Connecting with experts across the state on the subject of “first the pandemic, then what,” I am struck that the first thing everyone mentions is the pandemic phenomenon of telecommuting and work-from-home.

From scientists at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, to engineers and software developers at startups like Ten-Nine Technologies, to Oklahoma-based experts in energy and finance, every business is adjusting to this mostly positive new configuration of work — and expecting it to endure.

When I asked Dr. Jerald Dawkins, founder and chief information security officer of True Digital Security in Tulsa, to weigh in on how the landscape of cybersecurity has changed and what he anticipates going forward, he, too, began with work-from-home.

“If you had told me that I wouldn’t be in the office and working from home as the world shut down, I would have been shocked,” Dr. Dawkins said. “The really surprising thing is how fragile society is and how resilient we can be. That we can execute business, have meetings, communicate and do our work — that’s all powered by technology. But we need to mitigate the new risks, too.”

Working from home has blown up old cybersecurity paradigms for many.

“There are essentially two types of businesses,” he said. “Companies that early on embraced migration to the cloud and technologies like touchless payment systems are excelling in the time of COVID-19. Others that kept classical data center structures and were anti-moving to the cloud or software as a service (SaaS), relying on people working in the office, will have to adjust.”

Pre-pandemic, many businesses’ model for cybersecurity was focused on physical locations with firewalls, cameras, and company-owned and controlled laptops. In those cases, solutions like network segmentation, firewalls, and MFA were really helpful. Not anymore. Endpoints are everywhere, and most of them sit outside of corporate security controls. Another complicating factor of that new endpoint is the explosion of the Internet of Things (IoT).

“Now that the cyberattack surface has expanded to include work-from-home, and, with more hackers having more time to hack, companies are shifting their focus from where the office is to the endpoint, which is where the employee is,” Dr. Dawkins said. “The back door is wide open. Everything from the thermostat to ROKU to refrigerators is on the internet. It is hard to break into corporate networks — they are fortresses, but hackers love people working from home.”

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