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Remote work security compliance. Corporate “hygiene” is crucial

COVID-19 is a humanitarian and social crisis of unprecedented speed and scale. Coronavirus disease has got an immediate and long-lasting impact on how people work and act in society.

The top priority is to protect people’s health and safety, including in their workplaces, through security measures compliance at home and outside. Business leaders must make rapid, highly-informative decisions, and take immediate actions to protect and support their employees and ensure that critical business operations continue in order to help societal continuity.

Sadly, criminals and hackers are also exploiting this situation. There has been a significant rise in malicious websites, with thousands of new coronavirus-related domains registered since January 2020. Hackers are selling malware and distributing hacking tools through COVID-19 discount codes on the darknet, many of which are aimed at stealing corporate data from laptops of employees who work from home.

Throughout the article, when we say “security” we mean information security. The term “information security” means protecting information and information systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. There is no such thing as perfect security, but “being secure” means reasonable measures have been taken to enforce information security.

Security measures online: provide opportunities and coach your team 

Currently, the biggest concern for chief information security officers (CISOs) and other security professionals are maintaining their organization’s cybersecurity posture during a period where the vast majority of office-based, IT-reliant workers are going to be working from home.

With that in mind, here are the steps Chief Security Officers (CSOs) and Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) can make to keep their organization’s data and systems secure:

  1. Compile a list of clouds and applications which are sanctioned for use and provide a secure way for employees to access these applications.

The usage of a secure gateway, remote desktop connections, or creating corporate accounts is the way to provide access to corporate applications so that staffers can access and use their data securely.

  1. Whenever possible, keep the work to enterprise endpoints.

Not all workers being asked to work from home due to coronavirus will have dedicated work devices, such as laptops and netbooks. If possible, provide them dedicated equipment that they can use from home to work.

Adequately configured endpoint firewalls and anti-malware controls will make it easier to enforce good endpoint security practices.

If it is impossible to provide dedicated endpoints to your employees, consider virtual desktops. It can keep a dedicated endpoint separate, and the virtual system will be protected from all of the other users on the home system. A remote virtual desktop is another option to consider.

  1. Enable multi-factor authentication. 

When employees access work resources from their homes, they appear as unknown network sources, making it difficult for companies to tell the difference between legitimate staff and adversaries with stolen credentials.

Multi-factor authentication, such as one-time codes sent to trusted phones or through the use of a one-time PIN generation app, can help to detect if valid credentials were indeed provided by legitimate users.

  1. Establish a support hotline for new remote workers. 

Technical support and assistance will be necessary for workers who rarely or never work remotely. They will want to know how to configure their systems properly, set up corporate VPN if needed.

To solve these tasks, a dedicated hotline should be organized for helping workers set up their home routers properly, create a dedicated subnet for work, and otherwise correctly configure their system for optimal security.

  1. Use encryption. 

Remote workers should use full disk encryption on their devices if it is possible. They should be coached on how to set this up properly on Windows or macOS if IT or the security department can’t do it for them.

  1. Provide security awareness training. 

With so many new remote workers, an excellent opportunity to raise the security awareness of your company’s workforce through training appears, especially if it hasn’t been done in a while. Such training will remind people about good remote security practices, such as being careful about clicking on links, not using public Wi-Fi, and not leaving their laptops in a car.

This video describes how businesses and their employees can maximize the level of cybersecurity amid the global health crisis.

Tony Anscombe, the Chief of Security of ESET, 6 tips to maximize cybersecurity while working remotely from the ESET YouTube channel.

Online work at home: challenges of the new normal 

All of the above changes and risks create a monitoring nightmare for CSOs and CISOs. We are entering into a period of digital unknown, where change will be the new normal. Data flows and topology will change. New technology and services will be deployed. Logging formats will be different.

Assuming it is not already too late to do so, IT and security teams should do their best to get out ahead of the transition to mass remote working by making sure that a work-from-home solution must protect against a variety of endpoint-related attack vectors, such as:

  • OS vulnerabilities
  • app vulnerabilities
  • network vulnerabilities
  • browser/mail vulnerabilities
  • USB/external device vulnerabilities
  • insider threats

It should be hard for malware to simultaneously access corporate network resources and have direct unfiltered access to the internet.

