more cautious ‘conservative’ forecast scenario predicts that the industry will generate $131.01 billion between 2019 and 2025, at a CAGR of 3.1%.

In the pre-COVID-19 forecast, the industry was estimated to increase at a CAGR of 7.1%, generating revenue of $164.97 billion over the forecast period. 

“COVID-19 will cause a brief slowdown in the security market after almost a decade of uninhibited progress,” said Danielle VanZandt, Aerospace, Defense & Security Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. “Additionally, while some security sectors may find themselves experiencing a slower recovery than others, much of the industry will witness a shift to more service-based solution offerings after years of hesitance by customers to adopt these solutions.”

“The key security markets such as disaster management, banking and finance, and airport security will recover at a different pace, and the time taken to return to pre-crisis spending levels will also vary significantly. Markets that will record higher-than-average CAGRs during the recovery period include ports (4.5%), disaster management (4.0%), first responders (4.0%), and mass transit (4.0%).”

Despite a marginal slowdown expected in 2020 and 2021, Forrester says strong demand-side trends will present immense development potential for security market participants, including:-

  • Digitalization priorities: Remote/cloud-connected access to security systems and monitoring tools will witness a drastic rise in demand as manned guarding will become extremely limited due to stay-at-home orders issued by state or federal governments, and likely not recover once those orders expire.
  • Emphasis on contactless technologies: In the post-pandemic period, contactless technologies such as biometrics, remote access and authentication, and multi-use analytics solutions will attract investments.
  • Plug-and-play surveillance: Customer willingness to deploy plug-and-play surveillance equipment over permanent system additions due to cost-effectiveness will offer vendors repeat business opportunities.   
  • Sensors-to-action: Vendors must prioritize the development/enhancement of data analytics and sensor networks’ capabilities to provide increased value to customers without having to purchase new solutions or equipment.

Post-Pandemic Growth Opportunity in the Global Security Industry is the latest addition to Frost & Sullivan’s Aerospace, Defense & Security research and analyses available through the Frost & Sullivan Leadership Council, which helps organizations identify a continuous flow of growth opportunities to succeed in an unpredictable future.

Why autonomous drones are now crucial to business continuity

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By Illy Gruber, Vice President of Marketing at Percepto

For companies that remain active and those that have temporarily shut down in light of the Coronavirus crisis, autonomous technology is playing a significant and growing role in maintaining business continuity.

Business continuity refers to how organizations can maintain or resume business functions quickly in the face of major disruptions – like, you guessed it, a pandemic. These plans, which companies spend years developing and tweaking, generally contain specific procedures and instructions that organizations need to follow as regards to infrastructure, maintenance, security, business partners, human resources, and more.

Until now, most organizations had created business continuity plans – and shelved them. Now, all of a sudden, we’re seeing the majority of SMEs, SMBs and enterprises actually implement such plans. The theory looks much different in practice, and I’m sure that companies will yet be significantly revising their plans when life returns to whatever the new normal looks like.

At Percepto, we’re seeing more and more of our customers and prospective customers turning to autonomous drones and other remote autonomous and robotic solutions to ensure business continuity. In fact, some of our customers have actually defined their autonomous drone systems as critical assets that must be kept operational under their business continuity plans.

Here’s how we’re seeing companies use autonomous drones to facilitate business continuity in the face of the Coronavirus crisis.

Security

We have a number of large industrial clients that have been forced to suspend operations owing to the pandemic. Yet at the same time, these companies own large facilities containing valuable assets that need to be actively secured – operational or not.

These companies are using autonomous drones to maintain the same high level of facility security as previously, with far less manpower. This is important not only from a worker safety point of view, but also (regrettably) owing to the massive layoffs many companies are experiencing.

Elsewhere, a large wholesale chain is using our drone technology to more tightly secure stockpiled inventory in the face of surging demand, and amid concerns about civil unrest.

Maintenance

Large industrial and critical infrastructure facilities require massive ongoing maintenance. Whether this maintenance is intended to keep facilities operational (in the case of critical infrastructure) or ensure that they can quickly spin back up after the crisis (in the case of non-essential industry) – ongoing maintenance remains mission-critical.

