Uncertainty should compel greater investment in cyber defences not less

Perhaps the ongoing pandemic and the havoc it is wreaking across economies and societies around the world has me a little skittish, but the revelations this week that Japanese car manufacturer Honda has been hit by a cyber attack made me hope this is not a precursor to significant difficulties for yet another global brand.

Socio-economic distractions being wrought by Coronavirus are emboldening threat actors to prey on averted attention on technologies, people, and processes to exploit digital systems

My mind was immediately cast to Travelex, the UK foreign currency exchange group, which in April announced it had placed itself up for sale off the back of an aggressive ransomware attack at the beginning of the year, and the commercial pain brought about by the effects of COVID-19. Sure, Travelex is a completely different type of business to Honda with different pressure points and business imperatives, though the underlying case for both organisations is that as seasoned corporate entities they should have understood the importance of mitigating reputational risk, and as such ought to have placed cyber resilience at the heart of their strategic priorities.

Honda is not currently offering a great deal of detail regarding the nature of  the cyber incident other than to say the company had experienced difficulties accessing servers, email and internal systems and that there was also an impact on production systems outside of Japan. The company said its “internal server” was attacked externally and a “virus” had spread.

The world has been turned upside down by Coronavirus. The lack of visibility over when a semblance of normality may return has households, organisations, and governments trying desperately to contain or reduce costs as they wait for calmer days. Cyber security and resilience is one area that should not fall victim to this logic. The socio-economic distractions being wrought by the pandemic are emboldening threat actors to prey on averted attention on technologies, people, and processes to exploit digital systems.

At this time of global crisis, we need to be doubling up on cyber resilience efforts or at the very least maintaining them at pre-pandemic levels rather than slashing budgets, tools, or manpower in this critical area. Some of the examples of cyber breach out there, compounded by unrelenting economic pressures of COVID-19, are pointing to incidents not just impacting organisations’ bottom-lines, but potentially risking companies’ very existence.


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