But the dilemma that CISOs face is that users prefer to use a single device with a single set of peripherals, without switching between devices. They would like to have direct connectivity to their apps and data, without any added network latency, both in the corporate network, in the cloud, and in their personal home network.

But as we prevent viruses from infecting our bodies through isolation, we look to prevent viruses from infecting our computers and keep cybercriminals away from corporate data as well. Isolation is the key to prevention. It ensures separation between healthy and ill.

When the health of corporate infrastructure is taken into consideration, isolation is implemented to separate sensitive data from anything that could potentially cause harm, including the “wild” internet.

And CISOs must walk a fine line between overly restricting user behavior and optimizing cybersecurity hygiene. If the restrictions are too tight, the risk of alienating users and choking their ability to work productively increases, but if the restrictions are too loose, you risk exposing your business to unacceptable levels of risk.

Security measures should start at your employees’ side 

Remote teams do have a far larger attack surface than centralized ones. Unlike in a centralized team where confidential information can be physically locked down behind firewalls and company workstations, remote workers are encouraged or even required to use their own devices. And here comes the question, whether they correspond to corporate security compliance demands or not.

However, corporate devices with pre-installed security compliance software, do not completely safeguard sensitive data either.

Here some tips that can help you avoid information security breach while using both corporate and personal desktops or mobile devices:

  • Lock your doors. If your employees tend to work remotely, confidential corporate information could be at risk. The habit of always locking doors is a key step toward improving the home office’s security. Nobody is insured against theft. Locking doors can help your employees deprive themselves of the stress of a stolen work computer or harm your company by letting its data out into the wild.
  • Have your corporate data encrypted. In heavily regulated industries losing specific data could result in huge fines. Make sure that information in devices that your employees use for online work is encrypted in order to turn a disaster (data compromise) to an annoyance (loss of the device, but no compromise). In many states, breach disclosure laws do not come into effect if the data was encrypted.
  • Never leave devices or laptops in the car. Advise employees to never leave their work computers or devices in a vehicle. And the trunk of a car is not any safer. It’s a best practice for your workers to keep work laptops and devices with them at all times.
  • Don’t use random thumb drives. A classic hacking technique is to drop a number of large-capacity thumb drives hoping someone picks them up and uses. What if it would be your employee? The chances that an unwitting worker will pick up the thumb drive and use it are surprisingly high.
  • Use a USB data blocker when charging up at a public phone charging station. If it is necessary to charge the corporate phone and the only option is an unknown USB port, a wise measure is to protect it with a USB data blocker to prevent data exchange and guard against malware. This type of USB protection allows the device to connect to power without exposing the data pins inside a device; it connects the power leads, but not the data ones.

Conclusion

The volume of interest in coronavirus means that cybercriminals and threat actors will continue to heavily exploit it. And depending on how long the crisis of the pandemic lasts, we could be looking at the emergence of a highly significant, long-term cybersecurity issue because wide usage of remote technologies cannot escape cybercriminals attention.

However, as is so often the case when it comes to cybersecurity, paying a little care and attention to basic security hygiene should be the first priority for both CISOs, security teams, and users. And only combined efforts can make remote working risk-free.

Business planning development under coronavirus conditions

Like every crisis, the coronavirus disease pandemic had a beginning, has a middle, and will have an end. This is not like a movie, however, where you know the running time before you buy your ticket. There are a lot of scenarios of the coronavirus pandemic spread, but no one knows which of them will exactly play out.

COVID-19 is presenting major challenges to people and organizations worldwide. As governments consider new rules and policies trying to protect their citizens, business leaders are also managing the crisis on behalf of their employees, customers, and stakeholders, preparing for the new normal, by considering the capabilities they’ll need in order to emerge stronger on the other side of the coronavirus outbreak.

In order to reach the safe shores and recover from negative COVID-19 pandemic impact, CEOs have to find the right balance between the dangers of coronavirus and work their business and employees have to do.

