COVID-19: IBM Helps Clients Protect their Digital Assets and Keep Newly Remote Operations Online During the Pandemic

Amy Larsen DeCarlo – Principal Analyst, Security and Data Center Services

Summary Bullets:

• IBM is mapping its COVID-19 support efforts around seven major technology and business concerns relevant to clients during the outbreak, with business continuity and IT security being two key areas.

• Company executives think the move by so many organizations to remote work will accelerate major post-pandemic transformation projects.

The rapid shift of brick and mortar operations by enterprises and governments to a remote work model has placed technology companies front and center in the fight for business to survive. IT vendors and service providers are helping clients with everything from standing up new collaboration systems and providing critical connectivity to delivering AI-based tools to support customer communications with fewer call center resources. As one of the world’s largest providers of technology and professional and managed services, IBM has been leading a massive effort to help clients transition to and manage remote operations.

In a roundtable for a (remote) audience of industry analysts, IBM executives detailed is the company’s unique approach to working through the outbreak, and what the provider is doing to help its customers maintain stable and continuous operations. The company, which itself shifted to an almost entirely remote workforce before most countries began issuing stay at home orders, has aligned its COVID-19 work with the major business and technology challenges its clients are contending with during the outbreak.

Two of these approaches are in many ways related: Enhancing IT resiliency and business continuity; and addressing new cybersecurity risks. Jesus Mantas, managing partner, global strategy, platforms & innovation for IBM GBS, said the sudden move to a remote work model for so many traditional organizations introduced new risks to operational continuity and IT security. Security incidents have skyrocketed during the outbreak, soaring 40% as opportunistic hackers look to take advantage of new security gaps.

COVID-19 specific credential phishing and malware have emerged as two of the more common attack types during this period. Mantas said in IBM’s monitoring of 70 billion security events, it had uncovered 50 different COVID-19 themed campaigns.

Mantas said IBM has mobilized numerous security technologies that address the remote workforce issue including MaaS360 endpoint management solution which incorporates threat intelligence on COVID-19 related spam and malware.

IBM has also stepped up its managed and consultative services offering virtualized support for organizations that have reduced staff. The provider is also offering virtualized incident response support.

While Mantas and a team of other executives noted the COVID-19 outbreak has created an unprecedented volatility for organizations across all industries, it has also provided real proof points for technologies like AI and cloud. The executives noted that technologies that in the past took days or weeks to deploy are being set up in hours. One of the key takeaways was that remote working may be the accelerant for larger transformation.

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