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Business security during COVID-19

A news round-up

Physical security concerns ▾


David Ferbrache with KPMG

Restarting business with security in mind

by David Ferbrache

Health and safety — the first priority

The CISO should ensure they’re looped into conversations between Human Resources, Facilities, Legal and IT to guarantee adequate consideration is given to security and privacy in the new ‘return to the office’ environment. As well as providing input on the risks, the CISO should consider what practical guidance they could offer.

We’ve put together some questions to help you access the changes that need to be made…

  • How can the security team operate during the transition period and what processes and behaviors should be retained in the long term?
  • How can you enable the business to operate safely during this unusual operational phase? What risks are you willing to temporarily accept during the transition into the new normal?
  • As physical distancing requirements ease in the longer term, what are the new physical security and data protection considerations around the office?

A physically distanced security team

Security teams may have gotten used to working remotely, so what does their transition back into the office look like?

Supporting physical distancing requirements

As well as enabling the security team to work effectively in the new normal, it’s critical to support the business with privacy and security hygiene. How can you help them accommodate physical distancing measures?

Where organizations require workers to prove they have tested negative for COVID-19 before returning to the office — can arrangements be made for the security team to undergo such testing to smooth the transition?

New faces in the office

There may be many new faces in the office, with some staff turnover during the transition. What affect will this have on the ability to recognize intruders?

Restoring good practice

Staff returning to the office may be remiss of good office practices having spent months at home. Remind them of your company’s security and privacy hygiene procedures.

Thinking about the longer term

Your organization’s working arrangements may have permanently shifted.

[ … full content at source website; see External Resources below … ]


Jeffrey Wheatman

Where Do We Go From Here? Security and Risk in a COVID-19 World

by Jeffrey Wheatman, VP Analyst, Gartner

For years we’ve encouraged our security and risk leaders to prepare for disruption. We tell clients that regardless of what the catalyst was — a ransomware attack that takes down the business, an economic downturn — the time to plan for it was now. We did not anticipate that event being a global pandemic.

Security and risk leaders need to live in the new normal, but the questions they should be asking aren’t new. How do we protect the organization and facilitate business in this environment? How do we continue to operate in lockstep with executives? How do we do these things with less budget?

Secure the business.

The pandemic shifted consumer patterns, and with that, entire business models. For example, ordering groceries online or seeing a doctor via telehealth options were both options before, but COVID-19 increased their popularity substantially with no real clarity on whether we will ever return to pre-COVID formats. For many companies, nonexistent or limited use work-from-home technologies had to be launched — and secured — quickly. Now, security and risk management (SRM) needs to be thinking about what happens if those changes are permanent.

Prove the business case.

Historically, SRM leaders have not been able to communicate how security aligns with general business goals and how it benefits the business. But it is vital. By 2023, 30% of a CISO’s effectiveness will be directly measured on the ability to create value for the business. It’s critical that SRM leaders supply board-relevant and business-aligned content that is not hampered by overly technical references. Link (implicitly or explicitly) security and risk to business elements that the board members value.

Mind the budget.

SRM teams now have the added complexity of cost optimization and budget restrictions. SRM leaders are often not effective at connecting the dots between what they’re doing and how it aligns with the overall business goals. As a result, when organizations are looking to cut costs, SRM leaders are often not in a good position to defend their programs and justify expenses. But it’s vital that they do so, while acknowledging areas where expenses can be reduced via automation, machine learning and service providers.

Make sure to always ask yourself: If we’re forced to spend less, how do we make sure our businesses are still adequately protected? How do we make sure we’re still managing the risk appetite of the organization? How do we facilitate growth with less investment? Be prepared to defend your budget.

[ … full content at source website; see External Resources below … ]


Cyber-security concerns ▾


Leslie Hand, author

covid-19 retail industry impact

By Leslie Hand

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, there have been significant impacts to consumer behavior, product demand, and retail store, factory, and logistics services availability. Growth estimates for global retail in 2020 will be halved from pre-COVID-19 forecasts, overall, but impacts are uneven. Fashion, furniture, and electronics retailers will be hit hardest as consumers forego discretionary purchases in favor of stocking up on food and household supplies. Grocers win, but at a higher cost of operations, and will be highly motivated to be better prepared for the omni-channel shopper and responsiveness to demand shifts.

Retail technology investments will continue to reflect digital transformation efforts, as retailers reserve capital for technology investments by reducing spending on store openings and remodels. The ability to adapt responsively to product, workforce, partner, and operations needs will separate the winners and losers during the COVID-19 crisis. Some of the technology areas that will be in high demand are:

  • Commerce and self-serve technologies — the future store — online and offline)
  • Distributed order management and fulfillment
  • Supply chain collaboration and automation
  • AI-enabled personalized marketing and content management
  • Cloud-based hiring and workforce enablement
  • Network infrastructure, edge, and IoT for stores
  • Contactless payments

[ … full content at source website; see External Resources below … ]



Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

At the same time, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the retail sector is heterogeneous and depends on the combined effect of three characteristics. First, the effect of social distancing measures on individual retail businesses depends on whether they are deemed essential. On the one hand, most non-essential retail activities have been shut down; essential retail businesses, on the other hand, often operate in difficult conditions, including labour supply shortages, major disruptions in supply chains and working conditions, and sometimes large spikes in demand for specific items.