Business planning. Don’t cross the marsh blindfold in the dark 

The main goal of any business or entrepreneurship is not to survive, but to thrive under different conditions, good or bad. And turn today’s costs into tomorrow’s revenues. That is why business planning is important. Especially being thrown into conditions, like we all have appeared today.

Many companies have worked on contingency plans during the last few years, to be prepared for various types of geopolitical or environmental threats. The plans are implemented now. But, as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, it becomes clear that they need thorough reconsideration.

CEOs and other top managers try to enhance and adapt them by replacing business planning models or even changing the business planning process itself. Such decisions are happening on a continual basis, as new information shapes and reshapes our collective conscience and business environments.

Building a comprehensive up-to-date plan is the major concern for CEOs and other executives. Now is also the time to accelerate efforts to estimate the financial impact of COVID-19 on your business to minimize impact to the bottom line. A full rapid response considers all the functions of an enterprise:

  • Commercial. You should understand whether there will be an immediate shift in consumer behaviors because of COVID-19. It is necessary to determine whether customer policies and priorities require revision, how your business can improve consumer communications, and the steps needed to protect your brand and improve long-term B2C relationships.
  • Financial. Business planning steps in finance should be modified to consider realistic and worst-case scenarios. Profit-improvement initiatives should be developed to cover anticipated revenue gaps, such as near-term procurement efforts and supply chain cost reductions.
  • Human capital. Business planning importance in HR is no less than that in any other sphere. It is vital to confirm the safety and support of all employees and have a clear employee communication strategy with two-way feedback. HR policies should be adjusted to provide more flexibility to your workers in the time of crisis.
  • Operations. Rapid response to changing customer demands gives your sales team an opportunity to adapt and win the market share. Careful business planning on this stage maintains the safety of manufacturing and helps to avoid possible shutdowns. That may mean updating the environment, health, and safety protocols for workers.
  • Technology. The tech team should make sure your network can handle sizable work-from-home conditions and that workers are maximizing their use of virtual meeting spaces and other communication platforms.

How CEOs can fight coronavirus effects 

To succeed in the pandemic survival race – in these uncertain circumstances – your business has no ready-made receipt of planning. The following tips are given by CEOs when the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t yet become disastrous. But the guidelines of how to act under uncertain conditions you may find useful for your business planning development.

  • Be agile and innovative. Spencer Fung, CEO of Li & Fung, says that there’s no way anyone can predict what will happen over the next five years. Does he ask how we are supposed to choose our investments? The solution he came up with had three parts. Being humble and looking for disruption outside the industry are the first two, and the third is being extremely agile. Under uncertain conditions, CEOs should influence a change of mind-set: first in their own management team, then in their employees, and in their customers and suppliers
  • Stay flexible. Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar, thinks that in any time of uncertainty – including right now – there is obviously a lot of uncertainty around technology and politics and trade.  And in times of uncertainty, it is really critical to stay as flexible as possible in every way, not just in terms of equipment but in terms of strategy. She adds that the flexibility of strategy and business should directly correlate to the level of uncertainty.
  • Lookout for disruption. Segun Agbaje, CEO of Guaranty Trust Bank, admits that when he started in banking, whenever they carried out competitor analysis, all they would look at were banks. Today, it is necessary to take into consideration fintechs, telcos, and anybody that would do fast-moving consumables. He adds that, basically, anyone who has the potential to use mobile wallets and mobile technology is a potential competitor. He says that even small start-ups can become a disturbing wave for your business – even if they do not realize it.
  • Learn from uncertainty. Silvio Kutić, CEO of Infobip, says the majority of the things we do every day, we are doing for the first time in our lives. And we are in a continuous learning loop because of new technologies, new customers, and the ever-changing competitive landscape with lots of regulation added into the bargain. He concludes that uncertainty is a driver that gives a new powerful thrust drastically changing our point of view.
  • Focus on execution. Kasper Rørsred, CEO of Adidas, admits that not every decision can be long-term. He thinks a lot of companies underestimate the importance of getting the daily job done in a way they can be proud of. To his opinion, leaders think they get famous for strategy, and they don’t really focus on everyday execution, because they think they don’t get famous for that. Uncertainty procreates fear and a lack of confidence. Clear and understandable algorithms help to regain control over the situation.

