Companies trying to stave off business disruption caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic may be ripe for compromise as they introduce new risks in the scramble to maintain business continuity, warned a retired senior CIA executive in a keynote presentation Wednesday at the InfoSec World 2020 digital conference.

In essence, the coronavirus has created ideal “crisis” conditions within organizations that attackers can take advantage of to conduct reconnaissance or data exfiltration operations while going unnoticed.

“In my own experience, the best time to spy is when there’s a crisis in the target, when there’s a crisis ongoing, because people tend to cut corners,” said Mark Kelton, director of MEK & Associates and former chief of the CIA’s Counterintelligence Center – one of multiple roles he held during his 34 years of experience in intelligence operations. “They tend to modify procedures. The procedures they put in place to protect information, to protect facilities and the like, tend to fray because people have to go forward and conduct business. The pace of business dictates compromise.”

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