Saturday 11 July, 2020

AMCHAM T&T: Cybersecurity crucial to doing business during COVID-19

With many businesses adapting to remote working arrangements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new challenge has arisen for most companies – the protection of their digital assets.

The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) recently hosted a webinar on “Navigating The Pandemic: Cybersecurity” where it highlighted the need for companies to invest more around cybersecurity tools and policies to protect their digital assets and workforce in light of work arrangements as a result of the pandemic.

Senior Trade and Policy Specialist, Melissa Pierre stressed the importance of cybersecurity as she noted that the pandemic has created new opportunities for criminals to disrupt business.

She said: “We already know that opportunistic criminals and other malicious actors have been using the internet and other rapidly evolving technology such as apps and mobile smart devices to compromise an individual or company’s financial and digital assets.

Amidst a pandemic where social distancing, economic disruption and remote working have now become the norm – this has created the perfect setting for criminals to induce further shocks and disruptions to both our economic and health systems.” 

She said in the absence of an added layer of digital protection, hackers can take advantage a remote workforce, or an unsuspecting customer plugging in company credit card details or other important company information on an unsecured network.

Meanwhile, Vernon Jeffery, Chief Strategist at Readiness Associates which provides disaster and emergency preparedness services to healthcare organisations, agreed that the pandemic has created its own unique set of cybersecurity challenges with which businesses must be prepared to treat.

“Ultimately, to protect their teams of employees and company sensitive information, organisations should endeavour to implement a singular cybersecurity policy that will follow a person around wherever they go; on every device that they use, that will protect them from everything from malware to ransomware to nation-states, who are trying to steal their credentials, and as well can protect the company from bad behaviour if it should occur.”

Also at the webinar was Anthony Subero, Chief Risk and Compliance Officer at Hitachi who indicated that T&T will have to accelerate its digital transformation due to COVID-19.

Outlining the Transition and Transformation Tracks from the government appointed “Road to Recovery Committee’s” preliminary assessment report, Subero said: “If you look at the second block in both tracks, the digital transformation track plays a key enabling component to that road to the recovery strategy.”

He continued: “What that inter-connectivity and movement of data and storage of data mandates is the need for proper cybersecurity, but it also drives the conversation towards data privacy and protection of confidential data for your consumer.

Once you move into the Internet, you are open at two levels: one is for an increased number of attacks and as well as the ability to compromise your data or shut down their service. To mitigate these threats, you have to adopt more effective cybersecurity and privacy programs which are strongly embedded in the Enterprise Risk Management framework.”

His colleague, Executive Consultant, Daniel Gaudreau, highlighted the need for companies to evolve with their digital environment as the technology is evolving.

He also encouraged companies to build trust with consumers as they manage their digital transformation journey. 

Gaudreau said: “Cybersecurity and privacy need to be part of the basic requirements of any business that is moving forward to the digital transformation. If you are making use of technologies, you are making use of data and you need to make sure that protecting that information and privacy of your customers and employees are part of what would be considered on a day to day basis.”

AMCHAM T&T’s “Navigating The Pandemic: Cybersecurity” Webinar was designed to help companies adjust to the disruption caused to business by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The webinar, which is part of the business chamber’s Digital Transformation Series will continue over the next few weeks.

AMCHAM T&T extended thanks to Zia Patton, Partner at PwC for moderating the web event, as well as sponsors Republic Bank, PwC, Digicel and Trinidad Systems Limited (TSL) for their support to host the webinar.

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