Business planning strategies. Constantly keep changes under the radar 

Under the conditions of pandemic trajectory uncertainty, it is vital for businesses to constantly monitor the background and make up-to-date adjustments both in short-term policies and long-term business planning development. It is evident that COVID-19 outbreak suggests that businesses should activate first-level contingency procedures that include mitigating immediate threats to staff, such as:

  • restricting nonessential travel to avoid stranding travelers due to quarantines,
  • reviewing and even deferring nonstrategic investments,
  • planning for a business environment that’s equivalent to a quarter-of–a-year recession.

Alongside tactical steps, CEOs should bear in mind that a comprehensive analysis of the situation is the winning ticket. But what crucial points demand close attention for building an accurate business strategy?

  1. Understand systemic risk and how it affects your business during the pandemic. Systemic risk is about how a threat can jeopardize an entire system or systems. For example, many businesses have seen the systemic threat of cybersecurity risk significantly impact their entire business systems.
  2. Anticipate the systemic changes caused by COVID-19 and the events and opportunities that affect entire systems, including your business system.
  3. Focus on how things work together to outline how this drives systemic risk and changes in complex systems.
  4. Focus first on the forces of change that have high levels of certainty and predictability on your markets, e.g., economic, regulatory, digital, consumer behavior, competitive reaction.
  5. Don’t ignore small, or micro-level changes. They often have an outsized impact on complex systems.

Conclusion

Though there are a lot of parameters and conditions that are hard to forecast, systemic analysis and quick response to changes can ensure your business from COVID-19 catastrophic impact.

We hope that in this article you will find the useful milestones for your business to mark the way amidst current uncertainty.

Coronavirus lands an uppercut. Can business recover from a knockdown?

Our planet reminds us of a punching bag for the last several months. COVID-19 lands severe blows worldwide. Tens of thousands of reported infection cases; thousands of deaths, caused by the coronavirus; national boundaries lockdowns; drastic quarantine measures; lack of medical supplies and personnel have become a terrifying routine of daily reports.

But behind all these horrible figures and events a ghost of global economic recession and crisis flies its flags. And in spite of the fact that a vague hope to win COVID-19 is dimly visible, there are a lot of problems waiting at the front door to deal with.

Coronavirus social effects. A painful injection in overconfidence

In its early stages, COVID-19 looked nothing like a crisis. Even though several scientists had been warning of the potential for a catastrophe for weeks, the initial emergency declarations were met by skepticism by both the public and many policymakers. They assured that neither people nor economies should panic and stop because of the virus.

The COVID-19 crisis could change this in two ways. First, it has already forced people back to accepting that expertise matters. It was easy to sneer at experts until a pandemic arrived. Second, it may return humankind to a new seriousness. We are more fragile than we thought!

This loss of innocence, or complacency, is a new way of our existence that we can expect to change our interaction with the world. We know now that touching things, being with other people and breathing the air in an enclosed space can be risky.

How quickly does that awareness recede? It depends on people, for sure. But it can never vanish completely for anyone who will live through this year. It can become second nature to avoid shaking hands or touching our faces. And we may all find we can’t stop washing our hands. The comfort of being in the presence of others may be replaced by a greater comfort with absence, especially with those we don’t know intimately.

In any case, coronavirus pandemic made certain things obvious:

  • The “superpower” title isn’t secure from the disease.
  • Europeans are not so well-educated as it seemed.
  • People can do well enough without traveling abroad and successfully find what to occupy themselves with.
  • Affluent people are not less susceptible to the virus than the poor ones.
  • Billions of dollars can be spent on people without bureaucratic impediments.
  • Medical personnel is worth more than football or hockey players.
  • Oil is useless in society without consumption.
  • People understood how animals feel in zoos.
  • The planet is recovering quickly without human interference.
  • The majority of people can work from home.
  • It is not difficult to follow the rules of hygiene and wash hands.
  • The world is full of GOOD people.

Meanwhile, overconfidence and negligence in some cases cost a lot. Catastrophic situation in Spain and Italy is a vivid example. But the justifiable concern about getting infected is having an impact on social structure and sense of mutual responsibility.

