COVID-19: WEF says cybersecurity measures no longer theoretical 'nice-to-haves' for businesses

Last Updated 26 May 2020, 10:57 IST

With COVID-19 pandemic having forced individuals, organisations and the global economy to become more reliant on the internet and digital ways of doing business, an urgent action plan is required to deal with possible cyber-attacks and data frauds, a WEF study said on Tuesday.

"COVID-19 is confronting every organisation with limits of its ability to learn and change in an environment where speed is everything and where delaying key decisions can have a dramatic impact on business operations," the WEF said.

With the instantaneous shift to the digital realm, cyber resilience and cybersecurity are no longer theoretical nice-to-haves, thus making companies and countries painfully conscious of the fragility of the critical systems upon which they vitally depend and that must be secure and resilient, it added.

The World Economic Forum (WEF), a Geneva-based international organisation for public private partnership, said COVID-19 has accelerated the global transition to a new reality of unprecedented digital dependency, heightened cyber risks and vulnerabilities.

According to the WEF's 'COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications' study, cyberattacks and data fraud are considered the most likely technological risks of COVID-19 for the world.

The WEF said it has developed five principles to support business leaders reinforce the cyber resilience of their organisations in an unforeseen and instantaneous new reality, as all leaders and organisations have been forced to adapt business models faster than anyone was prepared for, to ensure existential survival.

To bolster cyber resilience and secure operations, these principles urge the leaders to foster a culture of cyber resilience; focus on protecting the organisation's critical assets and services; balance risk-informed decisions during the crisis and beyond; update and practice response and business continuity plans as the business transitions to the 'new normal'; and strengthen ecosystem-wide collaboration.

These principles provide a framework for responsible decision-making and action in this crucial period to help organisations balance short-term goals with medium- to longer-term imperatives, the WEF said.

While these principles might have been known before the pandemic, their relevance, benefits and imperatives are underscored by the new reality, its pace and scale.

(Published 26 May 2020, 10:57 IST)

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