Just as most SMEs had got to grips with the need for robust cybersecurity, along comes COVID-19 with a new challenge. With many employees working remotely, how do you enable them to be productive – and keep your business and its data safe?
With owners and managers scrambling to maintain business as usual in the days and weeks after lockdown, the priority was simply making it happen – fast – with employees using their own tech and devices in hastily arranged remote “offices” to stay connected and functioning.
I’ve heard great stories of ingenuity and determination not to be beaten by the virus. But there’s no doubt that remote working, without IT support close at hand, has increased the risks of attack by cybercriminals, who are of course on the look out for opportunities to strike. And we all know the potential consequences of a serious breach.
Some businesses may already have additional security measures in place to cover these new working arrangements, but for those who haven’t, now’s the time to make sure you’ve got the right protection. For me, there are three elements to consider – technology, policy and communication.
- Technology: With increased use of more vulnerable personal tech and devices, it may be necessary to increase your overall security profile with some additional cybersecurity technology. For example, establishing a virtual private network (VPN) ensures that remote workers can receive and transmit company data securely over the internet without the risk of it being intercepted by a criminal. Then there’s multi-factor authentication (MFA), like that used for online banking, which will prevent a criminal who has stolen an email address, username and password from being able to access systems.
- Policy: Be clear about your security expectations of your remote workers and do so in writing. This is for everyone’s benefit and most people appreciate clarity. For example, your policy statements would include requirements to stay connected to the company VPN when using a public Wi-Fi network, to always enable software updates to ensure that the lastest versions of operating system software are in use, to ensure all data and documents are being securely backed up and to use only complex passwords.
- Communication: Team members unfamiliar with remote working, and away from the support of their colleagues and IT professionals, may simply be unaware of the new risks and dangers. So, it’s vital to reach out and provide regular help and support, to stress the need to maintain the same safe practices as they would in the workplace during the normal working day, being vigilant about phishing emails, using strong passwords and restricting the use of the internet to purely work-related activities.
Clearly this is a new challenge, on top of the other stresses and strains of COVID-19. So if you’d like some advice and guidance about enhanced security for your remote teams, call us on 03300 886116 or email email@example.com – we’d be delighted to help.
Chief Executive Officer, The PC Support Group