I woke up this morning to read the news that two RSA conference attendees carried the COVID-19 virus.
First and foremost, I wish them well. Right away I thought about all the companies that cancelled their participation in RSAC and how they foresaw the inevitable: that someone was likely to get sick among the thousands of professionals attending.
And yet many people, myself included, still decided to show up. Seems like we security professionals are always at the forefront, fighting vulnerabilities, hackers, attacks, and always still standing. And although it has already been 12 days since my return, I decided to work from home today, for the sake of my coworkers’ safety, even though they had already been with me in the office for the last 10 days.
We, as a tech community, are fortunate to be working in such a connected era. By early afternoon in my first day of remote work, I had already joined a Zoom conference, a Webex discussion, a Google Hangouts meeting, a demo over Skype, and a WhatsApp call. I won’t even mention the phone. Isn’t it great when you can choose from such a large arsenal of handy tools?
The same is true in IT and security, where hundreds of thousands of professionals are working from home to maintain business as usual. They have multiple tools alerting them to vulnerabilities no matter where they’re working, but in this case, it’s not always an advantage. While it’s true that many of the systems can be controlled from afar, too many of those IT processes still require manual handshakes.
We have multiple options for completing those manual tasks, but automation is the one alternative we should be constantly seeking. It takes care of the tasks that humans can’t when they work remotely. It makes the entire process more efficient. Especially at a time when so many of us are working from home, the ability to hand off tasks to automation leaves one less thing to worry about.
Patching is one example. The latest Patch Tuesday from Microsoft was one of the largest ever patch cycles to date, and one that hit when many of the people who need to perform that complex work are at home. Remote work, along with the sheer volume of vulnerabilities to remediate, makes automation an essential tool in maintaining cyber hygiene and operational compliance, especially when so many workers are now dealing with the challenges of working from home.
COVID-19 will have wide-reaching effects on work, school, travel, and cybersecurity, both in the near and long term. It’s forcing us to shift our current ways of doing things, to be more creative and resilient. And ultimately it will push the entire industry further toward automation as another way to ensure our employees, our customers, and our businesses are secure. Stay safe and stay healthy.