Even before the current Coronavirus pandemic, IT experts were explaining why the time to invest in cybersecurity is now. They argue that cybercrime is the clear and present danger for organisations of every size, sector, purpose and territory. After all, rarely does a day pass without another high profile name making headlines for all the wrong data breach, hack or cyber attack reasons. That disparate roll call of big brands ranges from Tesco Clubcard, Virgin Media and Marriott to British Airways, FIFA and even the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
What’s more, research suggests that data-driven applications will deliver $13 trillion worth of new economic activity by 2030. That means every kind of business – including your London-based small to medium-sized enterprise – will increasingly rely on, and benefit from, your IT and the data it provides. So the cybersecurity risks and your need to be able to protect yourself from them are only going to increase.
And now the Coronavirus pandemic, which has reached over 150 countries worldwide, has thrown our reliance on digital tools and the threats associated with them into sharp focus. With more and more of us working remotely, the cyber criminals have stepped up their game to prey on our fears and desire for information and reassurance.
So when it comes to Coronavirus here’s why the time to invest in cybersecurity is now
In this blog post we’re going to examine why small to medium-sized businesses here in London and beyond need affordable, powerful best-in-breed and best-fit cybersecurity solutions. Read on, then, to discover in this time of Coronavirus why the time to invest in cybersecurity is now:
- Three reasons why robust cybersecurity measures couldn’t be more important
- Where you can find the right solutions
- How to boost your cybersecurity hygiene standards
- Investing in cybersecurity – the upside to the downside
Three reasons why robust cybersecurity measures couldn’t be more important
- A greater dependency on digital infrastructure
In the Coronavirus pandemic the Internet has become the communication channel of choice and the cost of losing that resource has risen exponentially. The web has been a revelation and revolution, touching every aspect of our lives and today it’s the conduit for effective human interaction and the primary way we work, contact and support one another in the current ‘lockdown,’ whether that’s via video calls, social media posts or chat programs.
Here in the UK, the government has made digital the default mode of communication, asking us to rely on official websites for updates to avoid flooding everything from GP surgeries to phone-based information services with requests.
In this environment, it’s not hard to imagine the impact of cyberattacks on individuals, families, businesses and even governments. When we’re all so reliant on the Internet, devices and data, a cyberattack could cause anything from a little individual inconvenience to a widespread infrastructure failure that takes entire communities offline, obstructing healthcare providers, public systems and networks.
- Cybercriminals aim to exploit our fears and anxieties
In times such as these, with the Coronavirus pandemic prominent in all our minds, cybercriminals use our doubts, worries and need to know more against us to penetrate our defences.
In a prolonged crisis we tend to get careless, lack concentration and make mistakes we wouldn’t usually make, as we click or download something we shouldn’t in error. In fact, it’s reckoned that the vast majority of cyberattacks (perhaps 98%) deploy social engineering or human interaction methods.
Cybercriminals are ever-evolving, becoming smarter and more sophisticated, making attacks all the more difficult to spot and stop. They constantly devise new ways to exploit us and our technology to access passwords, networks and data. They will often capitalise on popular topics and trends – such as the Coronavirus pandemic – to tempt us into unsafe online behaviour.
For example, a recent global cyberattack targeted people looking for visuals of the spread of COVID-19, a perfectly sensible request. However, cybercriminals concealed malware in a map displaying Coronavirus statistics from a legitimate online source. Viewers were asked to download and run a malicious application that compromised their computer and allowed hackers to access stored passwords.
- The more time we spend online, the greater the risk
The more time we’re away from our usual places of work, the more bored we get, the longer we are online and the more overconfident and careless we become. We could then be tempted to fall for ‘free’ access to obscure websites or pirated shows, opening the door to likely malware and attacks.
Behind every request for credit card information or the installation of a new application lurks danger and threat. Just one wrong link clicked or document downloaded can cause havoc for your people, business, IT infrastructure, data and confidential information.
In a typical on-premises set-up, your centralised security systems will effectively cover an office’s Wi-Fi, mainframe and desktop computers. But the vulnerabilities these solutions don’t cover become painfully apparent when your team starts remote working on portable devices (from laptops and tablets to phones) after setting up their office at home.
Where you can find the right solutions
The good news is – especially for the small to medium-sized business community where budgets are tight – many new solutions have emerged to work for organisations of all needs, sizes and sectors.
