Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of security has been completely transformed.
Security in times like these has become a daily necessity, a priority at all levels and in all sectors. If we want to maintain our productivity and grow our companies, industries, and the country, it is important that, in our role as business leaders, we ensure the security of our people, those who make up our social fabric and our workforce.
The first step, of course, is to focus on their physical security, which in today’s world means prioritizing their health. We are on the brink of reinventing the ways in which we interact, adopting the measures necessary for an eventual total return to face-to-face interactions, or opting for hybrid work models that offer employees the possibility to be less exposed to potential risks than in a regular everyday schedule.
In 2020, the pandemic took us by surprise and the adoption of public health measures was the result of a reaction, of the need to meet these changes head on. People and companies, in an act of resilience, readjusted their processes and made changes to physical and technological infrastructure to ensure their operations remained afloat during these unprecedented times.
This capacity for adaptation is what made the difference at companies that successfully transformed their processes and aligned production to meet demand within an ever-shifting panorama and to maintain market competitiveness. However, it also made it clear just how important the digital transformation of the industry is, in every productive sector in the country, not just those organizations in the tech sector.
After learning this important lesson, companies must remain one step ahead considering security plans within their mid- and long-term business strategies from now on.
We have all heard the phrase: every crisis represents an opportunity. And what appears to be a set phrase, one that is commonly used to motivate people, accurately describes the times we live in. We are now faced with the opportunity to accelerate digitalization within the business, government, and social ecosystems.
In 2020, only 23 percent (1) of Mexican companies had made any advances to digitalize their processes further, and the pandemic clearly highlighted this breach. Therefore, this represents a great opportunity to democratize this digital leap and drive the massification of these changes.
When talking about physical security and the importance of the digital transformation, we must talk about our own physical surroundings: our buildings and sites. Physical security within buildings is something that we, as leaders, normally must understand, in addition to being capable of responding to current needs.
Technology is a key ally in this process. Why? Because it can transform the spaces we live in, creating what we call “healthy buildings,” for example. A healthy building implies that its occupants are more secure and there is a greater level of trust when occupying the space.
Thanks to software solutions, we can monitor the quality of air conditioning in commercial and office settings; we can measure people’s body temperatures in spaces using non-invasive devices; we can also control access points and exits to avoid crowds.
This is possible through an accessible investment and systems that use existing infrastructure, such as cameras that have already been installed, increasing the level of control to guarantee the security of a building’s occupants. These solutions can be integrated into a robust software platform/building management system that can manage and optimize both the productivity and efficiency of our building or multi-sites, even contributing to a data-driven decision process on how to manage our sites efficiently.
On the other hand, the pandemic also has had an important impact on plants and field operations. To put things into perspective, there is a distinct call for accelerated innovation and development of tools to create solutions that are centered on data.
From artificial intelligence (AI) to the internet of things (IoT), wearable devices and cloud computing to predictive analytics, technology is paving the way to improve efficiency and productivity and more importantly, to reduce casualties with real-time and data-driven decisions through remote monitoring.
Digitalizing field operations provides a 15 percent accelerated resolution time related to plant incidents during operations by enabling operator rounds, creating a link with deskless teams that offers remote assistance in the field and access to on-demand contextual insights from multiple disconnected systems in a single application.
In addition to physical security, cybersecurity has become increasingly relevant. Ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the data used by corporations has become a fundamental issue, especially in an environment in which availability and network traffic needs have increased notably because of remote working.
In fact, cyberattacks in Latin America, according to a study published by Kaspersky (2), increased by 24 percent during the first eight months of 2021, with remote access and piracy being the main channels used to compromise people’s data. The analysis also shows that this has led to up to 35 attacks per second in the region, both against individual users and corporations. In Mexico, there are 299 attempts per minute, on average, through attacks made using malware.
Security breaches can come from common devices, such as USB memory sticks. The Industrial Cybersecurity USB Threat Report 2021 published by Honeywell, demonstrates that 79 percent of cyberthreats that stem from extractable devices have the potential to critically impact Operational Technology (OT) systems, a significant increase compared to the 59 percent recorded in 2020 and the 26 percent recorded in 2019, respectively.
This requires a change in the way in which we understand cybersecurity, and, as such, how we can tackle these growing challenges through, once again, technology. Organizations must adopt further measures to, in the future, face new cybersecurity risks, while adopting hybrid models through which they can maintain remote access to their networks daily.
The promise of the digital revolution has focused on, up until now, increasing productivity and driving greater efficiency in processes, which will lead to higher profit margins and greater competitive advantages for organizations.
However, in a post-pandemic reality, the real advantage of these major changes lies in the promise of the security it offers. The security of people and organizations will lead to a solid future and greater resilience to confront ever-changing scenarios.
It is time to get ahead of the curve.
- Interview with Macedo in Comercio Exterior magazine published by Bancomext. July-September 2020. https://www.revistacomercioexterior.com/articulo.php?id=1000&t=tecnologia-y-productividad-honeywell-la-pandemia-y-america-latina
- Kaspersky: Cyberattacks in Latin America have increased 24%
- Cybersecurity tactics for the coronavirus pandemic. McKinsey & Company
- Cybersecurity in a post-pandemic world. Cybernews