By way of example, some of the world’s largest mining concerns halted production – notably Peru and Chile’s copper mines, which account together for some 12% of global copper production. These companies have a highly distributed and massive geographic presence, with multiple remote sites packed with complex refining infrastructure that needs ongoing monitoring and at least a minimal level of maintenance. Even in normal times, effective preventative maintenance is a challenge. And when manpower is nearly non-existent owing to governmental restrictions?

We’re seeing the same trend in critical infrastructure – water, powerportsoil & gas, and numerous other sectors. Workers are unable to get to work owing to travel restrictions or illness – yet electricity, water, goods and oil need to keep flowing, especially with large portions of the population stuck at home. Our autonomous drones are facilitating ongoing maintenance and operations for such large scale, critical infrastructure sites.

The Bottom Line

Business continuity is not just a matter of profit these days. In many sectors – both critical infrastructure and commercial – it’s a matter of life and death. We’re seeing an uptick in usage of autonomous drones, both in volume and variety of missions, to facilitate business continuity. And as this wave of COVID-19 subsides, and companies prepare for a possible second wave or future, similar crisis – autonomous drones will be part of more and more contingency plans.

Coronavirus: Guaranteed funding needed for security training providers

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Calls have been made for the government to protect funding for independent training providers during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Apprentice trainers to the fire and security sector, Skills for Security, follows guidance released by the Department for Education (DfE) which states that policy “does not allow payment for services in advance of delivery”, which will mean that funding for apprenticeships cannot be made until the training has taken place.

Skills for Security, which operates under the British Security Industry Association, believes the omission of support from the DfE for apprenticeships and other skills training is a ‘complete turnaround’ after the Secretary of State guaranteed funding support for mainstream further education provision. The latest guidance excludes any independent training providers who deliver adult education, apprenticeships and other forms of training, although colleges will continue to receive guaranteed funding even though they are technically independent providers.

Skills for Security says there is concern that anyone providing this type of education is in danger of going out of business in the likelihood of a dramatic fall in attendance or the inability for apprentices to attend online training if their firm is providing key worker services and the demand on the apprentices’ time means there are unable to participate with the new online model.

Skills for Security are therefore calling for the Government to consider:

• All independent training provider contracts should be paid on profile whatever the current performance and levy apprenticeships paid based on the prior six months delivery

• If funding is maintained, providers will commit to not furlough staff relating to delivery thus saving the Treasury a significant amount of money.  

• Guarantee the next month’s funding to allow time to sort through the details and how the model might work.

David Scott, Managing Director, Skills for Security, said: “We are incredibly concerned that this omission of financial support will have a dramatic effect on our business as a leading provider of fire and security apprenticeships in our sector. Although we have had a 90% remote access participation for this week’s training, the following week at present is less than 50% and, based on the Government’s statement this will have a serious effect on our finances.

“If providers cease trading or furlough substantial numbers of staff then apprentices, learners and employers who want to continue training will lose their provider and many of these learners will be left with no support.  If we are unable to guarantee funding there is every chance the industry will lose capacity and increase levels of unemployed and a low possibility of upskilling those in the workplace.

“The lack of support from the DfE is not only going to affect our current financial and operational performance, but the long term effects may mean we will not be able to reach our full potential in ensuring the fire and security industry has appropriate number of apprentices trained. Before this impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the security industry reported a skills shortage of 30,000 engineers needed to service customer requirements. Skills for Security significant expansion in its training resources and provision ensured we can meet the increase in demand for apprenticeship training nationally.”

School Security

BSIA pressures government over key worker status

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has called on the Government to clarify the status of its members in light of the possibility of a lockdown and the closure of UK schools.

BSIA members cover a wide range of security services, from manpower and key holding services, security guarding personnel, cash couriers, technology centre monitoring and alarm critical management, fire and systems category 1 response, CCTV operators and security systems installation and operators.

It says all of these roles contribute to the safe and secure day to day running of British business as well as public spaces and institutions. BSIA member companies members employ a significant number of personnel in these critical roles and the Association believes these roles fall within the ‘critical workers’ classification.

