As the coronavirus struck and lockdown began, many companies had to quickly change their ways. Instead of focusing on on-site networks and internal security, IT teams all over the world had to find a way to allow people to work from home without losing productivity. But haste is the enemy of perfection, and it only takes one small mistake to let hackers in. With more companies going remote and people buying online, hackers have been more active than ever, increasing their efforts to take advantage of the challenging times we’re living in. For example, cloud-based attacks rose 630% between January and April of 2020, and phishing attempts increased 600% since the end of February 2020.
This is quite alarming, especially considering that 60% of small- and mid-sized companies shut down within six months of a cyberattack. That’s why it’s crucial to pay close attention to online security when going remote. Here are the main practical measures to ensure a secure digital transformation:
Encourage the Use of a VPN
Since employees are working from home, they have to use an internet connection to reach your business’s system. From accessing documents with sensitive information to reaching your customer support platform, all information will have to travel miles to arrive at its destination. Criminals can take advantage of this by hacking data while in transit, even if it’s protected with the commonly-used SSL protocol. The best way to protect your business from this is by having all employees connected to a VPN while working. A VPN service encrypts data end to end, making it impossible for hackers to see what the user is doing online.
Create a Password Management Policy
If you haven’t been using it already, then it’s time to invest in a good password manager. Some companies prefer having the IT team create passwords for all employees, but this is unreliable when both parties can’t physically meet. In other words, IT professionals will have to send the password via an online message, which can be intercepted.
Password managers allow users to generate long and completely random passwords in just one click. Moreover, most providers offer specific plans for businesses that come with password sharing and team vaults for multiple users. This way, people from the same department will be able to access common accounts without having to ask their colleagues for the credentials – mitigating the possibility of a cyberattack.
Get Secure File Sharing Software
Most companies that operate on-site have their own internal network that employees can access while connected to a docking station or a cable. This mitigates the risk of a cyberattack but it doesn’t suffice when everyone is working from home. Besides a VPN, there are other solutions that you can get to allow employees to securely access your infrastructure from anywhere, such as physical security tokens. However, this can be quite expensive, especially considering the affordable prices of cloud-based services that specialize in file sharing. OneDrive and Dropbox are some of the most popular options, but some VPNs (like IPVanish) and password managers (such as Keeper) offer bundles that come with these same features.
Train Your Staff
Over 20% of data breaches occur due to human error. So, it's essential that you train your staff members in cybersecurity. If you don't have specialized personnel for this matter, we recommend hiring a security consultant to do it for you. While enforcing policies of using a password manager and a VPN is a great help, it’s not enough.
Opening phishing emails, working from an unprotected network, or using the same password for every account are just some examples of how hackers may take advantage of lax security to exploit your employees. Consequently, it's crucial you get everyone on the same page and provide the necessary learning tools to ensure your staff understands the risks of working from home.
Among many things, the pandemic has been called the ultimate use case scenario to understand whether remote companies work or not. It’s certain that many organizations won't return to their old ways after the pandemic is over, as it offers a better work-life balance for employees while allowing you to save on office rent. However, this is only possible if you take all the required steps to ensure a secure digital transformation.