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What Are the Biggest Cybersecurity Challenges Caused by Covid-19?

Cybersecurity and Covid-19 - Billington Cybersecurity Summit Focus on Cyber Challenges caused by Covid-19

This week Salt Communications attended the 11th Billington Cybersecurity Summit which this year was broadcasted to a virtual, global audience. For the first time the attendees were able to network digitally with senior level speakers, sponsors and attendees representing government, industry and academia.

On day one of the event the topic was ‘Cybersecurity pathways beyond the pandemic’. The event began with a discussion about Cybersecurity priorities with Maria Roat, Deputy Federal CIO.

The discussion touched upon a number of key points with the speakers initially discussing how both the pandemic and a significant cyber attack can be global in nature, requiring that nations simultaneously look inward to manage a crisis and work across borders to contain its spread. Additionally, both the COVID-19 pandemic and a significant cyber attack require a whole-of-nation response effort and are likely to challenge existing incident response management tactics. Furthermore they discussed when no immediate vaccines are available and treatments are slow to emerge; such circumstances will then place a premium on building systems that are agile. These systems will go a long way to enable coordination across the private sector and Government. They concluded that with efficient research and planning, prevention is much cheaper and pre-established relationships are far more effective than a strategy based solely on detection and response.

Throughout the first day of the summit a key trend was highlighted by many senior speakers; the need to digitise critical services and do so securely. The pandemic has developed new requirements that show the value of essential digitisation services. During the outbreak, Americans were increasingly dependent on programmes of federal and state assistance whose existing networks were strained to the brink of failure. This led many discussions around the overall importance of the U.S Government leading the push for greater secure communications and a more reliable cyber ecosystem given the increase in working from home.

The need for social isolation has driven innovation into how we operate, as companies and governments alike are looking for ways to keep their operations continuous. The effect was a major move to remote working, forcing businesses to rely on in-house computing devices while their workers log in from home. Personal devices are also now a crucial part of the enterprise infrastructure. As a growing number of workers operate from home, communication and protection between organisations is less efficient and less capable of protecting devices and networks from being compromised. Businesses are much more reliant on cyber infrastructure protection, but have less power to mitigate the vulnerabilities and risks that may be introduced. With many great topics throughout the first day of the agenda, the overall attitude is to combat opportunistic cybercrime and build a capacity to deal with this.

“There’s still a gap between classified and commercial information but we had a chance to rethink the way that we work and where we work. If we can work remotely right now, then we don’t need to hire all of our employees from the national capital region. We probably don’t need to require all of our employees to have top secret clearances if they’re not accessing top secret information.” said Bryan Ware, Assistant Director, Cybersecurity, CISA, DHS.

Day two of the summit was based on lessons learned from COVID-19 and applying them to transform warfighting; with many respected speakers such as The Honorable Dana Deasy, Chief Information Officer, Department of Defense. A big topic on day two was how physical warfare is merging into an act of cyber warfare.

Technology will begin to play a major role transforming warfighting. There will be rapid shifts away from physical attributes of war and into the cyber realm as we head further into 2020. Many speakers stated we will see more use of Quantum ComputingAI and autonomous flying machines. The world of war is transforming, in certain cases governments responding to physical attacks with cyber attacks.

There were many topics to choose from ranging from the 2020 elections, Cybersecurity Leadership, enhancing diversity and inclusion in the Cybersecurity workforce and emerging cyber threats. Overall, Salt Communications has walked away with a fresh insight into what the rest of 2020 brings for those in the Cybersecurity industry and what we must continue to do to combat the challenges we all face.

If you have any questions about this article or to avail of a free trial of Salt Communications’ award winning secure communications platform, please contact us on and we’d be happy to assist you in any way.

About Salt Communications

Salt Communications is a multi-award winning cyber security company providing a fully enterprise-managed software solution giving absolute privacy in mobile communications. It is easy to deploy and uses multi-layered encryption techniques to meet the highest of security standards. Salt Communications offers ‘Peace of Mind’ for Organisations who value their privacy, by giving them complete control and secure communications, to protect their trusted relationships and stay safe. Salt Communications is headquartered in Belfast, N. Ireland, for more information visit our website.

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