Vanquishing viral enemies

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While contending with the pandemic, businesses are also facing increased cybersecurity and data privacy threats. In partnership with PJS Law, Asia Business Law Journal hosted a virtual roundtable of senior in-house counsel to find solutions to these challenges

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Most businesses, governments and regulators were trying to find a way around dealing with cybersecurity issues and data privacy in the normal course of life, and then we were confronted with the onset of covid-19 and the additional data privacy problems that it brings us.

Data shows that there has been a rise in covid-19-related phishing and ransomware attacks, increased delays in cyberattack detection, and a slow response from IT teams, which have been spread thinner because of work-from-home restrictions.

Remote working brings its own set of challenges, but there have been positives, too – the pandemic has forced the hand of businesses to take a stronger view and an improved position on dealing with cybersecurity issues.

It’s in this context that Asia Business Law Journal’s virtual roundtable assumes significance. We brought together an expert panel to discuss these challenges, all of them senior in-house legal practitioners from a variety of industries and from across jurisdictions.

On the panel are: Chae Jooyup from South Korea, who is the vice president and general counsel for SK Biopharmaceuticals and Life Sciences; Sarita Misir, senior vice president, global legal, Fullerton Health in Singapore; Vincent Ng, general counsel for Hong Kong-based online travel company Klook; Sandra Wu, the president and chairperson of the Association of Corporate Counsel Hong Kong; and Rachelle Diaz, a partner at PJS Law in the Philippines.

Asia Business Law Journal: What are the challenges in ensuring data privacy within businesses as companies implement remote working, and perform transactions and ensure compliance remotely.

Chae Jooyup: So, it’s not exactly about data privacy, but it is a little related to cybersecurity, because when you work from home in Korea, Japan or Taiwan, to execute an agreement we need the corporate seal, not the signature. The corporate seal is stored by the company. So if you cannot go to the company, you cannot use the seal.

What we did for that was we implemented digital signatures. We scanned the corporate seal and then shared it with very limited numbers of employees who really need to execute agreements, so they could execute the agreement by using a digital signature. This was the example we implemented with regard to covid-19.

Sandra Wu: I think the first question that we all initially asked ourselves as general counsel of the companies we represent is, how safe are your data and security? What I mean by that, are your data and security housed in a castle with a moat, or housed in a straw hut? How vulnerable are you and your systems now?

Covid-19, obviously, in Hong Kong has impacted us in three waves now. So, you see more and more people working from home. I believe this trend will continue to grow. I don’t think it will reverse at any stage. And, unfortunately, our homes are not as secure as the fortresses that we may have built in the offices with respect to IT systems. So, with working from home, it means you don’t have 24/7 access to your security team to call on for your day-to-day issues, but also the attacks that you may have.

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