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Many companies were forced to switch to remote working overnight when COVID hit. With attacks on the rise, failing to secure your remote workforce makes you a sitting duck for cyber attacks.

Over the last few years, large companies have switched to a fully remote or partial work setup. These companies spent months preparing for the switch by training their employees, setting up policies and ensuring the necessary infrastructure was in place to deal with cyber security threats.

However, many companies were forced to make the switch overnight when COVID-19 hit. Very few got the chance to fully prepare themselves, which left them more vulnerable to cyber attacks and data breaches. And this is exactly what cybercriminals are capitalising on. With attacks on the rise, failing to secure your remote workforce makes you a sitting duck for cyber attacks.

Risks and consequences of not updating your security protocols and training programs

Your existing protocols and training programs were likely created in a pre-pandemic world. However, things have since changed drastically. Now, employees access critical company data through connections and devices that are beyond your control, making your company more vulnerable to cyber security threats than ever. Failure to update company security protocols and training programs could lead to the following consequences:

  • Employee inaction and dip in morale: If you don’t train your employees to identify or deal with new types of security threats, they may feel helpless or indecisive in the face of an attack. Moreover, being in a remote setting, they may find it hard to ask for support.
  • Hampering of business growth: Cyber attacks hamper your credibility and reputation in the market. This can make it challenging to acquire new customers or retain existing ones because they don’t trust you with their information.
  • Business paralysis: There has been a massive rise in denial-of-service attacks over the last few months. And such attacks typically lead to website downtime, increased vulnerability and disruption of business operations.
  • Compromise of crucial business information: If you fail to defend yourself, cybercriminals may end up getting away with everything from confidential client data, patents, sales information, business plans and much more.
  • Financial implications: 2020 saw a significant spike in ransomware attacks. But paying ransom is not the sole financial implication. A breach could see you lose money, your clients’ financial details, your reputation and much more.
  • Legal sanctions: If you fail to adequately protect yourself against cyber attacks, you could face everything from consumer lawsuits, hefty fines and sanctions, to even a business shutdown.

How can you secure your remote workforce?

To protect your company against cyber attacks and data breaches, you need to constantly evolve and grow to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. The moment you lower your guard, there’s every chance a nefarious cybercriminal will look to exploit any vulnerabilities. And with most of your employees working remotely, it won’t take much to breach your defenses. In fact, all it could take is a password shared publicly on a team chat app, an accidental click on a phishing link, or confidential company information accessed through a public Wi-Fi connection.

Personal device security: If your company allows employees to work using their personal devices, it is your responsibility to ensure they are of a minimum standard. You must clearly define what is permissible and what is not — the type of devices, operating systems, applications and websites that can be accessed.

Besides that, give your employees a list of all security, remote access, VPN and other tools they need to install before they start. Your employees should also be aware of the level of access/control you have over their devices, the type of technical support you can provide and the company’s right to wipe/alter the devices.

Network security: Public Wi-Fi and home Wi-Fi networks are nowhere near as secure as the connection in your office. That’s why you must enforce minimum-security standards to ensure employees don’t put company data at risk. Define everything from Wi-Fi encryption standards, Wi-Fi password difficulty, network security software, router safety guidelines and the types of devices that can be connected to the same network.

Also, the use of public Wi-Fi must be actively discouraged. In case an employee has no other alternative, give them a list of essential safety guidelines that they need to follow — secure connection, WPA3 compliance, websites to avoid and so on.

Cyber security training programs: Due to this sudden migration to a remote work setup, IT teams in most organisations are stretched beyond their limits. They have to take care of support requests and make sure data and digital assets are safe and secure. This is why you need to make sure your employees get adequate cyber security training and are equipped to deal with common and emerging cyber threats.

The training program must include everything from password management, using multifactor authentication, identifying phishing and ransomware attacks, guarding personal devices against cyber attacks, operating/updating security software, configuring Wi-Fi, setting up VPNs, email usage, reporting/responding to cyber attacks and much more.

Time to strengthen your first line of defence

Cyber crime is on the rise across the world. The ongoing economic downturn is only going to make things worse. That’s why you need to ensure everyone in your organisation has their guard up at all times.

To find out how you can secure your remote team and your company’s IT infrastructure, contact us now.

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