Stronger cybersecurity urged as pandemic forces people to surrender more personal data
Individuals will have to surrender more personal data as an offshoot of the coronavirus pandemic in the coming year and companies and governments will have to redouble their efforts to protect that information, according to a global cybersecurity firm.
In particular, Palo Alto Networks said efforts to improve contact tracing—necessary to rein in the spread of COVID-19—would take on greater importance in 2021 as the private and public sectors strive to reopen economies and national borders.
“Despite the data privacy conversation circulating for several years—with wariness around the use of data by some big tech companies and general data protection regulation compliance continuing to be a challenge for companies—it is contact tracing that has really made individuals sit up and take notice of data privacy,” the company said.
Rigorous contact tracing and timely access to accurate and complete data has proven to be a key factor in helping to “flatten the curve” in many East Asian countries that were quick to turn to such digital tools. Aside from public sector initiatives led by health authorities, private sector initiatives are also being rolled out to support such efforts, with the most notable being the Apple-Google Exposure Notification system, which some countries have even started to use.
“More countries are establishing travel bubbles and reciprocal green lanes in a bid to revive the travel and hospitality sector,” Palo Alto Networks said. “In order for such arrangements to be efficient and safe for all travelers, personal data will need to be shared across borders with the right security controls and accompanied by transparent communication about how such data will be handled and stored.”
With this critical need to move data between government agencies and enterprises such as airlines, airports and hotels, the debate around how data are stored, accessed and used will only increase in 2021, particularly as individuals are now far more conscious of their personal data being shared.
Private firms and governments will have to invest more to protect the integrity of personal data they collect.
“Cybersecurity has been the top prerogative for boardroom leaders as companies across industries were forced to digitally transform in 2020,” the company said. “With multiple cyberattack reports uncovered throughout the year, it is no doubt that these attacks, due to the impact of accelerated progression to digitalization, will continue to advance and leave many companies vulnerable. It is pivotal for businesses to identify the countermeasures they must take to navigate the new normal in the longer term.”
Palo Alto Networks said the business landscape would also be altered by the increasing availability of faster 5G telecommunications networks next year, which, in turn, would help make working from home “safer and smarter.”
“If 2020 has taught enterprises anything, it’s that remote working on a company-wide scale is possible,” the company said. “With people at the center of everything, 2021 now offers an opportunity for businesses to chart a new way forward and ask how they can deliver work to their people.” INQ
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