Navigating Volatility on the Road to Recovery

Smart business leaders are future-focused, and it was evident in our coalition roundtable discussions that leaders are thinking about the post-pandemic business environment. Ireland is an open economy with a strong track record of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and there was consensus that continuing with this strategy is critical. Equally important is the strength and growth potential of Ireland’s indigenous businesses. The priority areas that emerged on the topic of strengthening business resilience that were addressed during the roundtable discussion are set out below:

Cyber Security

The overnight switch to remote working meant that operational processes have changed, and most IT infrastructure models have had to transform, which may have resulted in additional security and reliability risks. Many organisations were unaware of these risks and the vulnerabilities within the organisation, but the pandemic has helped to highlight these issues.

Aon’s Cyber Security teams have observed a significant increase in attempted malicious third-party attacks on IT systems since moving to remote working, which has been confirmed by some of the Coalition participants:

50% of respondents answered Yes or Work in Progress when asked if their IT infrastructure model changed with the move to remote working.

50% of respondents said that operational processes had been altered due to a change from their original risk appetite and controls.

Return To Work Assessments Survey

Comprehensive security risk assessments to evaluate vulnerabilities and determine defence measures and readiness to respond will help improve an organisation’s cyber resilience.

Every employee, from the CEO to the new hire, is vulnerable to a cyber breach. Attackers’ methods are always evolving in order to target and tailor scams to specific victims. Unfortunately, many breaches result from a lack of employee awareness of the IT security risks that their actions online, on social media, at work and at home can cause.

Frequent employee training is vital to highlight and, where required, change online behaviours. Providing education on everything from password security, data protection, cyber-attacks, data encryption and how to report an incident, to name but a few, is worthwhile. A cyber breach could interrupt business operations, supply chains, products, and beyond. Best practice advice is to consider methods to mitigate the risks and potential financial impact of a cyber incident.

Risks, such as cyber attacks, will become more apparent as companies work in virtual environments and rely heavily on digital infrastructure. The actions organisations take during the recover stage can help define an effective response to both the current pandemic crisis and future shocks1.

1 Aon’s Reprioritising Risk & Resilience for a Post-COVID-19 Future Report