Though some country leaders underestimate COVID-19 danger, deny the necessity of borders closure and the existence of virus itself, common sense wins in the majority of cases. Politicians, celebrities and ordinary people try to overcome the hardships of pandemic together, learn to hear one another and become more attentive to the needs of others.

Coronavirus economic effects. How to foresee the uncertainty?

The ongoing spread of COVID-19 has become one of the biggest threats to the global economy and financial markets. Fears of the coronavirus impact on the global economy have rocked markets worldwide, plunging stock prices and bond yields.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its March report downgraded the economic growth forecast in 2020.

Fig 1. Global economic growth slowdown. Source: OECD (March 2020).

But the major downside of the attempts to foresee the global economic recession scale is that nothing like the COVID-19 pandemic has happened before. Business analysts can take into consideration the current situation and compare it with the crisis in 2008. But coronavirus leaves too many variables in the equation to find a definite answer. Even if coronavirus resurgence is left behind brackets.

With so many unknowns surrounding the trajectory of the epidemic, and the response from government and business, forecasters cannot aspire to precision. Now, experts can only accurately count losses and state certain downfalls, such as:

  1. Health care crisis that turns medical care challenge into an economic one. Health-care workers are on the front lines of the fight with coronavirus. They could become infected and need to self-quarantine. The health and safety of the population remain the highest policy priority. Governments and politicians need to make sure that sufficient diagnostic, protective and therapeutic equipment is available.
  2. The demand side of the economy is primarily hurt. As businesses shutter their operations, people can no longer go to work and often lose their jobs and incomes. Their demands shrink as well. Small and medium businesses, especially in low-margin industries such as restaurants, will be among the ones most acutely hit by the economic fallout.
  3. High uncertainty over the economy reins that makes economic fallout deeper. Businesses are pulling back, not just because they have no customers, but also because they don’t know how bad the situation may become. Families are cutting spending because they are worried about drastic drops in their incomes.
  4. States and local governments have to deal with the fallout from the pandemic. Many people will have to quickly rely on public services. And, local businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and event venues are shuttered for the time being, reducing employment, jobs and tax revenues.
  5. The problem of massive economic inequality. Generally, lower-wage workers with less education and rural households have fewer economic resources – incomes and wealth – than higher-income workers. Survival and recovery of the former ones are much more questionable.

Focusing on the stock market is not the best solution. Investors have oscillated from panic to euphoria and back to panic. And the stock market has gone through massive gyrations over the past few weeks. But boosting the stock market will do little to ordinary people’s current and future financial health.

Coronavirus disease. The only vaccine is a gradual recovery 

The coronavirus now appears to be infecting economies as quickly as it does people. And like any infected person, any “infected” economy needs imminent treatment. To avoid emergency surgery after the pandemic end, gradual recovery steps should be taken now. The realities of new, after-coronavirus normal fully depend on what is done today.

Among the industries seeing the greatest impact from the fallout are hospitality, travel, education, media, and entertainment. Meanwhile, production firms in agriculture, factories, mines, and utilities reported some uptick in revenues.

Nevertheless, business leaders across the board said they’re taking new measures to curb the impact of the virus. That includes:

  • Focusing on facts.
  • Communicating more regularly with employees and stakeholders.
  • Adopting new health and safety procedures.
  • Stabilization of supply chains.
  • Making short-term and long-term plans.
  • Canceling major events.
  • Halting business travels.

But how to lead a business from the disastrous COVID-19 crisis to the new normal? A company should cross five horizons to beat coronavirus pandemic post-effects. According to McKinsey, they are Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform.

Fig 2. Five steps to the new normal.

The coronavirus outbreak is undoubtedly a story of human tragedy. But it will cause significant harm to the economy, too – and the true scale of this cost has only just started to emerge.

Conclusion

In spite of the fact that some experts predict that coronavirus can become endemic and its recurrence will cost many lives every year, let’s hope for the best.

Finally, we begin to understand that affluence and power do not shield from diseases and viruses. And only consolidated efforts of governments, businesses, and ordinary people can stop global disasters.

