For business management solutions email us or call 020 3004 4600

How all businesses need to be wary online in a pandemic world

As the number of employees remote working increased over the course of the last year after COVID-19 which forced many businesses to close their offices, more employees have been forced to work online as a consequence. On the other hand, this had led to increased threats and cybercriminals who will be looking to take advantage of the pandemic in the coming weeks and months if they haven’t started to already.  

The most common reasons for significant data breaches in the past have come as a result of out of date software, malware, phishing scams and stolen login details. However, in a recent report by Willis Towers Watson, there are a growing number of new threats that you should be worried about which come to include: domain name registration, scams or rapidly-deployed attacks that are related to COVID-19 or Coronavirus. 

The number of security breaches has rocketed with British AirwaysHackney CouncilMarriott Hotels falling victim to these breaches in recent years which has increased by two-thirds since 2014. Despite these increased risks, many businesses are failing to adequately protect themselves against such threats.  

It doesn’t matter what size your business is as many have been crippled by ransomware attacks which means they have no power or control over their data until they pay a ransom demanded by the hackers. Smaller businesses are at an increased risk of attack due to the availability of the information that cybercriminals require. It goes without saying that smaller businesses often lack the security capabilities of much larger, established businesses. 

The national lockdowns due to COVID-19 have made sure that remote working has had to be adopted and with this, businesses need to address remote access problems.  It is true that virtual private networks and multifactor authentication methods have provided that layer of protection for many businesses, however for those that are less up to date with technology have left themselves exposed to potential attacks. 

Through a virtual working environment, with both customers and staff using mobile devices at home, attacks via phone (“vishing”) and through applications or text messages (“smishing”) have rocketed upwards as well. With this type of attack, what happens is that SMS attacks will send people to another website which is vulnerable and compromised to allow them to take control of their device and steal their login credentials. 

This concern is flagged up even more by the fact that 88% of small business owners were worried about their company being in a vulnerable position and more prone to attacks than was the case before COVID-19 hit. The major challenge to these businesses is the fact that they are unable to afford many IT service providers, don’t have the time & energy that is required for cybersecurity or for some they don’t have any idea where to start the process. 

This is where Advantage can help your business as we offer a Cyber Security Certification solution that can help keep your business secure online. Furthermore, here are some more tips on how to protect your data from being compromised and to improve your cybersecurity. 

Give your employees training on how to identify and report cyberattacks 

The vast majority of potential hackers/scammers will look for a weakness in a company’s network system. However, the worrying thing is the fact that most of the general public are not prepared for this, with a recent Computer Disposals study revealing that just 5% could identify and differentiate between legitimate and phishing scam emails.  

One of the most important methods to combat this is to have a company-wide password policy for employees. This decreases the risk dramatically for systems to be at risk to brute-force attacks because every time a character set or password length is increased makes it harder for hacking programs to succeed. To give you an example of this, if your password contains just letters and numbers, a 10 character password is relatively easy to hack, however if your password uses numbers, symbols, upper- and lower-case letters makes it much more difficult to do so. Therefore, it is crucial that all your workforce understands how important it is to set a much longer, more challenging password. 

Ensure that you have the most up to date version of software applications installed 

Most hackers that look to hack into a company’s systems and data will usually try to go straight through the programs. This helps to highlight just why security companies pick up on these threats and keep programs updated regularly to stop this from happening. Therefore, it is important to regularly monitor and upgrade your software on all systems. 

Ensure that all your antivirus and firewall technologies are up to date 

The vast majority of people know this but a system that doesn’t have the latest firewalls or antivirus software updates can become more exposed to hacking.    

Next Steps? 

If you are a business that is looking for assistance with setting up remote working or looking for a tailored security solution for your business or a leading Managed IT support provider to take care of all your business needs then please get in touch with one of our IT experts now