Keeping a secure and available online presence during a crisis

The continually escalating coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Australia means that many businesses either have already or soon will have to close their doors to customers in the physical world.

Customers will naturally gravitate towards businesses that can offer products and services reliably online. However, this could potentially put a significant strain on existing systems, so it’s important to have a security solution that can scale up quickly.

As limits are imposed on people’s ability to interact in person, a robust online presence becomes more crucial. Web applications are essential for this but internet-facing web applications do not enjoy the protection of traditional perimeter-based defences. Coping with the surge in traffic while providing reliable quality of service and security is a huge challenge for organisations.

Significant disruption is liable to occur at any time, so organisations need to be prepared to move to a predominantly-online presence. However, with limited resources and time to deploy additional complex environments, this could be easier said than done. While existing online shopfronts were originally set up to service a controlled subset of customers, today’s solution must support the entire customer base regardless of the devices they’re using.

Organisations need to implement a solution that can scale quickly and secure their web applications without slowing them down. With the increased importance of businesses’ online presence, downtime has become untenable. Keeping websites and applications up and running is crucial.

It’s likely that the coronavirus crisis will see cybercriminals jump at the opportunity to cause further disruption and damage by launching attacks on organisations’ websites. Being able to protect against those attacks while simultaneously dynamically increasing capacity for the potential surge in online customers will be instrumental in businesses’ ability to ride out the crisis and emerge safely on the other side.

Businesses should look for a solution that incorporates a web application firewall and machine learning for maximum protection. It should be fast to deploy, with IT teams able to spin up a scalable solution in less than two days and then pull it down again when demand reduces. This reduces ongoing costs.

Furthermore, organisations should look for a solution that can be 100 per cent virtual including sandboxing. This reduces capital expenditure requirements and ongoing maintenance costs.

While businesses are focusing on how to continue operating during this challenging time, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the chaos and attacking vulnerable organisations. It’s essential to act swiftly and decisively to protect the business with a security solution that can scale with the business’s needs and provide strong, reliable security posture. Once this is in place, businesses can then have peace of mind that they’ll be able to continue servicing customers online.

Jon McGettigan, Regional Director – Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, Fortinet