With coronavirus lockdown measures firmly in place across the world, many people suddenly find themselves working remotely. Among all the challenges that this entails - setting up a home office, getting the tech working, dealing with other responsibilities like kids, not to mention the general wide-reaching effects of the pandemic - one aspect is often neglected: Security.
This can be a fateful mistake.
With the corona-induced shift of (business) life online, hackers are seeing a golden opportunity. Consequently, the number of cyberattacks is surging, increasing by 37% in March alone.
If your business is indeed targeted and breached, the effects could be devastating. In 2019, the average cost of a successful cyberattack was $3.92 million.
So what can you do to secure the online operations of your (suddenly) remote team? Here are the 5 top tools and strategies to protect yourself from cyberattacks.
1 - Train Your Team to Recognize and Respond to Cyberattacks
Cybersecurity is everyone's job. Especially now that most people are working in isolation.
It's essential that every single person on your team learns what to watch out for. This starts at being able to recognize the signs of phishing mails, as well as suspicious WhatsApp and text messages, and extends as far as being able to tell when a computer has likely become infected.
Make sure to circulate information material, and get the word out if someone has received suspicious messages because chances are so will others in your organization.
2 - Figure Out Your Vulnerable Points
You got your remote working infrastructure up and running more or less smoothly? Congrats!
Now it's time to check for weak points in your system, which might be exploited by hackers. The most common vulnerable spots include:
Home Wi-Fi, running on older equipment
Legacy hardware virtual private networks (VPNs)
Personal hardware used by team members
Your company website
Some of these weak spots are easier to fortify than others. In any case, upgrading your password requirements, asking your remote team members to set their Wi-Fi up securely (by changing their network name, activating WPA2 encryption, and changing the router password), and doing an in-depth safety audit of your website, can go a long way to securing your online business life.
3 - Use E-mail Encryption
E-mail is one of the most vulnerable digital communication methods out there. It can be intercepted on the sender side, the recipient side and anywhere in between. That's why encrypting your e-mail - contact data, content, and archived mails - is a must for cybersecurity.
Some e-mail clients automatically encrypt messages, others will if you enable the settings, for some you might have to install additional plugins or separate software. It is definitely worth taking the time to figure out what the case is for you.
4 - Use AI to fight AI
Bad news first: Hackers are now widely using artificial intelligence to sniff out vulnerabilities of businesses they are targeting. Often successfully.
But here's the good news: AI can also be used to protect yourself from threats. AI can be used for the automated detection of attempted breaches, error analysis, secure authentication, and quicker response times in cybersecurity. A case in point is IBM, which employed AI in the company's cybersecurity efforts early on.
You don't have to be a programmer to deploy AI to keep your online life secure. There is a wide range of companies integrating the newest AI features in their security packages.
5 - Choose the Right Platforms and Activate Security Protocols
Finally, one of the most effective ways to ensure your online security is by enabling the security protocols of each of the platforms you are using, as well as choosing platforms that are more secure in the first place.
In many cases, programs and platforms - such as the Google suite including Gmail, or Microsoft's suites - offer additional security settings that are not activated by default. Enabling two-factor authentication, for instance, can go a long way to preventing security breaches.
Of course, you can save yourself a lot of headaches by taking a look at security features when you choose the tools for setting up your remote team. The video-conferencing giant Zoom, for example, has been criticized extensively for a lack of security features, which has led to a wave of 'Zoom-bombing'.
Switching to more professional and secure cloud-based business phone services can solve this issue.
The Bottom Line
It's worth the time and effort of upgrading the cybersecurity precautions for your remote team. Not only has the risk of breaches increased with the corona-driven expansion online life, but the potential costs of being hacked are also considerable.
By getting your team up to speed, figuring out your vulnerable points, choosing the right platforms, activating security protocols, and using tools like email encryption and AI, you can fortify your remote against cyberattacks.
So that you can be productive and focus on what you do best, rather than worry about hackers breathing down your neck.