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Over the last couple of years, several tech companies such as Lyft, Spotify and Atlassian switched to a fully remote or partial work setup. Most of these organisations spent months preparing for the switch by training their employees, setting up remote work policies and ensuring the necessary infrastructure was prepared to deal with cybersecurity threats.
However, most companies were forced to make the switch overnight when COVID-19 hit. Very few got the chance to fully prepare themselves, leaving them more vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches. And this is precisely what cybercriminals are capitalising on.
Recommended Read: Securing your Hybrid Work Environment
According to the latest data from the National Cyber Security Alliance, there was a significant uptick in the number of cybersecurity incidents faced by businesses globally in 2021. The study found that most companies reported an increase in incidents, with more than 60% of companies indicating that the number of incidents had increased by at least 25%.
To keep up with the increased level of threat, you must update your security protocols and train your staff accordingly. We’ll go through that in the following section!
For starters, your existing protocols and training programs were created in a pre-pandemic world. Things have since changed drastically. Now, employees access critical company data through connections and devices beyond your control, making your company more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats than ever.
Failure to update company security protocols and training programs could lead to the following consequences:
Employee inaction and dip in morale: If you don’t train your employees to identify or deal with new types of security threats, they may feel helpless or indecisive in the face of an attack. Moreover, being in a remote setting, they may find it hard to ask for support.
Hampering of business growth: Cyberattacks hinder your credibility and reputation in the market. This can make it challenging to acquire new customers or retain existing ones because they don’t trust you with their information.
Business paralysis: There has been a massive rise in DDoS attacks over the last few months. And such attacks typically lead to website downtime, increased vulnerability and disruption of business operations.
Compromise of crucial business information: If you fail to defend yourself, cybercriminals will take everything they can, from confidential client data, patents, sales information, business plans and much more.
Financial implications: According to a 2021 report, the value of ransom demands has gone up, with some of them exceeding over $1 million. Worse: paying the ransom is not the sole financial implication. A breach could hurt your business in many ways: direct loss of funds, compensating your clients’ for leaking their financial details, repairing your reputation and much more.
Legal sanctions: If you fail to adequately protect yourself against cyberattacks, you could face everything from consumer lawsuits, hefty fines and sanctions to even a business shutdown.
To protect your company against cyberattacks and data breaches, you must constantly evolve and grow to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. If most of your employees work remotely, it won’t take much to breach your defences. All it could take is a password shared publicly on a team chat app, an accidental click on a phishing link, or confidential company information accessed through a public Wi-Fi connection.
This is why you need to have a new IT policy that directly addresses remote workforce requirements. Policy is often misinterpreted as an add-on in terms of security when it is in reality, the basis from which everything stands. Apart from that, you must ensure all employees receive additional security training.
Personal device security: If your company allows employees to work using their personal devices, it is your responsibility to ensure they are of a minimum standard. You must clearly define what is permissible and what is not – the type of devices, operating systems, and what are the expected security procedures when using the device for work.
Besides that, give your employees a list of all security, remote access, VPN and other tools they need to install before they start. Your employees should also be aware of the type of technical support you can provide.
Network security: Public Wi-Fi and home Wi-Fi networks are nowhere near as secure as the LAN connection in your office. That’s why you must enforce minimum-security standards to ensure employees don’t put company data at risk. Define everything from Wi-Fi encryption standards, Wi-Fi password difficulty, network security software, router safety guidelines and the types of devices that can be connected to the same network.
Also, the use of public Wi-Fi must be actively discouraged. If an employee has no other alternative, give them a list of essential safety guidelines they need to follow – secure connection, WPA3 compliance, websites to avoid and so on.
Cybersecurity training programs: Due to this sudden migration to a remote work setup, IT teams in most organisations are stretched beyond their limits. They have to take care of support requests and ensure data and digital assets are safe and secure. This is why you need to make sure your employees get adequate cybersecurity training and are equipped to deal with common and emerging cyber threats.
The training program must include everything from password management, using multifactor authentication, identifying phishing and ransomware attacks, guarding personal devices against cyberattacks, responding to cyberattacks and much more.
Cybercrime is on the rise across the world. The ongoing economic downturn is only going to make things worse. That’s why you need to ensure everyone in your organisation has their guard up at all times.
Purchasing a cybersecurity suite yourself could help but will not be enough to handle the current level of cyber threats. The best way to keep your business secure is to have a dedicated technology and cybersecurity partner, and we can offer a hand at that. Book a Free Discovery Call to talk to our team and hear tailored solutions from our specialists.
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