Covid’s Impact on Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity: Stormshield’s 2020 Barometer

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In 2020, 70% of French decision-makers believed their organization had made progress in digital transformation. Such was the conclusion drawn by the Stormshield 2020 barometer. Its title: “Corporate digital transformation: putting maturity to the test?”

Carried out between July and September 2020, this study questioned 217 French decision-makers from IT and business departments—from all sectors and sizes of companies—on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on their digital transformation and cybersecurity projects.

Let’s focus on the key figures and findings of the study.

The impact of Covid-19 on the digital transformation of companies

Since 2020, companies have been placing more and more importance on digital transformation—especially the implementation of digital tools—which has significantly increased compared to 2019. 

Thus, the digital transformation projects most deployed in 2020 involved:

  1. office automation tools
  2. collaborative work tools
  3. unified communications services
The most widely-deployed digital transformation projects in 2020

Faced with the rise of remote work, some tools could even be adopted in the longer term. This is notably the case for videoconferencing and electronic signature software.

Also read:  18 Must-Have Solutions for Switching to Remote Working

Companies are no longer the only ones investing in this digital transformation. In 2020, 37% of public administration respondents say they have deployed collaborative tools as a matter of urgency to deal with the crisis. However, one out of every three officers believes that the public sector is still lagging behind businesses.

Also read: Digital Transformation: No, Public Services Aren’t Lagging Behind!

Is this acceleration of digital technology solely due to the health crisis? Yes and no: it all depends on sectors and organizations. 

In public administration, health and social action, the Covid crisis has clearly advanced digital transformation projects. However, 57% of the decision-makers surveyed believe that this progress is not due to the health crisis, showing that some companies were already well-equipped before March 2020.

Despite these mixed views, 61% of respondents agree that current events have changed their perception of the importance of digital transformation. This awareness is certainly linked to the messages passed on by the IT department when teleworking was introduced.

Cybersecurity: businesses put to the test

Cyberattacks on the rise

Cyberattacks have increased significantly this year, due in particular to the increase in remote work and online shopping. Thus, according to the ANSSI, the number of ransomwares doubled between 2019 and 2020. 

Phishing remains the most common attack. Most often carried out by email, this scam attempt consists in extracting personal data by pretending to be an organization or a company you know. Today, this type of attack is becoming more and more sophisticated, for example by adapting to current events. 

“Between the fancy statistics on the progress of the epidemic, the fake online stores for masks or the scams on the sale of vaccines, everyone had to be particularly vigilant with their inbox!” says Charles Blanc-Rolin, RSSI & DPO of GHT Cantal.

Other cyber challenges

In addition to cyberattacks, there are other cyber threats that businesses are concerned about. For 56% of respondents, employee mobility is the main challenge to anticipate in coming years. They also expect to have to address several other issues, such as:

  • the rapid evolution of information systems
  • the lack of user awareness
  • the deployment of collaborative tools
  • the cloud
  • regulations
  • artificial intelligence
The main cybersecurity challenges of companies in the year to come

New digital tools to be secured

Despite the rise in cyberattacks, one out of every four organizations was forced to make concessions in cybersecurity to ensure business continuity during the crisis.

For example, some companies have turned to a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, which allows employees to use their own devices to work—a practice that is not without risks. 

Indeed, 36% of the decision-makers surveyed believe that employees’ personal terminals are the most vulnerable elements in terms of cybersecurity, ahead of mobile devices and document sharing services.

The most vulnerable elements of cybersecurity, according to Stormshield's 2020 digital transformation barometer

Solutions deployed to secure digital transformation

Cyber risk prevention tools

Faced with the increase in cyber threats, companies are equipping themselves accordingly on the tools side:

  • More than half of all companies now use a Web Application Firewall (WAF) solution.
  • More than half rely on file encryption.
  • 39% have implemented email encryption.
  • Almost 90% have deployed an antivirus, antispam or anti-phishing solution, network protection, or VPN.
Corporate cybersecurity solutions implemented by companies

In addition, other solutions are being considered or deployed in the companies surveyed:

  • the “Zero Trust” approach, which consists in not trusting any default user and verifying the identity of each one before granting access to company data
  • two-factor authentication, a security method that verifies the user’s identity in two steps
  • data loss prevention (DLP), which prevents unauthorized users from sharing sensitive or confidential information outside the network 

Also read: Deloitte: 9 Technology Trends for 2021

Actions implemented to guarantee IT security

Several initiatives have also been put in place to improve cybersecurity within companies: 

  • 68% of the companies surveyed have set up IT security awareness actions.
  • Almost 50% are considering setting up or already have a Security Operations Center (SOC), i.e. a division responsible for ensuring the company’s security.
  • 46% of respondents use the services of consulting firms specializing in cybersecurity.
  • Nearly one-third of respondents plan to rethink desktop updating processes
  • One out of five companies plans to integrate security as soon as they start thinking about new digital transformation projects.

Also read: Hybrid Work: How to Secure Company and Employee Data?

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In 2020, widespread remote work has made many companies aware of the importance of digital transformation. Faced with the increase in cyberattacks linked to Covid-19, companies are implementing more and more solutions and initiatives to secure their digital projects. The focus is on user awareness, but also on securing the company’s cloud data, for example with the adoption of two-factor authentication or the Zero Trust model.

Want to find out more about the cybersecurity challenges and the key actions to be implemented in 2021 to counter cyber threats? Read our white paper “CIOs: navigating the new challenges of hybrid work”:

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In our white paper “CIOs: Navigating the New Challenges of Hybrid Work”, you’ll discover: the 3 major challenges for CIOs in the era of hybrid work, concrete advice on how to accelerate your digital transformation, secure your workstations and improve the employee experience, as well as testimonials from 10 CIOs working in companies, administrations and associations.

Author: Emmanuelle Abensur

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