Coronavirus is here and globally impacting our world. Human beings are dying and the toll keeps rising more and more each day. That is the horrible truth of disease! Besides causing human pain and suffering the Coronavirus is also causing disruption and impacting many businesses that are dependant on each other. What does the impact look like? Forensic Expert Lee Neubecker and President of Logical Management Systems Geary Sikich dissect Coronavirus and the huge global rippling impact. For example; Chicago recently canceled the Housewares Show at McCormick Place which typically draws over 60,000 attendees. Everything associated with that conference will feel a significant downturn. ie. hotels, travel, transportation, local food, and beverage. As a result of this global business disruption, there will also be an increase of vulnerability and these experts anticipate an increase in cyber activity. Watch this video interview to learn more about other global industries impacted by the Coronavirus.
Part 1 of our 2-Part Series on Coronavirus
Lee Neubecker: I’m here today with Geary Sikich. He’s the president of Logical Management Systems, a cyber and business continuity consulting expert. And I’m Lee Neubecker, the president of Enigma Forensics. We’re a computer forensics firm that provides investigative assistance with matters involving litigation or otherwise investigations. Today we’re going to be talking about the Coronavirus and the global impacts. Thanks, Geary, for being on the show.
Geary Sikich: Thanks, Lee, for having me back.
LN: So, Geary, can you tell everyone what’s happening right now globally, as it relates to the business environment in impacted nations?
GS: Well, the current state of affairs is that Asia is in a situation where Coronavirus continues to kind of expand. It’s expanding at a lesser pace in China, but it’s accelerated in places like South Korea and in Japan. And we’re starting to see it, obviously, move from those Asian countries into the Middle East. Iran has a huge issue with Coronavirus. Italy has another big amount of people that are confirmed cases versus cases under observation. So there’s a significant amount of human impact there. On the business side, this has disrupted a lot of businesses in just about every way you can imagine. So, the shipping industry? Tremendous disruption there. Airline industry? Tremendous disruption there. A lot of flight cancellations and other things. We’re seeing now sporting events, conferences, conventions, all kinds of things that are essentially money-makers in the normal sense, but also dependent on a tremendous chain of support to bring off. Suddenly a conference is canceled, and now you have hotels affected, you have transportation systems affected, you have all the food services affected. This kind of rippling through a lot of areas is causing a very very big concern with, not only businesses but governments. How do you control it and what do you do in this situation?
LN: So, here in Chicago, we have the Chicago Housewares Show canceled. Recently many vendors were coming from other nations where there’s a travel ban. And that impact certainly impacts the workers that are at the hotels, The audio workers.
LN: And whatnot, their hours get cut.
GS: Yeah, the interesting part about that is that when you begin to look They had on the news the other day, They had on the news the other day, was talking about the cancellation of this convention. 60,000 people come. And obviously there’s a lot of work that’s done: Setting up booths, displays, and all the other things that go along with it. Suddenly, he’s out of work for a period of time until the next convention comes in or maybe doesn’t come in. But that ripples through to hotels, food services, restaurants, your taxi cabs, your Ubers, your Lyft, your everything associated with coming to a place for a conference or a convention. So a huge impact. But then you also have So huge impact.
LN: But then you also have and these deliveries are now delayed because of the dockworkers that load up the equipment
LN: And these deliveries are now delayed where they have restrictions in place.
GS: And an interesting sidelight to that is that you look at the shipping industry and the amount of material that’s shipped by the containers those ships carry are what they call 20,000 TEU which is a 22-foot equivalent unit. Or 20-foot equivalent unit. Anyway, it’s a size that they have. If you look at that aspect, one of the things that some companies are starting to encounter, and I think you’re going to see more and more of this, is that because of delays in shipping, suddenly the container supply is not as available because your container, Lee, that you shipped, full of your product is sitting out in the ocean waiting to dock at my port, but it can’t come in because it’s quarantined? And now that container is going to sit. But John’s company needs a container to ship his product. Can’t get it because your container’s the one he would’ve normally gotten. So huge impacts in terms of ripple effects in a lot of it. So the average time that the container holds goods, in terms of the number of days is increased markedly. And the existence of the containers largely
LN: So the average time that the container holds goods, so there’s a shortage. Right. And if you think about this in another context, the number of things in the containers, it’s not just computer chips,
GS: Right. Roughly, and I heard a figure that was kind of astounding to me, but about 80% of all the containers are full of perishable foods.
LN: Oh yeah, certainly.
GS: You’ve got your bananas, and oranges and things that we don’t necessarily get in Chicago in the wintertime ’cause we don’t grow them.
LN: Oh yeah, certainly.
GS: You’ve got your bananas because it’s no longer fresh. I’ve got to decontaminate the container. because we don’t grow them, in terms of how these all are impacted. Which gets us into looking at, from a computer security standpoint. These are tracked. Barcoding systems and whatnot. How easy is it for that to get disrupted because somebody decides it’s an opportunity to hack into a network?
LN: Certainly, when systems are constrained and overworked, it’s the likelihood of a failure or an attack compromising the system goes up. So it creates a real opportunity for a hacker to strike and have a magnified impact, So here in Chicago, we have a lot of companies that are impacted by this. We’ve got Boeing, We’ve got United Airlines. Boeing. Major facilities for companies that, while headquartered elsewhere, operate big hubs out of Chicago. Especially in the airline industry.
GS: United Airlines. still, kind of the shipping center for a lot of the country. And if you look at the Chicago area, if you will, you’ve got then industries in Northwest Indiana, you’ve got industries south of Chicago.
GS: A huge amount of rail traffic that goes through. The expressway between Indiana and Chicago, 80, 94, is one of the heaviest traveled expressways in the world. You’ve got a number of other businesses that suddenly have the exposure that they hadn’t realized. A huge amount of rail traffic that goes through. What would happen if you took the casinos in the Chicago area and closed them down for two weeks? It’s not just casino workers. It’s not just the amount of money the casino’s going to lose by not being in operation. It’s the day worker. It’s what we call the gig economy. Those people who live paycheck to paycheck that are dependent. So suddenly, they’re without. How are we going to deal with making sure that there’s a, if you will, an equilibrium or a safety net for those entities? One of the things we’re faced with, starting to see now, the City of Chicago’s just announced they’re just putting together a pandemic taskforce. They’ve had a few months watching it unfold in China. much like the rest of the United States, and, if you will, the rest of the world in some respects. Why has it taken this amount of time, and what do we need to be aware of from a private-sector standpoint as to what the public sector is going to do? So from a planning standpoint, this is critical. If you’re a business and you’re putting together a plan, and your plan suddenly conflicts with the City’s plan or the State’s plan, what happens then? How do you deal with that?
LN: Those are all great points. In our next segment, we’ll be continuing our discussion, and we’ll be talking a little bit more about what it’s been like for businesses that are going through some of these extreme measures that are being put in place to help protect and contain the virus from spreading. Thanks for being on the show.
GS: Thanks, Lee.
Other related articles
City of Chicago’s response
For information about how you can prepare from the Center Disease Control.