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COVID-19 and data issues: recent developments

Richard Watson-Bruhn, financial services expert at PA Consulting, comments on data protection protocols.

The article notes that firms will be dependent on dispersed staff using digital platforms for the duration and should reappraise their data protection protocols accordingly. The data environment in which firms and employees operate is extremely hostile, especially for homeworkers. All kinds of cyber-attack, from phishing scams to information theft malware, have jumped this year. As just one example, many homeworkers use a remote desktop protocol (RDP) which lets a laptop act like a central system's terminal. Cyber-security firm Kaspersky found that attacks trying to break in via the RDP backdoor rose 400% in March and April alone.

Another cyber crime surge likely

This is unlikely to abate soon but, rather like an organic virus, may well evolve to circumvent defences. A recent Interpol report on COVID-19's impact on cyber crime predicted that criminals will continue to carry out phishing campaigns and coronavirus-themed scams and that "business email compromise" schemes will surge due to the economic downturn.

Richard says that as employees have new responsibilities for managing breach risks, employers should prepare them to meet that challenge. "Firms need to give [employees] the right knowledge to identify risks and help them to set up their home environment securely. That means support on wifi set-up and secure workspaces, and advice on phishing risk avoidance. They need to provide the right secure tools such as collaboration environments, secured cloud access and VPN [virtual private network] arrangements."

The article goes on to say that data protection and handling is also relevant to the sad prospect of redundancies in the sector.

Richard adds: "There should be clarity about the appropriate use of sensitive information backed up by modern anonymisation and tokenisation technologies to limit employees' access to only the information they need."

Click here to access the full Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence article

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