The BSIA is therefore calling first for clarification on the following:

  • Whether workers who have school aged children in mainstream education from security services such as cash couriers and ATM providers, security guarding companies, security systems and CCTV operators can be classed as critical workers and therefore able to operate on a ‘business as usual’ case – meaning their key workers are exempt from their children being sent home.
  • Whether security companies who provide services such as cash couriers and ATM providers, security guarding companies, security systems and CCTV operators can be classed as critical services under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and be exempt from any relevant restrictions placed upon transport and travelling, office working and property guarding, remotely and physically.

Mike Reddington, Chief Executive, BSIA, said: “Our members provide security services critical to the UK infrastructure on a day to day basis, and in the current climate, these services become even more essential. It is vital that these organisations continue to have access to their critical teams and infrastructure to support the wider variety of clients, including the Police, schools, banks, supermarkets, pharmacies, and critical supply chains.

“We are therefore calling on the Government to urgently clarify the status of our industry members as critical services and the status of their employees as critical workers.”

Autonomous technology can mitigate the Business security impact of Coronavirus

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By Ariel Avitan, Co-Founder & Chief Commercial Officer at Percepto

The coronavirus has exposed the soft underbelly of critical infrastructure and industrial sites worldwide – workforce availability. As more and more companies implement business continuity plans to deal with the outbreak, fewer and fewer employees are able to fully function. When facilities don’t know who can and will show up for work, both planning and operations are seriously impeded. In Western Australia, for example, the coronavirus is potentially affecting some 60,000 fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers at remote mine sites and onshore and offshore oil and gas plants.

And this challenge is compounded by a flagging demand for commodities – oil, natural gas, ore, and other resources – as global industries and economies slow down or even grind to a halt. Given the ongoing price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia and the resulting price drops – the oil industry is particularly hard-hit, with companies bracing for lower revenues, diminished investment, and even large-scale layoffs.

Thus, even as companies are unable to produce at full capacity, they are also unable to sell at full capacity – leading many to take a much closer look at current and future operational expenses and efficiency.

This is leading many companies to rethink the role that autonomous technology – and specifically autonomous drones – can and should be playing in their operations.

Autonomous Drones: A Quarantine-Proof Team Member

Large industrial sites are high-value assets that require constant maintenance and monitoring – independent of both production volumes and market conditions. Even when production is slowed or stopped, and when maintenance personnel are unable to function or even show up at work – critical components still need to be closely monitored, security perimeters need to be maintained, and scheduled maintenance needs to be conducted. The alternative to such monitoring and maintenance can be not only costly but also deadly.

Autonomous drones are an essential part of the contingency plans that support business continuity. Drones are always available, even if operators are under quarantine, and can help alleviate the challenges associated with volatile market trends and workforce availability. 

Multi-mission autonomous drones can conduct security, safety and inspection missions – and be quickly and flexibly re-tasked to meet changing operational demands. This makes them a force multiplier – since a single person operating autonomous drones can replace multiple security, safety and inspection employees. 

Moreover, autonomous drones can be controlled remotely, from anywhere in the world. This means that – as long as companies have suitable regulatory permits – employees can work from home, yet operate autonomous drones as if they were on site. 

Finally, even when a near-pandemic is not sweeping the globe – multi-mission, on-site autonomous drones have been proven to increase efficiency and reduce operational costs. By delivering consistent visual asset monitoring, autonomous drones provide true data-driven maintenance, which according to one study can result in up to 45% less downtime and up to 60% greater output or production. Without costly human pilots, autonomous drones provide a massive boost to existing efforts to improve preventative maintenance and reduce unexpected downtime – which can dramatically affect the bottom line in the best of times and help organizations better deal with the loss of revenues in the worst.

The Bottom Line

Although coronavirus will not, thankfully, be the new normal – it should be a business continuity wake up call. To adapt to the fluctuations of a truly global marketplace, companies need to prepare for all contingencies – including those where human employees cannot fulfill their roles on-site. Investment in autonomous technology today can help critical infrastructure and industrial companies smooth operational and financial bumps in the road both today and in the future.