Following the advice of the Government on Friday 27th March regarding unnecessary travel, most businesses are now operating almost entirely from home. Many businesses are utilising a range of technologies for the first time to ensure they can communicate effectively with their customers and continue to service them appropriately. Whilst technology can be empowering and is now, more than ever, a business essential it can also be a business vulnerability if not fully secured. Protecting your business during Covid-19 is critical at this time given the spike in Covid related cyber-crime.
There has been a particular spike in CEO Phishing attempts (where criminals attempt to encourage staff to transfer money under the pretence of the CEO’s instructions) and ransomware attempts (through clicking on attached links within emails or prompting the opening of email attachments). Cyber criminals are also exploiting the fact that many employees are working in an unusual environment during stressful times, creating a wealth of social engineering attacks and harvesting log in credentials. Secure working tips can be found here.
Supporting secure remote working
There will undoubtedly be additional pressures on IT budgets within businesses during this time. When finances are restricted and cash flow is important, we would encourage all business owners to use this time to reduce IT costs and make strategic investments, particularly around IT security. Here are some questions every business owner should be asking now:
- Are your staff using their own device to WFH?
If the answer is yes, have they got a business grade anti-virus installed? This is key in protecting your business- it will prevent viruses and malware from entering your IT systems through their device. 90% of home PCs and laptops have expired antivirus installed- which no longer protects them.
- How are your staff accessing business systems?
Some businesses use cloud-based systems, but many businesses still operate using physical servers on site. If you need to access your software or files that are hosted on a server, you should use a suitable VPN (virtual private network). These encrypted channels offer secure access between the server and the employee. A suitable business grade firewall is required at the business premise for this and will increase security significantly. These are in addition to the standard internet modems supplied by your internet provider.
- How is your data being backed up?
Some businesses will have backup solutions in place. This may include backing up to a physical device on site or cloud-based back-ups. However, work that staff are saving to local devices whilst WFH will not be captured in these backups. It is important to ensure that all current data is captured in the backups including work stored on personal devices during this period.
- What IT support have you in place to help support your staff?
WFH using new systems can be daunting and many employees find themselves overwhelmed by the experience. Many employees have been left feeling inferior and unable to participate in communication channels implemented simply out of fear. Simply by not being in the office has meant that IT support has almost disappeared in some businesses- this should not be the case! Professional IT support is essential to ensuring your business can keep operating.
- Finally- think GDPR!
We may be facing a global pandemic, but our regulatory responsibilities remain. As business owners we are responsible for the safe storage and appropriate use of data. It is timely to reflect on the following points:
- Is data being stored on laptops during this period? Are the laptops encrypted?
- Have staff been using personal storage systems for storing data including USB devices, external hard-drives or Cloud based systems (like Google Docs etc.,)? Can you implement an alternative solution like Microsoft 365?
- What information do employees have access to? Can you track logins or file access?
- Is the personal device been accessed by other household/family members? Who else has access to your data?
We’re here to help
We appreciate that this is a challenging time for many micro and small businesses and there may be many unanswered questions around technology and WFH. We are offering a free 30 minute consultation by telephone/ video chat to help business owners plan for secure remote working and to help them reduce their IT overheads/ implement cost savings. Drop us an email or call 074 9117034.
The Local Enterprise Offices have new Covid Business Supporting funding available including a Business Continuity Voucher worth up to €2500. The voucher is open to all businesses to apply and is not restricted to LEO clients. We would encourage businesses avail of this voucher to help with their digital transformation at this time. Vouchers can be applied for through the Donegal Leo website or simply click HERE
Working collaboratively using Microsoft 365
Microsoft Office 365 offers a secure platform for working collaboratively and has a wealth of functions including professional email hosting, file storage and sharing and videoconferencing from as little as €5.10 per month. Drop us an email to arrange your demo today!