The chief scientist of the World Health Organization, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, said in an interview that “data is key to the control of this pandemic”. Based on data, daily graphs of the spread of Covid-19 across countries are being meticulously organized. These have helped us understand the comparative effects of the strategies used by countries to contain the spread of the virus. The public’s desire for information has sparked the creation of open-source data sets and visualizations that have paved the way for what is being called pandemic analysis.
Against this backdrop, data has become more important than ever. In addition to how data is helping tackle the present problem, it is presenting an opportunity for many companies to build competencies they did not invest before: to be more digital and data-driven. With the increased reliance on data comes the need for data security.
Why is data important?
Data is no longer restricted to companies in the technology sector. Businesses from various sectors, such as tourism, life insurance, manufacturing, and product management, are using data to thrive and accelerate growth in the changing socio-economic set-up. A survey by Deloitte notes that 49 per cent of respondents make a better decision with the help of analytics. 16 per cent mentioned that it enables better strategic initiatives and 10 per cent stated that data analytics have helped them to improve relationships with customers and stakeholders.
Better performance: Businesses with a website, a social media presence or a one that accepts electronic payments are collecting data about consumers, users’ habits, web traffic, and more. All this data is filled with the potential to learn newer insights about customer retention, marketing plans, media relations and sales.
Improve processes: Data can help companies understand and improve business processes in order to reduce time and money. Data can highlight which marketing channels are doing better, so companies can focus on the ones that offer the greatest ROI. This would allow businesses to budget accordingly and spend less on advertising.
Customer relations: Data can help in uncovering insights that will guide organizations into the future. It can help in understanding the pain points of customers so product messaging can be tailored accordingly. It can also improve a company’s narrative and assist in streamlining marketing campaigns.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the information technology on which companies have long depended has become even more vital. Overnight, the demands on a secure digital infrastructure have skyrocketed. Joint research by security firm Tripwire and Dimensional Research reveals that around 94% of security and IT professionals globally are concerned about their organization’s cybersecurity. Security and risk management leaders now must safeguard their companies on a massive scale.
Cybercriminals are using increased digital footprints to find loopholes and vulnerabilities. They are launching COVID-19-themed attacks through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments to steal data and credentials. Attackers are creating spurious websites or taking over vulnerable ones. Fake websites have been soliciting donations for daily wage earners through email links. Remote working tools have also witnessed hacking, as is the case with Zoom.
In this environment, cybersecurity professionals need to aggressively confront the risks. For starters, they need to quickly make their company’s remote workers aware of possible scams and stay alert. With remote working becoming the new normal, companies need to ramp up efforts to train employees about security threats and ways of tackling them.
The need of the hour is also a legal framework for data protection. As remote working and virtual collaborations become the new normal post-COVID-19, the reliance on data will only go up. There is now a need for a holistic governmental framework that protects consumers and companies from possible cases of fraud. The setting up of a National Centre of Excellence by DSCI in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is one such initiative. The center aims to accelerate and transform India into a hub for cybersecurity innovation.
Post COVID-19, digitization of companies is going to accelerate dramatically. As organizations speed up their digital transformation, security leaders will have to support these initiatives by leveraging security models that take care of data provisioning, activation, tracking, compliance, and program management. This will secure organizations and their workers from ever-increasing cyber-attacks and potential cyber-threats.