Mr Michael Kwofie, Country Information Security Risk Officer, Standard Chartered Bank, has encouraged organisations to embrace the practice of working from home as it has come to stay.
He said the new way of life, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic was proving to be effective and that it was time institutions moved away from working in “brick-and-mortar” environment to working online to “survive.”
“I see schools running online sessions now. I’m not sure even if you sent a proposal to them in January they would consider it or they would have been interested; but they are doing it today,” he said.
Mr Kwofie made the observation at a forum on the role of businesses and industry players in promoting cybersecurity amid COVID-19 pandemic.
He said indications were that, more and more people would continue to work remotely even after the spread of the disease had subsided, hence the need for all to adopt the “new normal.”
Mr Kwofie said the “new normal” called for the digitalisation of the work environment with proper planning to mitigate threats and maximise benefits.
He said organisations, therefore, needed to revisit the adhoc tactical decisions they made at the onset of COVID-19 and refine them into better strategic policies that could stand the test of time.
Mr Kwofie also urged organisations to engage their third parties in capacity building on how to secure organisational data.
That, he said was necessary because information security was comprehensive and went beyond just Information Technology (IT).
“There is that driver who drives you to work and listens to your conversations. There is that kitchen staff who sits in the canteen, and people come there—some even take their laptops there to go and work, people leave their devices there and all that. So everybody needs to understand the importance and how information and data flow must be secured,” Mr Kwofie said.
Mr Eric Akwei, Director of Planning and Design, Surfline Communications Limited, said with people connecting to organisational platforms with their personal devices to work from home, called for robust security systems to protect organisations from cyber harm.
He expressed concern about the lackadaisical attitude some businesses had with regard to network security, saying such businesses tended to downplay the protective measures they needed to take.
“It is important that as we go digital, we have to invest a lot in security, because the price you have to pay when you have an attack far superseded what you had invested in terms of infrastructure,” he said.
Mr Kofi Asafu-Aidoo, Ghana Domain Name Registry, said though many organisations had gone online, there were a lot more that were yet to do same.
He underscored the need for private and government support to enable such organisations to also go digital.
“If all the banks have money, they are able to implement all the cybersecurity structures to protect themselves; but if the small company out there can be hacked to collect data about people, then all the big walls of the banks are useless. So there should be a way of sharing resources so that even the smaller institutions are still protected.”
He said one major challenge businesses were going to face as a result of working from home, was the shift in the work paradigm, where people would not have to report to work at fixed times.
Mr Asafu-Aidoo said organisations, therefore, needed proper monitoring mechanisms to ensure that people actually worked when at home.
He said the upsurge of online activity had led to increased adoption of cloud centres for data storage. He indicated, however, that the storage centres were predominantly situated outside Ghana, and could pose challenge in cases, where the foreign laws on data storage differed from those of Ghana.
Mr Amadu-Aidoo, thus advocated the siting of more local data storage centres in the country. He said people should shun the attitude that digital literacy was for only IT personnel and embrace it as part of everyone’s normal life.
“Computers are part of our lives. Virtual work is going to be part of our lives. So digital literacy training across professions, across demographics, across gender groups, across age groups is going to be a challenge—it’s going to be an ongoing task that needs to be worked on continuously,” he added.