How to protect your employees from cybersecurity threats amid COVID-19

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How to protect your employees from cybersecurity threats amid COVID-19

The world has transformed homes into workplaces amid COVID-19. This has given rise to an old enemy: cybercrimes. 

At the onset of COVID-19, the Malaysian government announced a movement control order, restricting people from going to work. During this period (March 18 and April 7), cybersecurity cases surged by a whopping 82.5%, according to The Star newspaper.

Businesses are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks because their employees suddenly find themselves grappling with the unfamiliar territory of needing to troubleshoot many computer issues themselves.

Here are a few tips to help curb the risk of virtual infiltration of your remote working systems, accounts and devices.

Educate your teams on security and preventive measures

As the workforce moves to a “work from home” structure, they may not be as educated on the security measures required to keep hackers at bay. Help is further away too, with IT teams having to respond remotely, and valuable insights and instructions may sometimes be lost in communication.

US cybersecurity firm Sentinel Labs recently reported a rise of COVID-19 themed ransomware attacks, preying on unsuspecting users. Emails with malicious attachments are frequently sent out, often in the guise of fake employment termination messages or fake COVID-19 announcements, purportedly by WHO.

Make sure that you and your team are informed constantly about the specific kinds of cybersecurity threats that your organisation may be facing. 

Customer-facing employees, in particular, should be warned of the rise in hoax campaigns where scammers are sending out fake communications to partners “on a company’s behalf”, asking for sensitive information.

Set up security threat assessment and instructions

Sometimes, we just forget to carry out basic security checks (especially with overwhelming workloads). In light of this, it is best to provide your workforce with a simple set of instructions that they can cross-check on a daily or weekly basis. It can go a long way towards improving security. 

Go over the basics with these instructions. Make sure you cover steps like ensuring the wireless network has a secure password, never providing personal or financial information as a response to an email, reporting suspicious activities or emails to your manager or IT team, changing your passwords on a regular basis to make sure it is secure and other similar security measures.

Experts have found that neglecting these basic yet important measures is one of the main causes of cyberattacks. Get the basics right!

Incorporate Zero Trust Capabilities 

Zero Trust is a data breach mitigation measure. It abolishes the notion of a trustworthy network and removes the concept of trust in keeping with the philosophy of “never believe, always verify”. 

Using technologies such as endpoint cloud monitoring and micro-segmentation, a Zero Trust regime will dramatically enhance remote protection by fencing off your “safe surface”, composed of sensitive data, assets, applications, and services. 

This Zero Trust initiative can be an especially crucial component for specific industries and companies such as those involved in Fintech or developers of apps that focus on mobile payments.

Secure devices and applications for remote working

IT infrastructure is crucial for protecting a company’s systems. However, this alone might not suffice, especially when it comes to a remote workforce. In order to ensure that your security protocols are properly configured and operating smoothly, it helps to add security extensions in the form of specialised applications or security-focused solutions. 

Install firewalls on the devices of all remote workers and constantly install security patches whenever necessary. Make sure that all hard drives, USB drives and external drives are encrypted and company-issued to protect workers from theft or unwarranted access. Install remote-collaboration safeguard solutions to ensure that enterprise-level teleconferencing and collaboration tools are safe.

There are plenty of remote working security resources, systems and solutions available that focus on various aspects of cybersecurity. Research these solutions and adapt them to your workforce based on your preferences and requirements.

Conclusion

Businesses are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks because employers are being stretched to the limit between managing work-from-home employees and the volatility of the situation. 

Hackers often look to exploit vulnerabilities immediately, while companies and cybersecurity teams would sit and react based on situations, sometimes eating up valuable response time. 

For months now, health authorities have been urging people to do their part to flatten the COVID-19 curve. It is important to heed that advice, but let’s not forget cybersecurity, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, lest we give rise to a virtual one.

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