How to Prepare your Business for Cyberattacks 101

Over the past year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, workers all over the world have had to make the transition from working in-person to working remotely from their homes. This transition has brought on a whole new set of stressors to individuals and businesses. Whether it is your kids interrupting your Zoom meetings or your Wi-Fi constantly failing you, this new style of working can bring serious challenges. As we continue to transition to more remote work in the future, one of the biggest obstacles remote businesses will face will be coming from behind our screens:  cyberattacks. 

Due to a new, and at times, less secure, working environment, individuals and businesses need to adapt and prepare for these cyberthreats that so many are already experiencing. The sense of physical security that you may have had at the office must shift as you begin to focus on the necessity of increasing your cybersecurity measures. 

It is predicted that 6 billion people have experienced a cyber attack by the start of 2021 and that cybersecurity spending has increased to roughly one trillion dollars. Through malware, ransomware, phishing, and other malicious cyber attacks, a business’s IT infrastructure can be threatened, giving the attacker access to sensitive business, financial, and personal information. Cyber attacks are also relatively new threats to businesses and individuals throughout the world, which means many of the dangers are still unknown and will continue to evolve and change over time. That being said, in a world where these types of unpredictabilities exist, we must do everything in our power to prepare, as individuals and as a team, to ensure uninterrupted safety and success for all. 

Since we can no longer walk over and ask our friend in the IT department for tech assistance and advice, in order to boost your cybersecurity while working from home, here are some great tips to get you and your company started.

  • Strong Passwords & Password Managers: Every business should encourage its employees to to create secure passwords that cannot be easily guessed. Individuals should never save passwords to their devices or continuously use the same password for every account. As an extra precaution, change your passwords every few months with the help of a password manager. This can help employees create and store complex passwords that cannot be easily guessed or forgotten.
  • Update Software: Another tech savvy tip is to always ensure that the software on all of your work devices is up-to-date. Newer versions of software are able to protect from vulnerabilities found in other updates. Ideally, each new update is more secure than the last. Going off of that, be sure to not download any softwares without the permission of your employer or administrator.
      • VPN & Multi-Factor Authentication: It is essential for employees who are working from home to connect securely. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is able to protect your identity online by hiding your data, IP addresses, and browsing history on the Internet. VPNs are able to give your employees privacy and anonymity when working remotely. Multi-factor authentication is another tool that will promote cybersecurity and secure connectivity by only allowing someone to gain access to a website, portal, or app once they have provided at least two pieces of evidence that can confirm their identity online. 
  • Invest in Risk Mitigation: As an employer, especially when all your employees are working from home, you want to do everything possible to mitigate any potential risks and vulnerabilities that may appear. If you have a cybersecurity expert already on board, or you are looking to hire someone new, it could be extremely helpful to have someone who is experienced and qualified to monitor for network attacks, scan for vulnerabilities, and be able to identify any potential threats on the rise. It is always beneficial to be prepared for any situation. 
  • Backup, Backup, Backup! Working remotely brings a lot of uncertainty. You never know when something can go wrong that could throw off the course of business for an extended period of time. That is why having a backup plan is key. Start thinking of a backup method of communication, that does not involve internet based communications, if your system is compromised. Make sure you will still be able to reach your customers even if your initial approach no longer works. Create a backup plan to ensure that customers can still send and receive payments if something goes awry. Finally, always backup your files and have multiple copies in multiple places.
  • Be Wary of Email: While emailing is a speedy and efficient form of communication, especially for when everyone is working separately, employees should be wary of the information they send in emails. Emails can be easily hacked, so it is important to never share sensitive information via email. If you are looking to add some more security to your employees’ emails, make sure everyone is utilizing email encryptions. Also, while this may seem obvious, be sure to never click on strange links or attachments sent from emails that are unfamiliar. These foreign links can open you and your company up to hackers and cyber attacks. 
  • Keep Track of Who Comes & Who Goes: With your employees working remotely, sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of everyone and what they are doing, yet this is a very important step to increase your cybersecurity. The company should try to keep track of every employee’s passwords, access to files and data, software, and accounts. This will be essential for the company when someone decides to leave or is terminated. You should wipe their device, take away any credentials, and remove access to teams channels like Slack or Google Drive. Even if this employee leaves on good terms, for the cybersecurity of the company, all preventative measures should be included in your standard protocols. 
  • Use Your Own Tools: Working from home everyday can become monotonous and repetitive and sometimes, people may crave a change in scenery. While this can increase productivity, employees must make sure to take precautions whenever they change their work spaces. If you are moving locations and sharing a space with someone else, bring your own router and connect to your own Wi-Fi. Or if you decide to work in a coffee shop, library, or other public space that offers free Wi-Fi, use your own hotspot rather than the one provided. Next, if there is a chance that the batteries on your devices will run out before you finish working, be sure to bring your own portable charger rather than using a public USB charging port. Bonus tip: never plug a foreign USB into your computer! Ever!
  • Educate Your Employees: Knowledge is power, and one of the greatest things you can do for your company is educate all of your employees on the risks of cyber attacks and how to prevent them. Educate your team on all the new tips and tricks that they could take to prevent an attack. Make them aware of what these cyber threats look like and what weaknesses exist so they can report any suspicious activity. If everyone is on the same page and working as a united front to secure their work and the business as a whole, then it is less likely for attacks to happen and more likely to catch one earlier rather than later. Whether this is through providing educational programming or starting this training beginning at the onboarding process, education and awareness can make a huge difference. 

While many individuals and businesses were not prepared at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to transition to this remote style of working, over the past year, we have adjusted and adapted to our new environments. Remote work is here to stay, and since this is the case, companies need to secure themselves and their employees from any potential cyberthreats. So many people working remotely, may seem like an ideal situation for a hacker, but if you are able to prepare your employees, invest in risk mitigation, and think ahead, you can continue to be secure and successful.

VForce is the first and only company to offer a comprehensive remote workforce solutions platform. For more advice on cybersecurity preparedness and how to set your employees up for success, follow us on social media @getvforce. Click here to schedule your free consultation and find out how our experts can help you today!