COVID-19 pandemic became the chemical catalyst, which has pushed the human mind and way of life alteration. And it very much depends on a person, what changes there will be.

Smart Software Ideas for Offline To Online

Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak

The COVID-19 outbreak shut the world down for high-contact businesses and forced them to rethink their development strategies and business plans, take decisive actions depending on the industry they are in. Classical offline businesses are aware they have to learn how to shift to online to stay afloat during these uncertain times.

According to McKinsey & Company’s study, market capitalization has lessened across many sectors. There is a significant variety of the amount of the decline.

On the diagram below you can see the decline of market capitalization in various business areas. (Weighted average to date local currency whole shareholder returns by industry in percent. Width of bars is beginning market cap in $).

Today’s events are unpredictable. Actually, there is little chance the coronavirus will be eradicated soon. No one can predict the second wave of the pandemic.

This is the moment you must take specific actions and rebuild your company to survive an economic downturn.

There is a wide array of ways businesses can respond to the current COVID-19 horror story, yet the best one is to move online and cogitate about developing an appropriate solution.

This article focuses on some of the most effective and lucrative ideas to shift diverse offline businesses online. It contains plenty of examples to prove these ideas really work. In addition, it describes the cases of our clients, whose situations we know firsthand.

Education Courses: make a switchover to online learning

The coronavirus outbreak led to the near-total closure of educational institutions all over the world. At the same time, there has been a huge increase in the popularity of online learning.

Ideas

  • Educational web portals for shifting training online, uploading and selling video lectures and courses.
  • Applications with live streaming technologies for live lecture broadcasting.
  • EdTech – concentrate on brand-new technologies in education that combine advanced technologies, methods of creating and delivering new knowledge, analytics, and learning effectiveness measurement.

Examples

Moving online within a couple of days. The vivid example of cost-effective going online is a Spanish language school. The quarantine-related school closure made the staff seriously wonder what they would do next. To be honest, none of the teachers have ever heard of Zoom or had online teaching experience.

Nevertheless, in a couple of days, the school started with online classes and so far, they are going pretty well. The school did not lose a single student; on the contrary, it attracted new ones from other cities.

Now the language school is working on its educational portal and is actively creating an online learning environment.

Own Zoom. Programming & Web Developing Courses took a very serious approach to arrange online classes. The company has already had its educational platform but did not want to restrict in-person training to using only Zoom technology. In fact, recognizing the value of owning its platform, the company would like to receive data that helps to increase product success.

Within three weeks, the company developed Zoom analog right in its training platform. Thanks to the quick transition to online, none of the students quitted learning and the company gained its reputation as an academic innovator by developing and selling a number of new online courses.

Sport and Fitness: offline to online shift

For gyms, fitness studios, and private trainers, switching to the online workout isn’t easy. Since social distancing is crucial during the coronavirus time, many fitness studios hosted free live workouts on Instagram: business owners hoped quarantine would not last long. But it turned out that measures to tackle the pandemic were much more serious.

It became obvious that businesses must be quick to adapt to survive, as the world most likely will not go back to as it was before.

Ideas

  • A mobile app or web platform for the online workout. You can lower the price to keep up and maintain the customer base. Even after quarantine, you can offer online workout options to help everyone stay fit across the globe.
  • Selling video records of workout training.
  • Live streaming apps for workout broadcasting.
  • Website for booking online workouts.

Examples

Be a cut above the competitors. One of the gym owners admits that he did not believe that anybody could buy his video content since many trainers stream for free. But soon he realized that he should be a cut above to compete. The trainers of his gym created video content to get people motivated, to give health and nutrition tips, and to cheer clients up. The team launched online marathons in Zoom. Despite it being the team’s first experience, it led to business success and recouped initial investment.

All ingenious is simple and sometimes is cheap. Another gym owner mentioned that he created video content with added value for customers. Being an amateur shutterbug, he just used an iPhone, a microphone, and a tripod to shoot videos for YouTube. Access to the videos was given only to the gym clients. Now the owner is slogging on creating a portal with registration-to-gym procedures, online training sessions, and other business ideas.

