March 2020 seems like a lifetime ago, but unbelievably it has only been six months. Thinking back to the beginning of the year and the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the development of “new normals”, it all seems to have started with the small things.
We watched as companies around the world established new supply chains for the basic everyday essentials to our homes. Next came more complex, and often stress-laden challenges, at both the large corporate scale as well as at home in individual family units.
And no matter to whom I have spoken during the last seven months, everyone has their own “COVID-19” navigational story. Whilst some have been positive, unfortunately many that I have personally heard have been tragic, as undoubtedly, we all have by now. During these conversations I have found one constant: each of these stories contains an intrinsic motivational message, because as humans we tend to find a way to adapt when faced with incredible challenges.
From a security perspective, I believe our global community will emerge from this pandemic stronger and more united having gained new opportunities over our shared adversaries. This is because in a lot of ways, our “new normal” has always been “the normal” way of working for threat actors since the beginning of hacking.
At Secureworks we have our eyes on the threat actors around the world and one thing we know is threat actors do not work in offices. They do not waste hours commuting, and they do not sacrifice hours, days, even weeks travelling through airports, train stations and sleeping in hotels for business purposes. They live at work and are always on, focused and attacking. They spend energy as efficiently as possible because, like the old saying goes, time is stolen IP.
And one fact is clear: we should not squander time either. As a cybersecurity industry and I include the customers who rely on these highly technical solutions, we must adjust our thinking about everything we do, to the new realities all around us. We must adapt and move at speed.
The customers I speak with have provided me with inspiration almost daily during these past months. Organizations representing all industries, all sizes, all verticals, and all geographies have had to pivot or reinvent their business models. This change forced rapid decision-making on IT investments and deployment strategies to enable a remote and virtual work environment for their employees, partners, and customers. Thoughtful heavy analysis processes were replaced with gut instinct and iterative contingency plans.
With those directives in mind, as a security provider, we quickly realized we also had to transform to accommodate our customers’ accelerated technology plans. We had to find the balance between this more agile way of working and continuing to protect the customers we serve from emerging cybersecurity threats, while keeping everyone on our own teams protected from the COVID-19 virus.
In response, we moved our entire global workforce to a 100 percent remote working arrangement. We converted a once ‘on-site only’ response and testing services to virtual engagements models. Formal Executive Briefing Sessions at our headquarters became online virtual meetings. We also found that we had more mindshare working on a challenge because customers and prospects could invite more of their staff into the conversation, since travel time and budget constraints were not an issue.
As a result, I believe the Secureworks team as well as our customers and prospects are more connected than ever, because much like threat actors, we are all working on the same virtual playing field.
So perhaps a global security community working virtually together is the silver-lining of this pandemic for our industry. Virtual working certainly does not replace tried-and-true defenses like technology innovation, skilled humans, and threat intelligence. However, replicating a threat actor’s work environment might be the missing ingredient for us all to truly outpace and outmaneuver our adversaries on a more consistent and sustained level.
For Secureworks, our current reality is now virtual, and I believe that will bring about a new, innovative era for cybersecurity. I look forward to seeing what the next seven months and beyond brings to us all.