Here are just a few examples of providers and services that offer security and peace of mind, combined with flexibility and scalability. As a result, these solutions change and evolve as your enterprise does:
- Verizon offers network detection and response cloud-delivered security platform that enables you to detect and explore problems across your system in near-real time; providing you with a visual tool for understanding and solving cybersecurity threats before — and during — a problem.
- Sophos, a security software and hardware company, allows you to easily view and manage computer security for multiple PCs and Macs located anywhere in the world.
- When your operation and your team need to have their digital periphery safe and secure – especially via resources and activities like Wi-Fi, e-mails, messages and data transfer — companies like Plume have developed artificial intelligence to deliver new forms of Wi-Fi that can respond to changes in usage in real time. By closely tracking how your Wi-Fi is being used and where threats are coming from, this adaptive Wi-Fi enables you and your team to be assured that the network stays secure.
- Gmail and Microsoft Outlook are both names you’ll recognise and, as you probably know, both have e-mail encryption built into their platforms. And if you keep your accounts password-protected, the risks of leaks and breaches are rare.
- Services like Microsoft 365 Message Encryption, are designed to keep e-mail communication as secure as possibleand help to steer you clear of bigger organisations where a large-scale hack is more likely to strike.
- For instant messaging, platforms like WhatsApp – which is end-to-end encrypted – remain the gold standard for safe communications.
- At a time when businesses need secure video communications more than ever, platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom are vacuuming up new subscribers at ever-increasing rates. The problem is, our knowledge about the security of these platforms is lagging behind. Our advice is that all your videoconferences should be password-protected and links should only be shared over fully secure communication channels.
How to boost your cybersecurity hygiene standards
Your strongest defence against Covid-19 is to simply get some basic personal hygiene standards in place – so the official advice is to wash our hands effectively and regularly in hot soapy water (i.e. for 20 seconds each time) and not to touch our faces.
Similarly then, your small to medium-sized business here in London can undertake some proven, common-sense cybersecurity and online behavior hygiene to help protect your IT infrastructure, data, IP and confidential information from cybercrime.
Here are the essential actions you should take to stay safe online:
- Get better at the basics
Check that you and your team working from home have long, complex router passwords for both your commercial and domestic Wi-Fis and that all system firewalls are active on those routers.
Also, ensure nobody in your business is using the same password across different accounts, applications, devices and social media platforms. That’s because cybercriminals rely on the fact that we tend to use one password for a multitude of purposes and will rapidly start trying to hack into your other commonly used resources in a process known as ‘credentials stuffing’ if they manage to discover just one password.
A password manager is an excellent investment to make the process of creating, using, sharing and recalling suitably long and complex passwords fast and easy for your team.
Finally, provide your team with a reliable virtual private network (VPN) for internet access wherever possible; note this should give everybody secure communications access wherever they are.
- Verify everything
In the current climate – in fact, in any climate when it comes to cybersecurity – you and your team need to become aware, wary, cynical and skeptical. Absolutely anything that looks too good to be true usually is.
So be far more careful than usual when installing software, clicking on any link, downloading any document or application and giving out any personal information. Only ever sign up to new services via a verified and trusted sources.
Make sure your team stops, thinks and checks when faced with any e-mail, text, website or message that looks suspicious. A phone call to verify the legitimacy of a communication takes seconds and could save you an age of grief.
Remember digital viruses spread much like physical ones. So any potential mistake or contact you have could very well contaminate others in your network and business, your address book or the wider community.
- Only trust official updates
There are two things to remember when it comes to updates…
Firstly, be sure to implement every update, patch and fix provided by all your systems, applications and device creators as quickly as you can – these help to keep those resources secure.
Secondly, only go to trusted sources of information regarding Covid-19, its spread and impact. Such sources include the National Health Service (NHS) here in the UK, the World Health Organisation (WHO) or Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Whether it’s online or off, we are all responsible for preventing the spread of Coronavirus, misinformation and cybercrime.
Investing in cybersecurity – the upside to the downside
We believe it’s essential for businesses of every size, whether here in London or elsewhere, to invest in effective cybersecurity now. Our shift to digital and the risks that come with it are moving too quickly to ignore. What’s more, these have accelerated massively in light of Coronavirus.
However, note that in a recent study by CMMI and ISACA, no less than 87% of businesses surveyed believed that strengthening their cybersecurity culture would increase profitability. So, investing in your cybersecurity could be a win-win situation.
Now is the time then for an informal, confidential and no obligation cybersecurity discussion with the award and accolade-winning IT support team for London, totality services.