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Cybersecurity is a rising challenge and hackers are taking advantage of the pandemic by targeting vulnerable businesses with stretched IT resources. 

As millions of people spend more time than ever online – working from home and relying on phones, laptops and other devices to stay connected – cyber criminals are taking advantage of this increased reliance on digital tools. The widespread blended work-home life means that professional lines have become blurred for many businesses. It therefore means that more is required to increase awareness around potential cyber threats and understanding personal responsibility whilst working at home, as well as the importance of businesses ensuring secure cyber environments for their employees to operate in.

This new normal means that work and home life is now merged, with personal phones being used for business calls and business data stored on personal devices. Although employees have a personal responsibility to keep business data safe through online safety practices, companies also have a responsibility to create a secure cyber infrastructure for them to work within. Working practices are becoming more fragmented and adopting good online safety polices has never been more important.

What should I do as a business to ensure my sensitive data is protected?

  1. Provide employees with user awareness training – Humans are considered the weakest link in any organisation’s digital security system. They make mistakes, forget things and often fall for fraudulent practices. User awareness training involves a formal process of educating all your employees about how to handle computer security. This is a highly effective way of educating employees on critical issues to ensure proper procedures are followed, thereby reducing risk and keeping your organisation’s data safe.
  1. Protect personal and business devices from malware – Devices, both company-owned and personal, are synchronised with corporate networks to gain access to official information. This information needs to be guarded in several ways, but mainly through encryption, anti-virus and a decent firewall. Device encryption is the process of scrambling text to render it unreadable to unauthorised users, therefore keeping data safe from cyber criminals. Anti-virus software scans, detects and prevents suspicious files and software infiltrating systems. The software may prevent further attack by isolating and deleting infected files or monitoring internet traffic. A firewall acts as a shield between your network and the world wide web. It monitors the incoming and outgoing traffic and prevents suspicious packets from entering the network.
  1. Back-up data – The purpose behind online backup is simple and straightforward: to protect business information from theft, fire or other kinds of disaster. An online backup service is beneficial for businesses because it enables you to gain access to your data without restrictions on time or location. Several copies of data in different locations, including cloud storage, provides the assurance that all your information has protection if an unfortunate incident occurs. If you rely on conventional IT storage methods in one location, you risk losing all your data and being unable to recover it.
  1. Provide email protection – Phishing is one of the most sophisticated online scams and is rife in certain industries, such as travel. For instance, attackers are prone to creating fraudulent holiday refund emails and insurance scams to claim customers’ money. Email protection software can be installed on personal and company-owned devices and helps to prevent inbound spear-phishing, malware and spam emails entering your employees’ inboxes.