We find ourselves faced with a rapidly changing crisis that affects the world at large. The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has brought about extreme measures in the majority of countries around the globe. Governments are declaring a state of emergency and enforcing strict rules, such as social distancing, quarantine, and restricted travel to preserve public health.
As preventive measures are enforced, businesses find themselves in a situation they have never seen before – mandatory remote work on a large scale. With millions of people all over the country being forced to work from home, we find ourselves reliant on computing technology and online resources to keep business running as usual.
The Information Age has enabled users to communicate, collaborate, organize projects, and share relevant information (in real time) with those who need it during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. While computer science and technology advances are what companies rely on to keep afloat, the issue of adequately handling technological changes and securing data seems to be a growing concern.
In a normal setting, systems and networks follow specific protocol and security measures to ensure data is protected and available only to the right people. That is not the case with remote workers. With people spread around different geographic locations, they have to make do with the networks and digital tools available to them. In order to ensure steady workflow and secure data, particularly with cloud computing, we are going to look at the role of information technology in data management and cybersecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data Management During the Crisis
Data management is the practice of data collection, storage, organization, maintenance, and usage. Data management’s goal is to assist organizations and their stakeholders in efficiently making important decisions with the data that is collected and created and taking actions that will benefit the company. This makes data management necessary for any business looking to stay on top of business processes during the crisis. Business continuity plans will require up-to-date data to create an effective plan of action. IT provides the networks, systems, and tools that businesses can use to acquire, measure, communicate, and utilize data effectively during the pandemic.
Benefits of Digital Data Management
Utilizing information and communications technologies the right way can help improve your data management system when people work from home. Properly structuring and using data during the crisis can help the company in multiple ways:
- Improved Organization and Consistency – As people find themselves working remotely from different locations, working together on projects becomes more difficult. Even with the possibility of virtual communication, valuable information might not get passed on to the right people. With a data management plan in place, employees and managers will monitor, track, and use essential data whenever they need it. This also ensures that employees operate at a steady pace, without bottlenecks.
- Increased Productivity – If companies changed their business models to set up a data management system and structure, it will ensure a positive impact on the organization’s workflow. People will be able to track tasks. This, in turn, will keep employees motivated and on track to complete their tasks.
- Better Collaboration and Communication – A data management strategy allows more in-depth insight into business projects, operations, and efficiency. This enables managers and employees to have important information, timelines, and progress reports on tasks. With such valuable information, communication, and collaboration, these tasks become more efficient and productive.
- Quick and More Informed Decision Making – With better communication, organization, and productivity, shot callers will have accurate information when considering business decisions. This means that they will be in a better position to make decisions that will positively affect the business.
Dangers of Poor Data Management
Ignoring the importance of data management technology during a time like this can put your company at risk of:
- Conflicting Information – One of the biggest dangers of poor data management is its effect on the information. Poorly managed data can result in confusion, chaos, and uncertainty. Different individuals or departments might carry on work using different data, which will eventually result in conflicting information. This explains why many organizations are turning to automation, which is powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning to ensure computing and information accuracy.
- Lower Productivity – As people become less organized, the level of productivity is sure to take a hit. Projects get delayed, and work begins to back up. This can have a negative effect on businesses.
- Missed Opportunities – With lower productivity and uncertain information, leaders will not be in a position to take advantage of potential opportunities. Even worse, they could dedicate their resources, time, and energy to pursuing goals based on incorrect information.
As employees are spread out and working from different locations, the information provided must be organized and protected. Having a good data management strategy and system in place is critical to ensure efficient data processing. After all, when information influences company actions, it is important that all data collected, created, and distributed follows a complex system that ensures any amount of data collected is accurate, consistent, and secure, from its starting point to its final destination. However, remote work also brings about the issue of security.
Security During the Crisis
The shift to working from home brings about a number of challenges from a cybersecurity perspective. As people begin carrying out their duties from home, the question arises if they are adequately prepared to protect their computer system, mobile devices, and confidential company data from cybersecurity threats. Businesses tend to have IT teams that organize and create a secure network that offers adequate data protection for all employees.
With an increase in working from home and utilizing the internet access remote employees have available, the number of cyber-attacks has gone up. Cybercriminals are trying to take advantage of the situation and capitalize on people working from home and accessing networks through personal computers. There has been a rise in certain types of attacks during the pandemic. These are some important threats that employees need to be aware of:
Malware is unwanted software that is installed onto systems without knowledge or consent. Once in place, it can attach itself to legitimate code and multiply. This can result in poor performance and data corruption. Malware seeks to trick people into clicking links or opening files that will enable them to get into the system and install harmful software. Once malware enters a system, it can cause chaos, take over your device, spy on activity, and steal personal data from devices or networks. Two types of malware that remote workers need to be aware of are:
- Ransomware – One of the biggest threats during the COVID-19 pandemic is ransomware. This type of malware aims to gain access to encrypt data, making it useless until a ransom is paid. Attackers usually demand payment through cryptocurrency, making tracking and retrieving money difficult. Cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of businesses and organizations that have employees in remote areas.
- Spyware – Spyware is another threat that companies need to watch out for during the pandemic. This type of malware aims to infiltrate devices, after which it can track and sell data, capture bank or credit card information, and steal personal information. It does this by monitoring activity, recording logins and passwords, and spying on sensitive information. With so many potential holes in security with remote teams, employees and businesses are at greater risk.
Another type of attack that has been on the rise is phishing. This is the practice of sending fraudulent emails that appear to come from reputable sources. The goal of these attacks is to get users to click on links or files to run malware. This can come through email or social media. During the COVID-19 pandemic, phishing attacks come in numerous forms.
- Information regarding COVID-19 – This can be information telling you that you are sick or someone you know is sick. It can also come in the form of a cure or important information regarding the virus.
- Stimulus checks – In addition to COVID-19 phishing attempts, they can also come as stimulus checks. Attackers know that there are many people who are in need of financial aid. They try to get access by creating fake emails that could appear real.
- People posing as team members – If cybercriminals are able to get some information about an organization, they can use that to present themselves as team members in an attempt to gain access to private networks and sensitive information.
With the potential of increased cyber attacks, it is vital that businesses leverage IT and cybersecurity education to protect themselves in these difficult times. In order to safely make use of internet resources, it is vital that we take precautionary measures. This includes working with certified and experienced IT professionals who know how to set up secure networks. In addition to that, it is vital to check employee networks’ level of security and what security measures they follow when connecting to the internet.
What This Shows Us
What these threats show us is that the digital age has provided us with a virtual world that brings multiple advantages, as well as threats to our digital health. While information science offers excellent frameworks and support for remote workers to stay productive during the coronavirus pandemic, changes in the way we conduct business on such a massive scale can have serious unanticipated implications from a data and security perspective. If you are interested in breaking into the world of IT, look into MyComputerCareer. We offer programs that prepare you for highly valued IT certificates for current and emerging technologies in computer science and information systems.