fbpx

Coronavirus Preparedness

February 27, 2020

The topic of the Coronavirus has been in the news for a while now, and it’s our impression that people in the US are dismissing or underestimating its potential impacts (the CDC keeps repeating that it’s not a matter of if but rather of when, it’ll impact the US – for updates on the situation, please click here).

Although it’s true that it has a very low mortality rate (2%), it’s this very aspect that makes the Coronavirus particularly pernicious and hard to contain. In other outbreaks, i.e. the Avian Flu, mortality rate is over 60%, the symptoms are immediately apparent and recognizable, making containment of the virus less complicated as those who are infected are easily identifiable. It also makes its spreading hard since those who contract it, die. Conversely, the Coronavirus can be asymptomatic. In fact, numerous cases have already been reported of people found to be infected but who displayed no symptoms at all, making this particular virus so much harder to contain. And that’s the reason why the CDC is cautioning us to be vigilant (while remaining calm) because the outbreak _will_ happen.

Even with a low mortality rate, an outbreak will prove disruptive for our lives and businesses. If you’ve followed the news from Wuhan, you’ll know the entire city is practically under curfew and isolated from the rest of the world.

Of course, we’re not writing you a lesson in personal preparedness – our job is to protect your networks from cyberattacks. And along those lines, we caution the potential need for work to be undertaken remotely within a curfew type environment. Additionally, this email serves to give you an idea of our preparedness plans and provide some insights that could be useful for your own outbreak response preparedness strategy.

We’re currently in the process of procuring masks that our employees and their families can use, at work or elsewhere, in order to stay protected, especially in public places. Despite the fact that the need to wear them may not yet be present, such masks are increasingly hard to find, and that’s why we’re acquiring them now. ​And while the CDC has said these masks may not be effective (that the one mask truly effective in filtering out 95% of airborne particles is the N95 mask, and then again, only if used with proper training/fitting, we still intend to be prepared from this aspect), we’re fairly certain it won’t hurt to have a mask on hand.

Proper arrangements and tests have also been done to ensure all our personnel can work from home, should that be needed. Since we don’t know how long the Coronavirus outbreak may last, we’re intent on exercising flexible policies and practices (such as telecommuting, teleworking, working remotely) for as long as necessary. In this, the public cloud is our friend. Having moved all our infrastructure to AWS last August, we’re in a position to respond to and assist clients from practically anywhere. Securely, efficiently, safely.

Likewise with hardware, we’re bringing in sufficient back-ups should replacements be needed (a pre-emptive move in case shipments from overseas become challenging). Notwithstanding that our manufacturer has already made similar plans and is ready to fulfill any hardware needs, we cannot control what governments may do with shipments and borders, and therefore, erring on the side of caution is definitely the best course of action.

As we proceed with such plans, we want to bring to your attention several vital matters.

Hackers have already started exploiting the panic that’s likely to ensue, by sending scam emails related to the Coronavirus. While we’re doing our best to block all such emails, there’s always a chance that one might slip through. It’s therefore of the utmost importance that you inform your users of the situation, and ask them to absolutely NEVER click on any link in any emails related to the Coronavirus. If they want information, go through the appropriate channels namely the CDC, news websites and the likes, and directly from the internet web; not through emails that are almost certainly riddled with dangerous links.

Where cybersecurity readiness is concerned, there’s really nothing clients need to do as NBUSA is already protecting the perimeter, and will continue to do so even if your entire office has been evacuated. However, this is a good time to ensure your VPNs are working properly, so all your personnel who need to continue working (remotely) throughout the crisis, will be able to do so.

It’s our sincere hope that a few days from now, we can all laugh at this email, comforted in the knowledge that the danger never materialized yet we had a proper emergency plan in place, so just in case it did, we were ready and prepared.

Stay safe, truly.

Pierluigi

CTO
Network Box USA