COVID-19 is the age of corporate cyber-attacks - opinion

Working from home in COVID-19 made companies' networks less secure, allowing cyberattackers to take advantage.

 FORMER PRIME minister Benjamin Netanyahu checks in with Israeli Cyber Energy Response Team as the Cyber Park in Beersheba in 2017. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
FORMER PRIME minister Benjamin Netanyahu checks in with Israeli Cyber Energy Response Team as the Cyber Park in Beersheba in 2017.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that many organizations had to get used to working remotely almost overnight. This was a dramatic about-face for many firms who had not previously desired to offer remote working or were not suitably configured to do so. Long gone is the era of cleanly segregated working environments, where official devices are the only ones allowed to connect to a company’s network. Now is the era of hybrid working, where many employees utilize a mix of official and personal devices across a shared environment from anywhere in the world.

The dramatic pivot to remote working was further compounded by ever-increasing levels of cyberattacks against this newly connected world and its many weak points. We often don’t hear about these incidents since companies are hesitant to discuss breaches in their security. They are reluctant to share awareness of their failures. Between 2019 and 2020 ransomware attacks rose by 62% worldwide, and by 158% in North America respectively.

The incentive for cybercriminals and undertaking ransomware attacks, in particular, keeps growing since businesses are more willing to pay ransoms than ever before. According to New York Magazine, more than half of ransomware victims in 2021 paid up to gain access to their own information. However, only a quarter of these firms regained full access. The only way to stop these vicious attacks is to prevent them with strong cybersecurity.

With such challenges comes opportunity. Now, more than ever, the importance of protecting your organization from a cyberattack is clear. The ever-increasing level of cyber-attacks has led to a rise in valuation of many cybersecurity companies like Armis.

CEO and co-founder of Armis Security. (Elad Malka)CEO and co-founder of Armis Security. (Elad Malka)

The acute need for cyber protection is reflected in the fast growth in the number of unicorns in Israel. We were in the right place at the right time, offering smart and unique aid where it was much needed to help organizations face these new challenges. This is an area in which Israel is uniquely positioned to capitalize.

Working from home (credit: PXHERE)Working from home (credit: PXHERE)

Our solution, for example, provides complete visibility to all devices and assets, including IoT (Internet of Things), medical devices, industrial controllers, IP (Internet Protocol) cameras and many more – allowing enterprises to embrace IoT as part of their digital transformation, with full visibility and security overall assets. We analyze and classify these devices to identify risks or potential cyber-attacks and provide essentially a real-time live “map” of the organization.

Another advantage for the cybersecurity market from this “new normal,” is the legitimacy for global companies to have their headquarters based outside the US. What used to be a barrier for Israeli companies has dissolved and been replaced by the possibility of remote management and building a significant business from Israel. This is a great development and opportunity for our local market.

These major changes fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, are powering the evolution of our “Start-Up Nation” to becoming a “Scale-Up Nation.” We’ve always had an advantage in technological innovations, but we didn’t have the business know-how, and geography was a barrier. In the past few years, the hi-tech industry in Israel has matured. The coveted goal of an exit has been replaced by the desire to build a big, strong and long-lasting organization.

There are now second-and third-time founders and a rich ecosystem of seasoned venture capital investors. The people who were once young entrepreneurs making their first steps in hi-tech have reached their objectives and earned enough to set new long-term goals. We have become experienced professionals who now know how to build a company.

If in the past we used to develop features of cybersecurity that could help in specific cases, today we develop platforms that can support countless users. This was exactly my path. I gained my experience at the first start-up I worked for – Adallom. That was where I started out as one of the first employees, learned the ropes and thankfully got to enjoy the fruits of the company getting acquired by Microsoft. This invaluable experience is what allowed me to build Armis, which is now a multibillion-dollar company.

As a proud member of the Scale-Up Nation, I know we’re here to stay and that’s even more exciting than being a start-up. I am excited to see our nation continue to grow and evolve. Now is the time for us to take advantage of the unique opportunities being presented to our Scale-Up Nation.

The writer is the co-founder and CEO of Armis Security, a cybersecurity company that provides an agentless device security platform.

Yevgeny Dibrov will present at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. To watch live on October 12 (or see the recording anytime thereafter), click here.