Remote working, cyber security and what you should be doing

Business Insights

Simon Kelf, CEO and co-founder of BCN Group talks about some of the cyber security challenges businesses face as a result of remote working and how they can ensure they are protected

When the UK government announced the Covid-19 lockdown at the end of March, businesses were forced to send all employees home to work literally overnight.

Four months on and we are only just starting to see a small number of organisations allowing some of their workforce to return, albeit with social distancing measures in place.

However, remote working will remain for many months to come and, it could be argued, forever as employees look to strike a better work/life balance.

But with cybercriminals currently working overdrive to exploit the weaknesses, business owners need to take steps to mitigate any threat.

This is certainly the case for those that were forced to quickly adapt to lockdown and the introduction of remote working – now is the time to take stock and make necessary changes.

Below, I discuss the key things to consider when it comes to IT and remote working including the solutions available.

The risks of remote working:

When employees work remotely, businesses must ensure that the same cyber security procedures are in place as when they are working from the office.

Remote working can lead to situations where staff are using unsecure internet connections, personal devices and accessing files via unsecure networks, all of which play into the hands of hackers.

As a business, you must make sure that remote workers are offered the same level of protection as they are when in the office, and that your systems and process are designed for working from home.

How to combat cybercrime when working remotely:

Devices – make sure that all employees are using a work computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone and not their own personal devices.

Changing devices for End User Devices will allow you to bolster control of the device, its data, authentication, security and interface protection. It also means your technical support teams can remote access end user and network devices to quickly resolve any issues.

Restrict user controls with advanced threat protection on these devices too. This helps to secure your business data by enforcing stricter user controls.

Virtual private network (VPN) – employees should be able to use your company’s VPN when working from home, and you may need to increase bandwidth to accommodate a rise in traffic.

Ensure that your VPN solution is secure and stable and, as part of this, that your company firewall has built-in VPN capabilities.

Staff training is absolutely key:

Human error is the biggest cause of cybersecurity breaches, so it is essential to train staff in cybersecurity best-practices even when they are working from home.

To do this, create cybersecurity guides and ensure that employees read them regularly. This should be combined with remote training using tools such as Microsoft Teams.

Introduce regular reviews:

The best protection is awareness. Introducing regular security reviews and audits will help everyone to be vigilant and have a constant awareness of cyber security risks.

It will also identify and plug any gaps in your armour and help to enforce and lessen any potential threats before they arrive.

How to facilitate both remote and office-based working:

The greatest challenge facing businesses over the coming months and years is facilitating both remote and office-based working while ensuring they are protected from an IT perspective.

There are plenty of products and services available to help, and one of the most important is cloud networks and computing.

By migrating to the cloud, businesses can offer safe and secure remote and office-based working, with the option to scale up and scale down usage in line with their needs at the time.

For example, it might be that for the next two months staff continue to work from home, putting additional pressure on the company’s VPN and networks.

But then as more employees return to the office, this pressure is reduced and so too is the bandwidth required to power VPNs and networks.

With the cloud, businesses pay for what they use so over the coming months may need to increase their investment in cloud bandwidth, but then reduce it when employees are back.

This is the way businesses should be working, regardless of Covid and remote working – the cloud provides the best platform, the highest levels of security and is the most cost effective.