Comment: cyber defences

Posted: 30/06/2020

BL68_C5_StaffordSlaterCyber crime has been on the increase during the pandemic. Staford Slater, Head of Network and Security at C5 Alliance, shows how to stay one step ahead

Cyber criminals have been exploiting the coronavirus pandemic by attacking people working from home. 

According to Action Fraud, more than £2m has been lost in the UK alone since the outbreak began. Channel Islanders have also been targeted through virus-related scams, phishing emails and other fraudulent activity. 

Part of the issue has been that adjusting hastily to a new way of working from home has led to security requirements being overlooked. Technology has enabled many to work remotely, but if robust security measures aren’t in place, there’s a greater risk of a cyber attack.  

There are a number of ways you can mitigate risk. For one, never share your personal information with anyone unless you are sure you know who they are. If you receive a suspicious email or message, contact a trusted member of your team so they can investigate further. 

Be realistic about your team’s productivity levels. The change in working environment, coupled with being overworked, might reduce their focus and attention to detail, making them more vulnerable to hackers. 

Sending helpful reminders about the risks and how to mitigate them will encourage your employees to be more vigilant.

Another sensible measure is to ensure your staff only use a secure network and that all devices have up-to-date antivirus software. 

Ask employees to check that their home wifi is secure and not being used by anyone outside the household. Their wifi network should be password-protected to prevent anyone else using it. If unknown devices are connected, the password should be changed immediately. 

Another line of defence is multi-factor authentication, which grants access only after inputting two or more correct pieces of information. This could be a password and a code that is generated by an app and sent to the authorised person’s phone. 

Your passwords need to be robust, so ensure they’re unique, include numbers and cannot easily be guessed. Also, use different passwords for different sites.

All remote laptops should also have full disk encryption enabled to protect data stored on the hard drive. This means that if devices are stolen, then the contents of the hard drive cannot be accessed by criminals. This will safeguard your intellectual property and any personal data.

Tools to trust?

Some technologies are safer than others – not least in relation to things that have emerged in popularity during the crisis. 
Some video-conference applications have security flaws – hackers were able to steal computer passwords and hijack meetings using Zoom. Make sure the technology you use is safe. 

Microsoft has a variety of tools that use multiple encryption methods, protocols and algorithms to protect your stored data and provide a secure path for data to travel through. 

Microsoft Teams is a central platform where you can communicate and collaborate with your team. Microsoft has seen a 70% increase in the number of users of Teams due to Covid-19, with 75 million people now using the technology.

Many of Microsoft’s tools use cloud technology to ensure that data can be accessed in real-time, anywhere in the world. 

By using cloud-based solutions, you can improve business agility, reduce costs, accelerate time to market, and enable expansion into new markets while improving compliance security. 

There are many different cloud platforms out there, so research the options carefully and ensure you choose a secure solution. 

Flexible working has become mainstream, and now that businesses have seen the advantages, it’s likely to be more widely adopted in the future. However, it’s crucial that security is taken seriously to ensure your data and reputation are protected.

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