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During this period of change, SME business owners will be seeing an unprecedented number of their employees working from home. For many, a key priority will be to maintain their organisation’s cybersecurity at a time where normally office-based workers will be away from the office. Below, Scott Lester will look at some simple steps business owners can take to protect their companies and maintain security for a productive future.

Be diligent about the new threats

Businesses should also keep workers informed of the cybersecurity policies in place. Your employees must be able to access the information and resources they need to do their jobs, so keeping on top of remote-working access management and updated privacy considerations for employee access to documents, is key. Acceptable Usage Policies for corporate and BYOD devices should be robust and are relevant more than ever for home working. They include telephone calls as well as online meetings.

Ensure staff have good cybersecurity awareness and understand the ways in which hackers are likely to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to exploit any uncertainty created by the situation. This will prepare staff and means they are less likely to click on suspicious-looking emails, or indeed otherwise engage with phishing attempts.

Don't get locked out of anything

Enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) is crucial, as this adds an extra layer of security to any apps that your workers might need to access in order to work remotely. MFA works by asking users for an additional piece of information before permitting them to access their account. Such a system protects against any cyber criminals attempting to steal passwords. MFA by SMS is better than a password alone, but better still are systems that produce a prompt on a phone or require a temporary code.

A password manager is also advisable as this can help prevent the sharing or reuse of credentials; this works to generate and store unique passwords for every login. The logins and passwords are then stored within a secure space, where they are encrypted for safekeeping and access. For example, using the password manager within a web browser is advisable if it enables the use of strong, random passwords.

Both product types provide cost-effective solutions for businesses, so are especially suited for young SMEs who might have smaller budgets. For example, many cloud services and collaboration tools include MFA applications for free, so it is a reasonable requirement when sourcing possible solutions. Both solutions will aid workers in improving password security and reduce the risk of account breaches, helping to maintain safety and security.

Vigilance with video conferencing calls

When holding video conferencing calls, put in place reasonable security measures to protect against threats.  For example, make sure no one publicises the meeting and set a password for entering. The meeting host should also pay attention to who joins the call and who is present at all times.

Use a secure network

You can make working from home easier and safer for your workers by implementing a few simple steps. Encourage employees to change in-home routers to use strong passwords to improve Wi-Fi security. Enforce or encourage end-point protection such as antivirus products and disk encryption, and if possible use a VPN to encrypt traffic in transit. 

Give your IT team the support they need

We are all currently experiencing what is undoubtedly an unusual situation, and one which will be causing your business to make a high number of demands from your IT team to facilitate smooth remote working processes. This means your IT team is especially critical, so don’t make unreasonable requests. Try putting in place more streamlined processes for allowing staff to contact the IT team with queries, such as grading the urgency of the request, and ensure this process is clearly communicated to the company. You need all staff on board and understanding the difficulty of the IT team’s job at this time.

You should also ensure you are not pressuring the IT team to compromise security for the sake of expediency; if they are resistant to a new idea or a new demand, there will be reasons why. Trust your experts.

Don't expect people to work longer hours just because they are at home

With less of a clear demarcation between work and home hours, it can be harder for employees to switch off from work. Be conscious that typical ways of getting help and of collaborating won’t be as effective in the current circumstances, and that everyone will be having to adapt. Consequently, it is important to encourage a culture of increased flexibility and understanding, knowing that most people will be dealing with issues outside of work.

Working together and supporting each other will be crucial as businesses negotiate challenges thrown up by the global pandemic. Business leaders can move to safeguard their companies by empowering their IT teams and putting in place policies to ensure every member of staff remains vigilant and safe at this time. This, alongside implementing effective technology security measures, will allow the business to continue as close to usual as is possible.


Kate Buckle
Article by Kate Buckle
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