Greylock’s Sarah Guo Sounds Alarm on Heightened Cybersecurity Risks

Changes wrought by the pandemic, including the large-scale shift to remote work and rapid growth of new technology products, have contributed to a dire escalation in cyberattacks, venture capitalist

Sarah Guo

said.

“I am fundamentally very, very worried that the problem has both gotten worse and individual consumers and businesses are not necessarily taking it as seriously as they need to,” said Ms. Guo, who is a partner at firm Greylock Partners and spoke Wednesday at The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference.

As employees took their work home, outside the protection of corporate networks, cyber attackers gained more targets and have used corporate email and software systems to carry out their attacks. More devastating attacks have hit energy and technology companies, upending operations and supply chains, Ms. Guo said.

Companies have been grappling with an increase in cybercrime, particularly ransomware attacks. The White House this month met with representatives from some other governments to coordinate their response to the ransomware boom.

The growth of the technology industry due to the pandemic, which drove most business and social interaction online, has prompted a surge in the writing of new software. The problem, said Ms. Guo, is that some companies, from the largest tech companies to small startups, are writing and shipping software code very quickly, and not all of it is safe from hackers. Each new feature or line of code added to software potentially creates a new vulnerability, she said.

“Insecure computing is growing faster than security,” said Ms. Guo. “For society this is a really fundamental problem.”

She also said that the changes the pandemic has brought to the global labor market are evident even in small startups and here to stay. Ms Guo said she works with startups of fewer than 20 employees who have workers in three countries, which just a couple of years ago would have been abnormal.

Sarah Guo, general partner at venture capital firm Greylock, tells WSJ Tech Live that the social fabric of in-person work creates feelings of belonging, motivation and happiness that Zoom hasn’t been able to replace.

Companies need to adjust to their workers moving to other cities away from the company headquarters, hiring workers who want more flexibility, instituting an international payroll system and developing better human resources and administrative functions to handle this all, Ms. Guo said.

Anyone who “thinks that we are returning to some sort of normal that is very similar to the old normal I think is fooling themselves,” said Ms. Guo.

Write to Heather Somerville at [email protected]

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