For example, in the United States, while the sales of clothing retailers dropped by 89.3% in April 2020 year-on-year, the sales of grocery stores increased by 13.2% according to the Census Bureau. In the EU, while the sales of non-food products dropped by 23.8% in April 2020 year-on-year, the sales of food, beverages and tobacco has increased by 1.2% according to Eurostat.

Data on Internet searches confirm diverging trends for essential and non-essential retail items in most OECD economies (Figure 1), in particular in countries that are most affected by the pandemic. Second, lockdowns and social distancing measures affect retailers with physical stores more than online retailers, and may ultimately accelerate the ongoing shift from brick-and-mortar to online retailing.

For example, in France, Nielsen reports that the market share of e-commerce rapidly increased to almost 10% of total consumer goods sales during the confinement period, compared to less than 6% in 2019. In the UK, the Office for National Statistics reports that the proportion of retail expenses spent online increased from 19.1% in April 2019 to 30.7% in April 2020, reaching a record high. Third, the sector is characterised by the coexistence of businesses with strikingly different abilities to weather the crisis, linked to different liquidity positions and access to outside finance.

[ … full content at source website; see External Resources below … ]

COVID-19 - Holder Total Security - Tulsa, Oklahoma


Consumers are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19, both from a health and economic perspective. People are responding in a variety of ways and have differing attitudes, behaviors and purchasing habits.

While purchases are currently centered on the most basic needs, people are shopping more consciously, buying local and are embracing digital commerce.

Consumers are responding to the crisis in a variety of ways. Some feel anxious and worried, fueling panic-buying of staples and hygiene products. At the other extreme, some consumers remain indifferent to the pandemic and are continuing their business as usual, despite recommendations from government and health professionals. CPG (consumer packages goods) companies will need to understand how their own consumers are reacting, and develop customized and personalized marketing strategies for each. The days of one-size-fits-all marketing are over.

Growing love for local
The desire to shop local is reflected in both the products consumer buy (e.g. locally sourced, artisanal) and the way they shop (e.g. supporting community stores). CPG brands will need to explore ways to connect locally – be it through highlighting local provenance, customizing for local needs or engaging in locally relevant ways.

Why, what and how consumers buy is changing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Consumer priorities have become centered on the most basic needs, sending demand for hygiene, cleaning and staples products soaring, while non-essential categories slump. The factors that influence brand decisions are also changing as a “buy local” trend accelerates. Digital commerce has also seen a boost as new consumers migrate online for grocery shopping – a rise that is likely to be sustained post-outbreak.

In times like these, our need for the basic necessities of life takes precedence. It comes as no surprise that personal health is the top priority for the consumers we surveyed, followed by the health of friends and family. Food and medical security, financial security and personal safety were other leading priorities.”

[ … full content at source website; see External Resources below … ]


McKinsey global view

“Consumer behaviors are settling into a new normal, as people everywhere learn to live with the reality of COVID-19 and as more countries reopen parts of their economies. Although the pandemic’s impact has varied across regions, five themes have become evident among consumers across the globe:

  • Shift to value and essentials
  • Flight to digital and omnichannel
  • Shock to loyalty
  • Health and “caring” economy
  • Homebody economy

[ … full content at source website; see External Resources below … ]


Reuters quotes …

As some state economies begin to reopen, we invited a group of small business experts to return for a follow-up discussion as part of our #AskReuters Twitter chat series. Below are edited highlights.

Why and how have small businesses been impacted by this pandemic?

“Many small businesses have been disproportionately impacted because they do not have the cash reserves and borrowing power to sustain their operations and their business models are not always designed to generate monthly recurring revenues.”
— Bob Chalfin, lecturer in management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Many small businesses are still waiting for federal aid. Any tips on cutting through red tape and staying afloat?

“I’m hearing that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan processing time has improved considerably recently, so there may be hope. Also consider local and state funding; many cities are offering cash grants and other support for local businesses.”
— Janet Alvarez, executive editor of Wise Bread

In addition to federal aid programs, what more can policymakers, financial institutions and even consumers do to respond to the needs of small businesses?

“If there was ever a time for rules to be broken, suspended, and rethought by lenders, landlords and credit agencies now is the time. See what all of those above can do to help.”
— Michael Sherrod, entrepreneur-in-residence at Texas Christian University Neeley School of Business

[ … full content at source website; see External Resources below … ]



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