Remote working during the Covid-19 pandemic: Top cybersecurity tips

Scott Lester is cyber lab manager at 6point6.

COVID-19 is having a relentless impact on business services and operations. Against the new backdrop of millions working remotely, the stage is clearly set for a renewed approach to cyber security. Technology changes must be coupled with clear guidance disseminated throughout your organisation, to help staff identify potentially suspicious activity and appropriately handle company  data. 

Layer your security 

One area in particular that subjects employees and the wider business to greater vulnerability is password-only log-in procedures. Instead, businesses should move towards Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), an entry mechanism that verifies the user’s identity through an additional piece of information, such as a one-time code. This added layer of security to any platform or application that employees use results in greater protection against cyber attackers targeting passwords, a more frequent threat in today’s climate. 

In order to further bolster account security , a unique set of credentials for each login should be created and stored in a password manager, which ensures all log-ins and passwords are stored and encrypted in a virtual safe. All of these measures make it harder for cyber criminals to steal and make use of stolen user credentials for crucial systems. 

During this time more so than ever, SMEs and startups need to take added measures to protect their business. Those seeking out cost-effective solutions shouldn’t have to compromise on security. MFA is often a core part of any package that covers online tools and services but it is important for the feature to be front of mind when deciding on a package. The options laid out are often budget-friendly for SMEs, with a smaller pool of investment to allocate towards security, but are well worthwhile to reduce the risk of employees being hacked. 

Transparency is key – keep your workforce vigilant 

Now is the time to ensure your employees are clued up when it comes to keeping vigilant against suspicious activity. Without the ability to just walk over to IT and ask questions, employees must be armed with the right training to spot when they are at risk of being targeted and the internal security protocol. 

The businesses that survive this challenging period will be the ones who communicate effectively with their staff on all the measures required to adapt. Therefore, this produces an opportunity to review and improve cyber security policy and best practice to make sure it includes more clarity on measures while working remotely. 

With Acceptable Usage Policies and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) equipment now part and parcel of keeping organisations secure against newfound threats, business leaders must ensure they have kept employees properly informed so they feel more confident to counter threats where necessary. 

Network security is a must 

Blanket security for network traffic is absolutely crucial to tackling cyber security risks. For non-cloud services, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) should be a core feature of your business operations so that the correct encapsulation and authentication systems are in place to handle and protect data accordingly. 

This process also provides employees with greater autonomy to ensure their own online activity as well as the businesses’ is more resilient to cyber threats. This can be done by changing their router passwords to not use default values, alongside conducting virus scans of their device’s, and software updates to keep everything up-to-date and sufficiently protected. 

Take sharper focus of video calls 

There have been a raft of claims and counter-claims about the relative security or vulnerability of the different video conferencing options during the current lockdown, but businesses can take added measures to protect their staff whilst maintaining an increased use of such products. 

Company security can help by creating a guarantee that only approved work devices with the correct software are given permission to access conferencing calls. In addition to this, video conferencing calls can have an added layer of protection if employees keep the meeting only in strict knowledge of those in attendance. The meeting’s organiser must take responsibility for registering all those that join the call and monitor who is present throughout. 

Streamline your IT demands 

With businesses forced to make rapid changes amidst the COVID-19 crisis, IT departments have been put to task to handle the heavy traffic as a result. Numerous technical hurdles have cropped up in the transition to remote working, making IT teams even more essential to ensuring business operations run seamlessly throughout this change. 

IT departments need to be given the best infrastructure to succeed. Companies should look to smooth out any complications by holding back on unreasonable requests. On top of this, a more refined process should be implemented for staff to contact the IT team. For instance, if not the case already, queries should be categorised by their level of urgency, which can be outlined by the IT department, helping to more efficiently mediate the level of requests throughout the day. 

The entire workforce needs to subscribe to the new IT protocols in place for the IT team to best perform its crucial function. IT teams most importantly should not be put in a position to compromise on security in order to resolve a query for practicality’s sake. If an IT professional places a request lower down the queue and provides solid reasoning, then employees across the business need to trust their logic and be patient. 

Tread lightly, tread patiently

The current pandemic has pushed millions of people and companies out of the traditional business environment and caused them to explore new ways of working. Those whose success and development amidst this challenging period hinges upon IT resilience will want to move rapidly towards implementing policies that create effective cyber security and vigilance across the entire workforce. The adoption of best practice cyber security solutions across different industries will set out a brighter, more efficient and protected future for all market participants in this new territory. 

Photo by Philipp Katzenberger on Unsplash

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech ExpoBlockchain ExpoAI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

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