THE challenge of a national crisis caused by a global pandemic like COVID-19 demands serious and fresh skills, thinking, and coordination. For this reason, this week’s declaration of a State of Emergency and the associated powers to act in a timely manner are welcome signs, suggesting that we are seriously confronting the pandemic. The regular briefings of our health officials add further weight to our shared perspective on the challenge ahead, and our response effectiveness. Hopefully these measures can successfully prevent the spread of further contagion which has crippled our usual movements.
The threat posed by an unseen attacker arriving swiftly from across the globe, might sound like the stuff of nightmares, but is a regular aspect of the risk faced by ICT professionals who must secure their networks and computer systems every day. An invisible enemy that attacks and infects your systems represents a formidable threat, especially if tireless and motivated to do so.
During a virus or malware attack, a competent IT response may involve a physical disconnection of the network, to limit further spread of the virus and to safeguard other targets from being infected. From an ICT perspective, strong medicine is required when an attack is underway, to mount a strong defence and to prevent the entire network being compromised. This requires good judgment, some experience, and a cool head to think clearly in the midst of such a crisis, especially where downtime poses its own severe consequences. Power generation, industrial processes, healthcare settings, and banking systems are all likely targets which demand careful operation.
When the threat to be warded off is already within your perimeter, you have a serious breach and conditions that demand your best level of response. The nightmare scenario for ICT professionals — defending against a compromise from within — is a daunting task for those who must respond, and equally worrisome for those who rely on modern connected systems to always function. At a state level, that challenge is likely to be magnified. Let’s hope and pray that we do not experience the worst of the impact.
Dr Lyndell St Ville is an ICT Consultant with a background in environmental and resource science. His expertise includes systems analysis, planning, and capacity building. To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.