In the shadow of COVID-19, businesses have been forced to adopt new technologies and adapt to new ways of working, mostly to positive effect. But without the proper safeguards, the consequences could be devastating.
As a software development company, we’re acutely aware of the pivotal role technology has played in helping businesses to overcome the challenges of COVID-19. At Salpo. we’ve long embraced tech solutions to facilitate remote working,, video calls, webinars, project collaboration, data sharing and more.
But while many businesses share these progressive practices, many more lack the experience, tools and processes required to protect their data, staff and organisations. Without this security infrastructure, any positive momentum could be lost. With that in mind (and a few spare minutes) we made this list…
7 cyber security steps every business must take now:
1. Make cyber security your top priority
This is pretty fundamental, obvious even, but cyber security must be part of your company culture. This is even more crucial when staff, assets and data are spread across multiple locations, mostly lacking the physical security of traditional business premises . Your mindset should be safety first and staff must know how to spot and report a potential security threat. Communication is key here, along with accountability and rigorous process. We’d recommend structured security awareness sessions, to ensure everyone is on the same page.
2. Ensure your network is secure
Use of public WiFi should certainly be discouraged, without a virtual private network (VPN) in place. If access to secure WiFi is an issue for your staff, you should consider making arrangements to support them, practically and/or financially. If you already have a VPN in place (for mobile or remote workers) you must ensure it’s geared-up to meet increased capacity.
3. Update your business software and hardware
Outdated software and hardware can suck the life out of your business. Slow speeds, inefficient processes, legacy file types, incompatible operating systems, the list goes on. All lead to a frustrated and unproductive workforce. But there’s an even bigger problem – outdated software and systems lack robust security protection and are far more prone to attack from cyber criminals, putting your data and business at risk. You need to ensure all devices have anti-virus software installed and that all software and operating systems are regularly updated to the latest versions.
4. Securely store your data and maintain backups
This really is a business no-brainer. While cloud technology adoption has accelerated massively in recent years, some organisations still lag behind. In the current climate, and with a remote workforce, this can create big security risks. If you have no alternative to storing data on physical servers, hard drives and other devices, you must at the very least ensure it’s regularly backed up. And if you’re late to the cloud party, consider switching all your operations to a secure data storage platform, such as those offered by Google, Microsoft and others.
5. Be wary of new video platforms
What proportion of people had even heard of Zoom a few months back? Now we’re all skipping between video platforms on mobile, laptop and desktop devices, for business and personal purposes. But hang on a sec – businesses must first assess risk and compliance issues, just like with any other new software. These new communication channels can compromise business and personal data and even create liability issues for organisations. You need to tread carefully, ensuring safeguards and policies are in place.
6. Take care of your email and messaging data
Mass migration to remote working makes internal communication more important than ever. Despite the proliferation of instant messaging platforms, primarily for personal use, email is still the go-to for most businesses. But our lack of physical proximity is fuelling an increase in the sharing of sensitive data, while presenting an opportunity for hackers. You need to regulate email and messaging app use, and ensure security tools are robust and updated. Better still, shift your sensitive and project-based communications to secure and encrypted messaging and collaboration platforms.
7. Protect your passwords and use multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a mouthful. To many, it’s also a hassle they could do without. But this is serious – the COVID-19 crisis has indirectly placed your business data at severe risk. It’s crucial for organisations to take control of their business-critical systems and safeguard password credentials from unauthorised access. So use MFA. And while you’re at it, choose secure passwords – unbelievably, 123456 remains the most commonly used password. Come on, people!
Some cyber security problems are unavoidable but it’s in your interest (and your duty, frankly) to make this a top priority for your business. There’s even more you can do but following these steps would be a good start. If you have any questions or need further information or recommendations, do get in touch.