For nearly a month now, millions of employees across the U.S. have been exclusively working from home in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. And it is undeniable that advancements in technology have allowed Americans to stay connected to family and friends during this pandemic and made it possible for many businesses to continue operating. Just think, even just one generation ago this would not have been possible.
But this quick expansion in remote work due to COVID-19 has also put pressure on Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), and their teams. They have the dual responsibility to support business continuity while also ensuring security through these difficult times. And from my perspective, this responsibility has never been more important.
After all, companies exist not only to create profit, but to serve society. Siemens, for example, has played an integral role in supporting America’s response to the pandemic, from supporting critical infrastructure to addressing urgent healthcare needs. As our CEO Barbara Humpton wrote, Siemens’ work right now is indeed essential, and “it can’t stop.”
Now, more than ever, IT teams must find secure ways to connect people to their jobs so they can help keep the lights on and keep our economy humming. But as we continue to expand the connections between work and home, we also expand the threat landscape for cyberattacks. Therefore, we must effectively mitigate these new risks to protect our personal and professional information from hackers who sense new opportunities.
Cybersecurity starts with creating and implementing smart cybersecurity policies and leveraging technology that help to enable and protect the business. Educating and empowering employees is essential. Its critical to provide employees the tools they need to recognize and respond to cyber threats, including equipping employees with up-to-date hardware and software that helps protect them from attacks. In the case of Siemens, all PCs and mobile or other managed devices are configured to automatically and securely connect to download the most recent security updates without needing to physically be in the office or connected to the Siemens Network, and Multifactor Authentication (MFA) is enabled for all important Siemens applications. Making these processes as seamless and transparent as possible is what enables us to focus on doing our part to keep the lights on.
Additionally, Siemens and 16 other global companies, through the Charter of Trust, recently released new recommendations to support cybersecurity for telework.
Technology is only as powerful as the people deploying and maintaining it. That is why Siemens will continue to invest in innovation and workforce development in the field of cybersecurity to protect people and infrastructure in an increasingly digital environment.
We believe that this push to remote work will accelerate the pace of digital transformation for many companies. For example, companies who were already planning to move to cloud systems may expedite those processes to allow even more employees to work remotely. That, hopefully, will help companies embrace the concept of security in the cloud.
We know that companies want to know where their data is physically and that it’s safe. Done correctly, data can be safer in the cloud because it’s in the hands of professionals who have the resources to provide leading security protection and evolve in response to a threat.
We also believe that for many in the manufacturing field, digitalization and automation will see renewed emphasis with wider adoption of industrial IoT and other future-facing technologies.
But through all these changes, it will be important for companies to bring their employees along for this digital journey. Technology will never replace people. It will help us expand what is humanly possible.