How will COVID-19 impact security in 2021?

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In the January 2021 edition of International Security Journal, 25 of the leading figures in security shared their predictions on what security professionals would be coming up against in 2021. The future impact of COVID-19 was mentioned by many of the influencers and below is a selection of their insights.

John Cowling, District Security Manager – ME and CIS at Caterpillar Inc

COVID is, as we have all seen and experienced, a disruptive element in our global economy with the impact felt across the Middle East region which has a large expatriate population, resulting in a reduction of large numbers of expatriate workforce across a number of countries. One of the challenges in organisations being ready and willing to scale up after they have scaled down, with the cost of scaling down coupled with reduced cash flow has exposed many cash-poor businesses pushing them towards (if not already into) crisis management mode.

Business travel is likely to remain for mission critical activities for the next 6-12 months, with employers recognising their duty of care for those employees who may test positive during their business trip and worse, what their options may be if they need hospitalisation or evacuation. Evacuation is often not an option, as many countries across the globe will not accept their nationals or non-nationals who have tested positive for COVID whilst in many regional countries the level of treatment at a local medical centre to treat COVID positive patients is lower than what is desired. Hence until COVID travel restrictions are lifted, we are unlikely to see major increases in regional business travel.

Philip Ingram MBE, former British Intelligence Officer

If we look at things that will cause us, human beings, most harm in 2021, then the pandemic will still likely come top, the SARS-Cov-2 virus won’t be going away anytime quickly even with mass vaccination, it’s something we will have to learn to live with. Next comes the impact of natural disasters increasingly influenced by climate change and then man-made disasters principally around conflict zones.

Suzanna Alsayed, Founder of Evolutz and Hilt International Security

The ultimate goal is to slowly resume ‘normal activity’ – whatever the new normal may be. I believe this will occur only at the end of 2021 or even early 2022. I am sure no one will want to be, for instance, the “first” trade show or conference open. The potential to have hundreds or thousands of COVID cases a few weeks later is not ideal. It will end up being a game of observation and a circumstantial gamble. The size of the 3rd wave and potential 4th wave of COVID will be the deciding factor. 

Matthew Porcelli, Private Security Manager

The next 12 months will usher in a parallel partnership between safety and security. From frontline security staff to the organisations and physical locations being protected, COVID-19 awareness and protocols (i.e. – social distancing and proper personal protective equipment), will be strictly enforced. Regardless of the asset under protection, COVID-19 protocols such as signage, arrow patterns on floors, hand sanitation stations and personal healthcare questionnaires, will not be far behind. With any disease or virus, COVID-19 will continue to evolve, as well as the countermeasures put in place to, “stop the spread”.

Leticia Gammill, President and Founder, WOMCY, LATAM Women in Cybersecurity

While we are not quite out of the pandemic yet, there is hope that we will soon go back to normal. Whatever normal may look like. However, in cybersecurity the normal means that we will be challenged by security threats as the workforce continues to spend time working remotely or in hybrid environments.

COVID-19 resurfaced hackers’ old tricks such as email spoofing, the Emotet and Nanocore RAT. Old wine in a new bottle and this may continue to happen with whatever topic of the day. Vaccine themed attacks have been the trend lately as well as the continued increase in ransomware attacks in healthcare and local government entities.

To read the complete January 2021 edition and catch up with the expert insights and opinions of the ISJ Influencers, please click here

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