If you haven’t heard about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) by now, chances are you’ve been underground or a part of a reality TV show. The rest of us have been grappling with how to function both in our daily lives and in business. Able employers have largely transitioned their business to online and remote work.
While we’re all rightfully praising the technology that makes remote work possible, employers need to be aware of the potential disadvantages remote work can bring to your company. Cyber threats have increased since the Coronavirus trend. According to Dave Waterson, a chief executive for a UK-based cybersecurity firm, cyberattacks will rise by up to 40 percent during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Similarly, per CNBC, some experts are predicting the level of cyber risks is likely even higher than many are projecting now. So, as your employees continue working remotely for the foreseeable future, it will only become more significant for your business to ensure your employee’s cybersecurity.
In this article, we’ll detail why you need to increase your cybersecurity if you’re transitioning to remote work. Plus, we’ll cover five steps your company should take to ensure the cybersecurity of your staff.
Why Your Company Needs to be Aware of Cybersecurity Threats
It makes logical sense there would be an increase in cybersecurity threats as more companies increase their number of remote employees. But what precisely are these new cybercriminals doing to target your employees? Like many cyber threats in the past, current cybercriminals are using the heightened emotions and concerns of the present hours to prey upon unsuspecting individuals.
Recently there have been several email scams targeting healthcare workers. Similarly, other criminals are using fraudulent outbreak maps to deliver malware to their targets. Additionally, there have been numerous Coronavirus-themed campaigns that use PDF and Word documents to provide remote access tools, clipboard-copying, keystroke logging, desktop image capture, and other cyber threats.
These threats are quite similar to past cybersecurity threats that surfaced after natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy. But what’s changed, due to Coronavirus, is the sheer number of employees who now have increased exposure to cybersecurity threats because they’re working remotely.
So, as your company traverses the new reality of increased remote work, make sure your staff understands the gravity of these cyber-attacks. While not physically deadly, computer viruses can spread just as fast as human ones. Keep reading to learn five distinct steps your business can take to protect itself and your employees from these potential cyber-assaults.
Steps to Improve Your Cybersecurity
Your organization should take, but not necessarily limit itself, the following five steps to bolster your company’s cybersecurity.
1. Communication is Always Key
The best and easiest way to minimize the threat from cyber attacks is to keep your employees informed and up to date about Coronavirus-related scams, phishing schemes, and fraudulent websites. Designate one employee to keep track of these attacks and disseminate them to the rest of your staff.
This employee should distribute the news straightforwardly and transparently, making sure only to use cited, quality sources. Your employees must get this news from a transparent source rather than social media sites like Facebook or other potential sources of misinformation.
Your company should publish weekly cybersecurity updates. These updates should reinforce company policies, security protocols, clear lines of communication, and potential threats employees need to avoid. Similarly, make sure your staff has a distinct protocol through which they can safely report any suspicious activity, such as a questionable email.
2. Train Your Staff to be Prepared
As previously stated, your staff should both have and understand your company’s protocol for reporting suspicious activity. But your employees also need to be trained on how to recognize suspicious activity in various forms. Similarly, you need to teach your staff the basics of protecting their work devices while working from home.
For example, an easy, and one of the best steps your employee can take to protect themselves from cyber threats is to protect al devices with a strong and unique password. Additionally, making sure all your system’s updates have been applied is another easy way to build a strong cybersecurity foundation.
3. Use a VPN
You must encrypt your data at rest (data stored on a drive). But it’s also almost as vital that your employees are encrypting their connections too. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, sits on your device and creates an encrypted network connection for that device. VPNs make it safe for workers to access IT resources and essential data within your organization. Make sure your employees both have access to and understand how to use the VPN properly.
4. Multi-Factor Authentication
A VPN is a terrific way to provide your remote staff with an initial layer of security. Still, criminals can use credential harvesting to traverse your VPN alongside legitimate employees. But using a multi-factor authentication (MFA) tool can reduce the risk of a compromised VPN connection.
A multi-factor authentication tool requires a second source of user validation. Employees are required to enter a key texted to a secure phone, a pre-generated token, or another mechanism that’s tied to a certificate-based system. It’s important to note that an MFA doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of credential harvesting, but it certainly reduces it.
5. Don’t Use Personal Devices
Your remote workers must try to only communicate and interact with coworkers using technology provided by you, the employer. Typically, there’s a baseline of protective software installed in the background of company technology that keeps devices secure. This baseline doesn’t exist for most people’s own devices.
So, if a security incident took place on an employee’s personal device, your company and the employee, may not be fully protected. If you do allow connection via personal devices, consider limiting access to critical systems. Or your firm could use and enterprise device management (EMM) or mobile device management (MDM) tool.
These tools can minimize access from personal devices and enforce security controls on those devices. Additionally, if you allow personal device use, ensure these devices are running the latest manufacturer software updates before granting them access to any remote systems.
COVID-19 isn’t the only threat to the operation of your business, especially as your employees’ transition to remote work. Cybersecurity threats are only bound to increase, with a more significant percentage of employees working from home. Use the five steps above to protect your employees and the organization as a whole. And, if you want more establishing a secure and productive remote work program, contact The Olson Group, today!