Cyber Security in a COVID-19 World

By Gary R. Pannone December 9, 2020COVID-19

A recently published article by the Harvard Law School Forum provides valuable insight to the multiple challenges being faced due to the pandemic. Although businesses have readily discussed the actions to be taken in the event of a pandemic, the scope of challenges faced resulting from the COVID-19 attack is unprecedented. As governing boards have discussed and analyzed the appropriate response to cyber issues, they are ongoing and creating stress from an operational and governance perspective.

The most significant change that has occurred during the past nine months is the new normal of remote working that has created a cultural upheaval to the workplace, in addition to placing a strain on the networks that support the activity. Many companies had a small percentage of their staff and managers working remotely; however, the surge in positive cases has significantly increased this percentage to maintain a safe environment.

Businesses have struggled to move the employees from an in-office environment to a virtual world. The potential for security breaches has dramatically increased due to employees working from home on shared computers vs. using a dedicated computer or laptop for business only that has the appropriate firewalls and other network protection that prevents cyberattacks.

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte & Touche LLP, the amount of cyber attacks during the pandemic have increased significantly and the types of attacks include phishing, online scams and disruptive malware, including ransomware and malicious domains. Budget cuts severely limit closely-held businesses from investing in the resources that are necessary to protect against these attacks.

In order for the challenges presented to companies and their boards to be addressed, it will be necessary for extreme vigilance to be the theme at meetings, and for boards to establish oversight committees with the expertise to develop mitigation plans that have built-in flexibility and efficiency to allow for rapid response should a breach occur. If you would like to learn more about data protection, cyber security strategies or other business matters, please contact Attorney Pannone at 401-824-5100 or email gpannone@pldolaw.com.

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Gary R. Pannone is the Managing Principal of Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O'Gara LLC and has been representing closely held business owners for over thirty years. He is an experienced business lawyer specializing in the areas of business formations, corporate restructuring, mergers, acquisitions and corporate compliance. His practice includes the representation of nonprofit organizations with respect to consolidations, mergers and acquisitions. In addition to his role as Managing Principal of the firm, Attorney Pannone serves as the team leader for the Health Care Law, Corporate & Business Law and Nonprofit Organizations teams. Attorney Pannone serves on several boards and governance committees of nonprofit organizations. He is a former Town Solicitor and has served as special counsel to several municipalities. He is also a frequent lecturer and author in the areas of health care law, corporate compliance, board governance and best practices. Prior to the founding of Pannone Lopes Devereaux & O’Gara LLC, Attorney Pannone served as the managing partner of the Providence office of Holland & Knight LLP. He is a prominent member of the legal community and was honored by his peers and judges with the AV Preeminent rating from Martindale Hubbell, which is the highest rating based on both legal ability and ethics. In addition, he has been recognized by his peers as a leading lawyer in the areas of business law and corporate compliance by Best Lawyers® in America, Chambers USA, Super Lawyers and Corporate Counsel. For the past four years, Attorney Pannone was named Rhode Island’s “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in his practice areas and he was selected as a 2020 Excellence in the Law Hall of Fame honoree by Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly. He is also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the nation’s leading research institute for the study of law. Attorney Pannone received his J.D. from Suffolk Law School after earning his undergraduate degree in Finance and Accounting from the University Of Notre Dame. He is admitted to practice law in Rhode Island and the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. To contact Attorney Pannone, call 401-824-5100 or email gpannone@pldolaw.com.

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