The ongoing pandemic has brought with it multiple changes, both personal and professional. Small businesses have been forced to adapt rapidly to a new way of working, and one of the key challenges is maintaining cybersecurity while employees work remotely.
Many companies offered occasional remote working, but few were set up to enable all employees to do so permanently. Plus, the speed of the changes left IT teams little time to plan. Maintaining security in an unprecedented environment is daunting, and all this at a time when revenues have been limited or uncertain. But, by focusing on the basics and keeping positive, Cisco explains how you can establish and maintain a secure way to work remotely.
The outbreak represents a security challenge for IT teams and unfortunately, malicious actors are taking advantage of this and targetting victims with cyberattacks. The threat intelligence team, Cisco Talos, has found multiple malware families being distributed with coronavirus lures, inviting users to click on links about the pandemic, which is an effective approach due to the sheer volume of legitimate emails on the topic.
Maintaining security can also be problematic as small businesses may not have the infrastructure in place to support continuous remote working. Only 31% of SMSs use a virtual private network, 24% use multifactor authentication, and 27% use end-point security, according to a recent survey. These percentages don’t reflect the realities of modern-day threats, as around 80% of breaches involve compromised credentials. IT teams must contend with this new security landscape while increasing support for remote workers. Cisco explains the steps you can quickly take to put in a first line of defence.
Establishing and maintaining a secure network
When speed is of the essence, it’s critical to focus on the basics.
1. Protect workers from malicious internet destinations
Ensure you have a first line of defence against threats on the internet wherever users go, to stop threats coming through in the first place. Cloud-delivered services are available that provide secure access to the internet and usage of cloud apps everywhere. Remind employees to be vigilant and stay sceptical about emails on the pandemic to support your efforts.
2. Provide remote access to corporate resources
Limiting access to critical data and applications will help to protect the business – and not every employee will need every resource. After you have identified who needs what, implement a virtual private network (VPN) to enable secure access to the business network for employees on any device and in any location.
3. Verify user identities and establish device trust
Ensure that you can verify the identity of all users before granting them access to corporate applications. Multi-factor authentication protects your applications by using a second source of validation, to verify user identity before granting access. This process can be made very simple for employees, such as a push message sent to mobiles for them to tick, and it will ensure that all users are genuine.
4. Don’t try to create a lockdown environment
Don’t feel that you have to lock everything down. This can make it too difficult for employees to do their jobs. Remember, the first layer of defence can easily and quickly be put in place to keep people working safely without too many hindrances.
5. Don’t feel overwhelmed
We’re all facing an environment that’s extremely challenging right now. But you’re not alone, and it might be worth considering outsourcing or engaging partner support. Technology providers like the team at Cisco offer free or expanded licenses to help businesses with their security and collaboration needs in this critical time. Many of these services can be cloud-delivered, so no one will need to set up the infrastructure in the office.
Easing the pressure
Companies may be feeling a lot of pressure right now. But while security is important, it doesn’t have to become a huge, overwhelming project. Start with simple, cloud-based security solutions and you’ll quickly be in a strong position.
Use collaboration tools to ensure you can work on projects together with others. Using effective video conferencing platforms, with screen sharing and virtual whiteboards, can allow you to collaborate as effectively as if you were in the office.
Stay in touch with the teams that you’re supporting and share your experiences – not only about IT, but every part of your day.
And of course, be patient, whether it’s coping with children in the house or caring for others, we’re all working in circumstances that we didn’t choose or anticipate. Being flexible will help everyone to stay positive.
These are unprecedented times, but we’re all in this together. And by putting basic protections in place, drawing on the support offered by security partners and easing the pressure on yourself, you can make sure that security isn’t just another thing to worry about.
Check out more tips from Tech Connection by heading to the website, cisco.com, where you can learn more about small business security solutions and about how Cisco is helping to support small businesses to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.