At present, SME business owners are having to enable huge swathes of their workforce to work remotely. Many business leaders will need to ensure their company’s cyber security is preserved during a period where many IT-dependent workers are away from the usual security of their business’ physical location. 

Here, I outline some key steps businesses should implement to safeguard themselves at this difficult time and stay secure in the future.

Take caution when using video conferencing calls

Video conferencing should be accompanied by clear security measures to safeguard against cyber threats. Ensure no one publicises the meeting, and put in place a password for those attending. Make sure all meeting hosts are paying attention to who joins the call and who the attendants are at all times.

Business leaders should also ensure that employees are only using approved work devices which have the appropriate software installed on it for video and conferencing calls, as well as all work correspondence.

Multi-factor authentication

Putting multi-factor authentication (MFA) in place is vital, since this functions to provide an additional layer of security to any apps that your employees need to use or access when working away from the office. MFA requires an additional piece of information before allowing them to access their account, such as a single-use code. This system prevents cyber-criminals from compromising accounts with stolen passwords alone..

It is recommended that password managers are used to protect against password reuse and sharing. Password managers function by creating and logging unique passwords for each login. These passwords are then collected in a secure space, where encryption is added for further defence against misuse.

These products are both good and relatively low-cost investments for businesses seeking to protect themselves against cyber crime at this difficult time. Many cloud services and collaboration tools even include MFA support without an extra charge. MFA and password managers are invaluable in helping employees to increase their account security. They also reduce vulnerability to hackers as well as the risk of unintentional sharing, thereby serving to preserve security.

Provide support for your IT team

The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented threat to lives and businesses, and as such, will require an intense effort from your IT team to ensure remote working processes continue effectively. Consequently, your IT department is even more crucial than usual. Keep this in mind and avoid making unreasonable demands on people already working flat out.

Implementing more streamlined processes for enabling staff to raise IT queries is advisable. This can be done by rating the urgency of requests and making sure that workers company-wide are aware of the importance of not overloading IT at present.

Moreover, if your IT team seem unwilling to take on a new idea or demand, trust that they will have good reasons why. Avoid putting pressure on your IT department to sacrifice security for convenience. They’re your experts, so follow their advice.

Encourage the use of safe networks

Working remotely can be made safer for your team by following some simple steps. Promote the use of strong, random passwords for in-home routers to bolster security. Employees should also enable virus scans of any important computers, and make sure all software is up to date so they are protected from common attacks.

Be prepared for any new dangers

Companies must also ensure their employees are educated thoroughly about the cybersecurity policies being implemented, and the need for them.

They need to be able to access the information and resources available to allow them to carry out their jobs effectively, and so it is crucial that you ensure remote-working access management and updated privacy considerations are in place so that teams can access the systems and services they need to.

Usage Policies for company or BYOD devices need to be strong, and are more important than ever when remote working. This should include telephone calls in addition to online meetings.

Employees also need to have in-depth cybersecurity awareness and to be vigilant against the methods hackers might use to leverage the uncertainty and chaos created by the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. This reduces the likelihood a worker will open a suspicious email or engage in any other way with phishing scams or other cyber attacks.

Don’t overwork your team

With companies country-wide experiencing lockdown as they work from home, bear in mind that there is less of a distinct break between work and free time for all. It’s easy to fall into bad habits of allowing employees to answer emails and deal with tasks outside of their contracted hours, but avoid encouraging this.

Create a culture that rewards productivity not presenteeism, and ensure your workers are able to switch off and get some time away from screens.

Keep in mind that your usual business methods of collaboration will be more difficult, and that everyone is adapting to new pressures. Build an environment of flexibility and empathy so that employees feel supported and are happier.

Such ways of uniting and supporting one another will be critical for companies to overcome the obstacles raised by Covid-19. Business leaders can ensure their team stays secure by empowering their IT teams and implementing good policies so that all employees are educated and vigilant against threats. Coupled with suitable technology security measures, businesses can continue to operate successfully.

By Scott Lester, Cyber Lab Manager, 6point6