Letter from the Editor: Bridging Risk

By: Scott St. John, Pipeline

The future is brought to you by Pfizer - and also maybe Moderna. On Monday, November 9th at 6:45AM US Eastern time, the pharmaceutical giant announced 90 percent efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine, developed in collaboration with BioNTech, from its Phase-3 study which encompassed over 40,000 people. One week later, Moderna announced the 94.5 percent efficacy of its COVE vaccine, notably with far fewer participants (less than 100) and more questionable production capabilities.

However, both vaccines are planned to be available to the public as early as the spring of 2021 – and will be available for emergency use and other scenarios even earlier. It’s an incredible, unprecedented human accomplishment, developing a vaccine in under one fourth of the time of the fastest (Mumps) vaccine development in history, but that doesn’t help us now.

After sifting through all the data, there are points of light and good reason for hope. For example, in some regions the mortality rate has dropped to around 1 percent (2.5 percent globally), which seems we are getting much better at treating the disease and protecting life.  Previous mortality rates in these same regions were 3-4 times as high. However, that in no way means we are out of the woods yet. With the explosive, relentless nature of the coronavirus and the sheer fortitude of the COVID-19 disease, many more people are getting sick, and many who are getting sick are getting sicker. This is evidenced by the increases in the rate of infection, and the increased rate of hospitalizations from those that fall ill.

We must do everything in our power to protect ourselves now. It’s not necessarily in the broad numbers. On the surface, the numbers indicate if you get the COVID-19 disease you will have a roughly 99 percent chance of surviving (although the quality of life after infection is a subject of much debate), and roughly half of those cases will be asymptomatic. But it’s the sheer magnitude of risk. According to the latest projections, we currently on a trajectory to see more than 100,000 additional deaths by the holidays, and well before a vaccine is widely available. That’s a lot of empty seats at the table.

Perhaps the biggest indication of the threat we face is seen in the faces, and heard in the pleas of the healthcare workers who are on the front lines treating the disease. Fact is, you don’t want COVID and must take serious preventative measures to ensure you are not added to the mounting, 1.3 million-person death toll already attributed to this pandemic.

Adding to the risk, the pandemic is creating an abhorrent opportunity, which is being explored by repugnant individuals and organizations.  Cyberattacks – including on pharmaceutical companies who are developing vaccine candidates – COVID-related phishing attacks, and data breaches are all on the rise. All as people and businesses are relying on their connectivity and the services that run on top of it to survive. This only stands to sharply increase, as governments around the world are exploring, implementing, and urging for tighter lockdowns. Which is why this issue of Pipeline is so important.

In this issue of Pipeline, I look at five innovative must-haves in cybersecurity during the COVID era, and Pipeline’s Dr. Cummings examines the Cyber War Games that are being conducted in Australia with members of the private, public, and classified sectors to protect smart cities from cyberattack. Veego looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted home internet quality of experience (QoE), and SAS looks at how COVID is creating fraud risk and various ways to mitigate it. Stellar Cyber tells us how cybersecurity is going into its third phase and beyond packet inspection and even the application of AI and ML. Red Hat discusses ways open source is being leveraged to mitigate risks at the network edge for use cases such as 5G and IoT, and TCG discusses how standards can be applied for IoT security to safeguard devices against evolving future threats.  All this plus, the latest industry news and more.

Be well,

Scott St. John
Managing Editor

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