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There has been an increase in the number of cyber attacks taking place during the coronavirus pandemic. Take these steps to protect your business from cyber criminals. 


As global governments enact plans for how they are dealing with the threat of the coronavirus pandemic at a macro level, individual businesses are faced with the need to interpret these directives at a local level. Social distancing measures have meant that an increasing proportion of all aspects of our lives will now be conducted remotely, and online.

For our professional lives, this means that an increasing number of our workforce will be turning to work-from-home arrangements. Essentially, we are now relying heavily on our digital infrastructure to allow us to maintain both the economic and social fabric of our society. This in turn has implications for how we maintain this infrastructure so that it keeps working effectively.

For private, mid-market and family businesses we are starting to see an increasing number of cyber attacks being perpetrated. Cyber security matters more now than ever.

The cost of failure is higher. Our heightened dependence on digital infrastructure means any breakdown or breech could have far bigger implications. Being able to work remotely is now critical as we retreat to our respective homes where we can. An inability to connect with individuals in disparate locations interrupts not only a single organisation’s ability to do business but has the potential to interrupt other business across the same supply chain.

Cybercriminals exploit these moments of fear and uncertainty. Preying on human weaknesses is a favoured tool deployed by cyber criminals in order to penetrate system defences. Already we’ve seen coronavirus themed emails and messaging on topics such as health updates, fake cures, fiscal packages and emergency benefits.

We are spending more time online. Human error is another common tool that cyber criminals use to gain access to our passwords, networks and data. As we spend more time online, the chances that we will make a mistake that opens a window for someone to illegally gain access to our systems simply increases.

Steps to protect your business from cyber crime

Private, mid-market and family businesses can protect themselves and their workforce by taking the following steps:

1. Take care of your technical hygiene

You should be doing this already but if you’re not up-to-date, now is a good time to for you and your staff to tick some basic items off including:

  • Ensure strong passwords are in place, not only for your computers but also for your home wifi.
  • Ensure that you have reliable VPN technology installed to secure your remote connections.
  • Check that the software that you currently use is patched with the latest versions of fixes.

2. Be vigilant

Educate everyone in your business that the incidence of cyber attacks is rising, the number of phishing emails and scams that are being circulated is increasing daily. If everyone is vigilant, then they will more likely be cautious and check that emails or texts they receive are coming from reputable sources before acting. Ask them to be particularly aware of poor grammar, design quality and false sense of urgency in any communication they receive.

3. Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA)

A number of software vendors are leaning in and are providing free or heavily discounted MFA software and helping customers implement this additional level of security in as little as two weeks.

4. Confirm your ability to manage logs remotely

Ensure that your IT staff are able to monitor your security remotely so they can maintain visibility across the network when working from home. This will allow you to proactively monitor your cyber environment and respond quickly if a potential attack is in progress rather than waiting until after an incident to understand what has happened.

5. Test your usage and bandwidth requirements

Confirm your usage and bandwidth requirements with real life scenarios if you have the opportunity, then take steps to test. Respond to any bottlenecks with methods such as rate limiting or prioritisation of users to allow you to function effectively.

6. Identify key personnel

Every organisation has people who are critical to the effective functioning of your business. Whether this be your owner or your key IT person, once you know who they are, have a plan for what happens if they are not available.

7. Think through incident response

When an incident happens, your ability to respond quickly is important. So now is a good time to think through what you would do in the event of an incident and who you would call to help you through it.

It’s important that you give your remote workers with straightforward, pragmatic guidance on how to use your business’ remote working technology – including information on identifying potentially dangerous emails. Unfortunately SMEs are increasingly being targeted by cyber criminals, and in times of turmoil, cyber crime increases. Aim to support your remote workforce further by running a helpline or online chat line that gives them quick and easy access for advice, or the ability to report any security concerns.

 

If you have any questions regarding the content of this article and would like speak to someone from our team please contact us.