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Smart investments, the new normal for cybersecurity solutions: Expert Panel

Cybersecurity solutions have become one of the focal points of boardroom discussions post the pandemic and smart investments that ensure employee productivity as well as fits the security needs of the business are the way forward in the new normal, a panel of experts has said.

These experts were speaking at The Economic Times & Quest presents The Evolving Challenge Webinar under the theme of cybersecurity in the new normal.

“First three months were tough where we had to manage whatever we could. There was no budget, we had to ensure employees could work from home without spending too much money. You have to make sure your endpoints were secured. We also had the challenge of understanding space and inventory as well when it comes to our IT assets,” Sumit Malhotra, CIO, Times Internet Ltd., said.

He explained that a few months post the pandemic, all the company’s applications followed a zero-trust protocol. “We have been able to make sure we are still leading the space we are in or even become better,” Malhotra said, adding that cybersecurity solutions should help businesses grow and not bring down productivity.

Speaking about zero-trust access (ZTA), Dhirendra Singh, Sales Head – North & East India, Quest, said that ZTA should be looked at like a philosophy.

“It is nothing but a philosophy, ensuring that right people have right solutions and access when they are trying to access data. The first thing that they have to follow is to automate the majority of the processes which they are doing manually,” Singh said, adding that identity management was one of the core threats in the new normal.

Explaining further, he said, “Identity threats is one of the fundamentals of giving the zero-trust access. It has to start from the active direction, and people lag in that. Second thing is that they have to automate password management solutions, where they have to ensure that company policies are being enforced in an effective manner.”

Singh also gave the example of how office collaboration applications such as MS Teams and Slack have skyrocketed which has led to an increase in threat vectors.

Another expert, Abhishek Bansal, Head Non-Financial Risk and Chief Information Security Office,
Max Life Insurance, explained that while he didn’t have budget constraints, he had to secure all his workloads regardless of where the data resided.

“One has to secure workloads on cloud and on prem workplaces. The security is to change with respect to changing behaviours. You may have that kind of controls. A hybrid working model is going to stay for long. There are questions that come in handy. You will require a balance in the productivity tools where you would want your employees to reap out the benefits from collaboration. The controls need to be more centric to the data packets and that’s where a slight change of approach is required with the final governance,” Bansal explained.

Burgess Cooper, Partner, Information & Cyber Security, Ernst & Young and Singh also spoke about the rising expectations of employees working from home. They said that employees would want to get their work done quickly and cybersecurity solutions shouldn’t create hurdles.

Incidentally, the onset of work from home protocols due to the incessant spread of the pandemic, India and Indian businesses have been victims of several cyberattacks. According to a report from Computer Emergency Response Team – India (CERT-IN), more than 1.16 million cyberattacks were reported in 2020, which was three times more than the total number reported in 2019 and 20 times more than the figure reported in 2016. This means an average of 3,100 cases were reported each day of the year.

Another independent report claims that attacks on mobile devices in India saw a jump of 865% between October 2020 and March 2021.

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