Oct 2020

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Cyber security and the modern workplace

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Aug 2020

Regulating the data-driven, modernised work environment will enhance technical standards, and improve cyber security awareness and measures.
Justin Whelan, Partner, HFW
Amid the ongoing and unfolding widespread reports of economic contraction, increased unemployment and continuing general commercial uncertainty, a key development arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the acceleration of remote working, and its immediate and long-term consequential benefits and challenges.
As the footprint of physical workplaces is reduced and reconfigured to adapt to social distancing, so a brave new normal is emerging which is seeing an increase in technological investment. Cyber security and data privacy issues were extensively prevalent prior to the lockdown. With the advance of virtual working, digitalisation is now very much at the forefront of effective risk management for an ever-growing number of businesses.    
Improved digital efficacy and successful, remote-based, business continuity are some of the pluses to have emerged from the pandemic, as are the opportunities afforded by increased work flexibility. A better work-life balance, the absence of a commute, and a resulting improved productivity and performance are some of the benefits employees attribute to working from home. Lower business overheads, developed cyber risk mitigation, and reduced carbon footprints are further positives that will come out of what was an initial forced remote work system, and now appears to be a future mainstay. 
Time management and maintaining a focused and structured day can be testing, as can the absence of social interaction and the morphing of professional work life with private home life. Indeed, how legal and insurance industry professionals come to adapt to building new relationships, and growing business in an escalating virtual marketplace with diminishing human interaction, is likely to present a challenge. That challenge is likely to be further exacerbated by the anticipated forthcoming recession, and its resulting increased price-sensitive competition.
Cyber security
From a regulatory perspective, it is fair to expect ever more developments in the fields of data privacy and employment, so as to accommodate the transformational face of a progressively data-based and automated commercial environment. Again, there will be resultant benefits and challenges. Regulating the data-driven, modernised work environment will enhance technical standards, and improve cyber security awareness and measures. Challenges will arise around implementation and compliance.
From an insurance perspective, ransomware and data extortion are evolving simultaneously with the development of remote working, both in terms of sophistication and in the targeting of specific corporations. In adapting in the longer term, insurers may expect to see less and less demand for traditional property and operational-related insurance products, and more and more demand for cyber/data-related products.
Notwithstanding the above challenges, necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. As a growing global population adapts to virtual working and businesses adapt to online models, what is now being termed as the ‘new normal’ will no doubt settle into something that simply becomes the ‘normal’ way in which we live and work. Remote working will emerge from the pandemic as a standard. It is doubtful however that it will remove entirely the fundamental tenets on which business is based, in particular the need for human interaction. Ultimately, what will emerge is likely to be a blend of the world as we knew it before lockdown together with an adapted world borne out of the pandemic. M 
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