TECH TALK: It’s time to pull out those contingency plans, says BILL MAGEE
A commercially challenging and highly-volatile era of internet-based economic warfare is upon us, prompting Harvard Business Review (HBR) to call on companies, of all sizes, to re-evaluate their “cyber posture”.
HBR adds that the Russia-Ukraine conflict presents “perhaps the most acute cyber risk” western businesses have ever faced. No one is immune to the struggle even if their base is physically thousands of miles away from the action. It’s a tough call.
You’re managing to haul your cloud-based organisation into post-pandemic survival mode. Just about. Then you learn effects of the Russian invasion are already being felt online, where you conduct increasing amounts of your business dealings.
The net has been described as a limitless globally-connected playground with no boundaries. A place where it’s possible for your marketing director to virtually strike an overseas deal via a Zoom call or two. Have those days all but gone?
Several multinationals are already reporting a spike in cyber-intrusions. Add growing market disruption and breakdowns in supply chain linkages. All factors liable to have a ripple effect on smaller firms who’ve already struggled during the pandemic.
Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes has offered support and advice to Scottish businesses on how best to sever links with Russia. Government and economic agencies plan to use all available powers at their disposal to inhibit trade and investment activity there.
Big Tech business reaction to the Ukraine invasion has been swift and compelling. They’re apparently undeterred by a warning from the European Central Bank of cyber-attacks following sanctions or other related action deemed to be anti-Russian.
Google closed down operations including banning Russian state media outlets from running adverts on its platforms and blocked mobile apps connected to media outlets RT and Sputnik from its Play Store removing the publishers from Google News and YouTube across Europe.
Apple ceased product sales including the iPhone, although Russia claims it has put a stop on its app store, and Samsung, Russia’s top supplier of phones, has suspended shipments. Paypal cited “violent military aggression in Ukraine” then closed its services.
Spotify closed down its operation while Meta claims Russia has blocked Facebook after it removed pages and Instgram accounts belonging to RT and Sputnik. Meta has also dismantled social group media pages spreading disinformation in Ukraine.
Amazon is using its logistics connections to get supplies to the needy plus cybersecurity expertise for companies and governments as part of its support for Ukraine. Twitter has also pulled the two errant publisher accounts.
So has TikTok, whilst Snapchat has stopped all advertising running in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine plus pledging up to £12 million in humanitarian aid.
Microsoft removed RT news apps from its Windows app store and any state-sponsored RT and Sputnik content and adverts, Oracle suspended operations and Ericsson deliveries. So has SAP. Netflix has paused all future Russian projects and acquisitions.
Lead author of the HBR analysis Paul R. Kolbe, director at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, and a former CIA senior intelligence executive, says of the uncertainty ahead: time for commercial organisations to “pull out those contingency plans” to test if they are current, realistic and fit for purpose.
In a fivefold plan: closely examine your supply chain, actively engage peer networks, vendors and law enforcement around cyber intrusions, make sure IT teams work together on solutions, instil a security mindset in employees, and review business continuity plans.
Above all, make sure it is not your business that’s in the cyber firing line..