Industry reflection

Changes in behavior mean stricter cyber security requirements

Interview with security expert Leif Nixon

The coronavirus crisis has turned a lot of things upside down in society, and cyber criminals have not been slow to exploit the situation. According to several IT security companies, there are clear changes in how these kinds of attacks are carried out. Leif Nixon, security expert at Sectra Communications, explains how they approach threats and their work to increase cybersecurity.

Companies, government agencies and organizations have several security challenges when it comes to managing, storing and transferring information. Automated fire alarms are now connected to emergency services via the internet rather through the copper wires of the telephone company. Critical infrastructure is monitored through the everyday mobile network and more people are working from home via their standard internet connection. Threats are increasing and the disappearance of specialized communication channels is accelerating.

How has the pandemic affected companies’ security work?

It’s caught a lot of people by surprise in terms of digital security. There is a clear trend toward more organizations improving their preparedness for all kinds of threats, not just those linked to the spread of infection.

Leif Nixon, security expert at Sectra Communications

Sectra has been a market leader in cybersecurity since the 1990s and today works with major companies and government agencies like NATO and the Swedish Armed Forces. Sectra Communications’ products and services increase cybersecurity by protecting some of society’s most sensitive information and communications. This includes certified secure voice and data communications as well as security analysis and monitoring of critical IT systems for such functions as electricity and water supply.

“We supply products and services for secure communications and cybersecurity to major companies, civilian and military agencies and critical infrastructure operators. Our solutions protect important communications in more than half of the EU’s member states,” explains Leif Nixon, continuing: “We have unique expertise in data security and risk analysis that means our customers can take advantage of the fantastic technological opportunities available without increasing their exposure to risks.”

How can security be increased?

“Our customers generally have a high level of security competence, so for them it might not primarily be about increasing their security but increasing their flexibility without compromising on security. This has been particularly clear during the coronavirus crisis, when many customers needed to alter their ways of working, and we’ve been able to help them do so securely.”

As with all major events and catastrophes, there are fraudsters who are quick to exploit uncertainty and fear. Right now, cases of fraud are increasing significantly, both internationally and in Sweden. The ongoing coronavirus crisis is forcing many people to work from home in isolation, which affects the patterns of our lives. In the 2018 study ‘The Swedes and the Internet,’ 68% answered that they work at home via the internet to varying degrees, a figure that has now increased during the coronavirus crisis. In conjunction with these new habits and practices, the need to protect information is also changing.

How should we approach security work?

“There’s a rule of thumb in the IT security world: ‘Don’t implement your own encryption solution. Leave it to the experts.’ Sectra is one of relatively few companies that actually has this expertise. It’s easy to forget the user perspective and build systems that might well be secure, but are more or less useless in practice. It’s easy to say ‘Security always comes first!’ but that’s not true. It’s always the needs of the operation that have to come first. The challenge is to meet them securely. Our long experience in the industry has given us a very thorough understanding of the operations and problems in our customer segments.”

How do you think customer needs will develop?

“ ‘Commodity’ is the name of the future. Space for dedicated communication channels and customized hardware will keep shrinking and the challenge will instead be to use standard consumer products securely.”

Text: Agnes Jarfjord, Engage Agency

Related products and services