Retail: how to start your own online business

Retail has been hit particularly hard, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced retail stores, malls, and shopping centers to close. However, the crisis provoked many creative ideas of developing software to attract and retain new customers.

Ideas

  • Own online store.

Examples

How to keep income at the pre-crisis level. This is the story about business, whose development is taking place before our eyes. Earlier, we assisted the retail chain owner in creating an online store. At the beginning of the quarantine lockdown, he agreed to partner with a delivery service. Thanks to this, he was able to keep his sales humming.

By the way, it wasn’t enough for him, so at the moment we are developing a number of applications to support his own delivery service.

Do what you never dreamed of before. According to the insider information, in March, the offline sales of the on-trend clothing boutique plummeted nearly 50%. In April, there were no sales at all. At the same time, online sales witnessed growth by at least 60%.

The owner wrapped his mind around increasing online sales. Now his team is actively collecting customer feedback, offering repair services, providing a comprehensive policy for returns and exchanges, and selecting items based on purchasing-history data.

Moreover, the store started selling internationally, which the owner had not even dreamed of before.

Leisure: how to get online in such a business

In light of coronavirus disease, it would seem that leisure-related businesses are suffering the most immediate repercussions. In fact, the leisure industry is able to adapt to challenging conditions and find a way out with recently-developed software.

Ideas

  • Web portals to which you can upload your online courses or transfer the theoretical parts of training courses.
  • Web sites, where you can talk about your services and value proposition, share your ideas and experiences, place your blog.

Example

Lucky Strike. Do you have a suggestion on how to switch the yacht club online? During the coronavirus outbreak, the club owner had to close the office and cancel all public events.

At the same time, the company launched highly informative online yacht training courses with a theoretical part. It was an incredible success: everyone who wanted to learn sailing, but did not have time or lived in another city, could study the theoretical section of the course.

Besides, the company created a number of sports courses, started a blog, translated several sailing movies, and launched the online store with the club’s merchandise.

Catering Business: working offline and online

Many restaurants, cafes, and bars had to close during the coronavirus outbreak. Restaurant business owners understood they had to find new ways to get customers. Therefore, many restaurants offer takeout and delivery options.

Ideas

  • Online food ordering apps and websites.
  • Mobile self-service or contactless service apps.

Example

100% Contactless. Here we would like to share the story of our client. He asked us to develop a contactless dining app to maintain adequate social distancing and minimal contact between visitors and staff at a restaurant.

The app works like this: the user sits at the table, scans the QR code on the table, and downloads the app. Then he places an order by indicating his table number. Payments are fully digital through smartphones. Thus, the entire dining out process is completely contactless.

Entertainment: the show must stream online

Cinemas, amusement parks, theaters, and other cultural venues like concert halls and museums were closed worldwide due to COVID-19. However, it is the entertainment industry that helps people to amuse themselves in their leisure time and distract from heavy thoughts during unprecedented health and economic crises.

Ideas

  • Live streaming event apps for concert and performance video broadcasting.
  • Applications and websites for professional virtual tours.

Example

Consider tech issues and do not forget about donations. Some theaters have already begun streaming their pre-recorded or live performances online. Fine-tuning, high-quality sound, and image are the keys to success.

You can arrange a symbolic cost per view to keep the business afloat. Some theaters and cinemas sell access to online videos to a worldwide audience, others accept online donations, so anyone can thank for watching a movie or performance by donating any amount of money.

Conclusion

The world will never be the same. A business won’t be the same.

We tried our best to give you the tools to improve your business. With them, you can endure this crisis and all subsequent ones.

Here, we accumulated ideas and examples of bridging the gap between offline and online business. We are sure that the list is not complete. The world is full of incredibly talented and creative people, whose desire for growth and development never goes away.

These days are times of radical changes. Gain momentum – think about ideas that quickly turn into a profitable business during a crisis.

Coronavirus: health insurance providers’ thorny crown

Millions of people have lost jobs because of coronavirus effects on business. And they are often deprived of the health coverage that came together with those jobs as well. More suffer from their work hours reduced or have to bear drastic pay cuts that make monthly premiums – that may have been manageable before – out of reach.

