Because of the mandatory restrictions of social distancing during the worldwide spread of COVID-19, countless businesses had to make an unanticipated shift from their regular office environment to remote work. Millions of employees and managers are now more self-reliant for the most necessary resources needed for work.
Most companies weren’t prepared for the change and didn’t have the appropriate infrastructure and resources for a smooth transition. Employees had to make do with using personal devices and home internet connection for work. This resulted in a mass cyberattacks crisis as the majority of home devices weren’t as secure as company-issued ones, making them easy targets for hackers.
Companies’ response to the shift varied depending on their readiness to working from home. According to the Washington Post, only 10 percent of businesses had complete preparations. Around 40 percent were somewhat prepared but still lacked infrastructure, and 50 percent weren’t prepared at all and had to rely on what they had at the time.
While some companies didn’t have to change much in terms of remote work, others needed to implement more changes to how they operate:
- More Devices– Working from home means companies need to secure more devices. Employees who didn’t have adequate equipment also needed to use company-issued devices.
- More Video Calls– Businesses have to rely on online video conferencing tools, but commercial tools aren’t safe enough to carry confidential meetings. Additionally, most employees weren’t trained to use such tools, which sometimes leads to preventable mistakes and compromised meetings.
- Less Supervision– The average employee doesn’t have a high level of cybersecurity education. They often need regular assistance from the IT team. Without help, employees might accidentally click on a phishing link or enter sensitive information into a fake website.
- More Attacks– Hackers took full advantage of businesses’ lack of preparations by seeking weak points in their new, shaky networks. The result was an unprecedented boom in cyberattacks since March 2020.
How Companies Can Mitigate New Risks
Now that the work-from-home situation has been going on for over six months with no signs of it returning to normal anytime soon, businesses that hope to survive need to secure their networks with what resources they have. As a business owner, what can you do to improve security?
- Use VPNs– A VPN is a convenient and relatively affordable way to encrypt data and keep it safe, as it doesn’t require much IT knowledge to install and use. Using a trusted VPN should be mandatory among all employees working from home.
- Cyber Security Training– Outdated cybersecurity training isn’t useful in the work from home environment. Employees need cybersecurity training to recognize new signs of attack, phishing emails, and fake websites.
- Protect all Access Points– A network is still a network. Protecting all its access points is the most effective way of keeping it safe. Investing in a cloud-based endpoint security system allows you to protect and monitor multiple endpoints at the same time while catching new attacks using machine learning, pattern recognition, and AI. Click here to learn more about cloud endpoint security.
- Device Restrictions– Make sure employees only use company-issued or company approved, secure devices for work. Accessing confidential information through an unsecured device can open the network up for exploitation.
- Regular Updates– Make sure all the software and OS are up to their latest versions. This reduces the risks of holes in the security that be taken advantage of.
- Passwords Matter– Implementing strict rules for password management and maintenance has never been more important. Educate your staff on what a strong password is, where to keep them, and how often passwords need to be changed. This includes making sure that passwords are all unique, not just slightly different.
- Implement Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)– Most services come with an MFA feature in place, and you can add the feature from third-party providers to all access points of your network. Use this alongside strong passwords as an additional layer of protection.
- Physical Safety Measures– If the employees use portable devices–smartphones, laptops, tablets, and smartwatches–stress the importance of keeping the devices safe from theft by never leaving them unattended or in a public area.
Stay in Touch
The situation with COVID-19 and related regulations are constantly changing, staying up to date with the latest information can help you make the next best move when it comes to your business. Make sure to ask for constant feedback from your remote employees. It’s a new and unique situation, and some people might have unique struggles that you need to address for everything to run as smoothly as possible.