The covid-19 pandemic led to a rapid and dramatic shift to remote working, which left many small businesses vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches. Suddenly, small businesses are facing a whole new range of threats that they may not even be aware of. Whilst offices are generally equipped with secure measures to protect your company, your employees’ home networks are easy targets for cybercriminals.
Fortunately, however, there are steps you can take to strengthen your barriers and protect your data whilst working remotely. It’s essential to ensure that your employees are following the best cybersecurity practices, and there are further measures you can put in place to keep your small business safe in the “new normal.”
1. Protect Your Networks
Allowing your employees to work remotely using their standard home network leaves your organisation vulnerable to a cybersecurity attack. It’s much easier for hackers to infiltrate home networks and so you need to weigh up your access options.
- VPN: a VPN is a virtual private network that creates a secure ‘tunnel’ between your business network and employees’ devices, offering an extra layer of protection that is difficult for third parties to break through.
- Portals: a portal is a virtual desktop that your employees can log onto to access company data and applications. This keeps your information secure in one place and allows you to restrict access to certain sites and software within the portal.
- Direct application access: this allows your employees to work remotely within certain applications only, limiting the amount of data at risk. Direct application access is a very low-risk option but it may also hinder productivity.
2. Use Multi-Factor Authentication
One password just doesn’t cut it anymore. Multi-factor authentication requires employees logging into company accounts or portals to verify their identity using a code sent to their phone or email. This means that even if a cybercriminal gets ahold of an employee’s password, they still won’t be able to log into any company accounts. This extra layer of protection is simple yet very effective.
3. Separate Business and Personal Use
If your employees are using company-issued devices to work from home, it’s prudent to restrict access to certain programs and data. Many apps have tracking codes or malware that could present a risk to your business, so make sure that your employees use company devices for work purposes only.
4. Consider Mobile Devices
Smartphones are ubiquitous these days and many employees use their personal devices when working from home for functions such as email and business communication platforms, such as Slack. These devices can present a cybersecurity threat, so make sure that employees use a multi-factor authentication system to access these accounts from their smartphone.
It may also be worth considering mobile device management software which will enable you to locate the device and wipe it of company data in the instance that it’s lost or stolen.
5. Provide Regular Training
Without the safety net of strong in-office protection measures, it’s more important than ever to provide your staff with regular cybersecurity training and ensure that they have an up-to-date knowledge of the best practices to follow.
A study by IBM found that human error contributes to 95% of cybersecurity attacks, so employee education is the most powerful way to keep your business safe. Ensure that thorough cybersecurity training is part of the employee onboarding process and make it a priority to regularly provide comprehensive training sessions.
Work Remotely and Securely
Remote working certainly presents a new set of cybersecurity challenges for small businesses, but it doesn’t have to render your company vulnerable. By providing staff with relevant and comprehensive training and protecting your networks, you can mitigate many of the cybersecurity risks that come with working from home and reap the benefits instead.