The coronavirus disease pandemic has added more costs to the healthcare system, employers, and health insurance providers as well, though that will depend on how many people are infected and how many become seriously ill. Let’s take a closer look at the coronavirus impact on the health insurance system.

Coronavirus outbreak = health insurance breakdown?

The cost of providing increased COVID-19 coverage to policyholders, coupled with the overall higher frequency and severity of claims to treat the virus and exacerbated by policy cancellations, is expected to have a profound impact on the profitability of the insurance industry.

When the 2020 health insurance policies currently in place were priced, there were no premium increases in anticipation of COVID-19. It is uncertain whether delays in elective surgeries and other non-emergent treatments in addition to the savings resulting from telehealth will have a significant impact to outweigh the increased costs of coronavirus pandemic.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty regarding the timeline to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and the ultimate costs for the insurance industry to pay for such claims. It is also uncertain whether the government will provide relief to the insurance industry. COVID-19 has the potential of increasing future health insurance premiums significantly, but the final impact will be determined by the outcome of the aforementioned variables.

Will coronavirus make health insurance companies skyrocket the premiums? 

Evidently, the coronavirus disease outbreak is going to cost health insurance providers a lot of money. If it doesn’t get under control soon, that might mean dramatic increases in insurance premiums next year. Some reports predict that employer premiums will rise in 2021 by 40 percent or more, if federal actions are absent, which is certain to alarm many employers.

That’s the message which is speculated among some experts. It is very true, that health insurance payouts have drastically increased. The cost to health insurers for covering COVID-19 testing and treatment, especially as many of them waive cost-sharing for patients, could be enormous.

But insurers can’t legally hike their rates astronomically next year to make up for those costs. Their proposed rates should reflect their expected costs in 2021, not what they spent in 2020. State regulators can push back against proposed hikes that they don’t think are justified by the anticipated costs for the upcoming year.

2020 insurance rates have already been issued for most employers, and they include almost no coronavirus claims expenses. This means most employers will see a minimal impact to their existing 2020 rates.

The real issue is how COVID-19 will affect 2021 premiums. Experts say some major questions need answers before they could assess what will happen to premiums in 2021:

  • Is the pandemic over by 2021 or is it still going?
  • Do insurers need to use their financial reserves to cover coronavirus costs?
  • How many elective surgeries are getting postponed into 2021?
  • Will governments do anything to help health insurers absorb their losses from the pandemic?

Has coronavirus put health insurance companies in its bear hug? 

If the virus remains and people continue to get sick, be tested, or go to hospitals because of COVID-19, the insurers could fairly assume they will continue to have new expenses related to the outbreak next year. That scenario can lead to the worst consequences with double-digit increases potentially being the norm. Potentially, but not necessarily.

For most employers, this means four or more months of coronavirus expenses that will affect their base. And while this may lead to some premium increases, several countervailing factors will compensate the COVID-19 expenses and minimize potential rate increases.

  1. Insurance regulators rarely include one-time events in base claims. Assuming that the coronavirus outbreak is a one-time event, it means that 2021 insurance rates are not likely to skyrocket because of the current crisis.
  2. Social distancing has lowered overall claims expenses in other areas, such as office visits, elective surgeries, lab tests, outpatient care, and inpatient stays. This will outweigh any increases from COVID-19.

Insurers will experience significant losses from unpaid employer premiums. But because health insurers are required to maintain minimum “risk-based capital” reserves to cushion unforeseen disasters like COVID-19. This should, in its turn, compensate related revenue decrease and not affect employer insurance rates.

Insurers are often criticized for accumulating large reserves. But the reserves make it possible to protect subscribers and providers during catastrophes and ensure that they can cover healthcare expenses regardless of higher claims or lower revenues without influence on current rates.

Conclusion

But that is not the end of the story.

Even though most employers should not suffer severely from large premium increases, there will be some increases. Many employers will be tempted to pass coronavirus-related insurance losses to their employees’ shoulders to soften companies’ financial impact.

The question arises: whether employers should expect workers to compensate more of the burden by passing on health insurance cost increases?

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