Remote working was already gaining traction here in London and beyond, long before the Coronavirus pandemic hit us. In fact, the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) predicted that half of us would be working remotely by 2020. However, the virus has sped up this change in working practices, as most of us have heeded government guidance and made home our office. So now’s the time to find out how to stay cyber safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.

And you can’t hesitate here because – despite the pandemic – the cybercriminals are still out there. What’s worse, they’re probably rubbing their hands together in glee at the thought of easy pickings during this difficult time. It’s a racing certainty we’ll see an increase in cyberattacks as a result of the unique situation we find ourselves in.

So if you’re wondering how to stay cyber safe during the Coronavirus pandemic you’re in the right place

During this unprecedented period, cybercrime will present a clear and present danger to your IT infrastructure, data, IP and financial and confidential customer information. That’s why we’ve put together this blog post to give you and your remote working team some tips on how to stay cyber safe during the Coronavirus pandemic. What you’ll discover below includes:

  • Spotted scams during the coronavirus pandemic
  • When the only constant is change, here’s four things you can count on
  • The cardinal rules for cyber safety during a pandemic
  • Cyber safety tips for individuals
  • Cyber safety tips for businesses
  • Cybercriminals aren’t the only threat to your data
  • Our passion is your cybersecurity

Spotted scams during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Right from the pandemic’s get-go, a number of dangers have emerged and been noted as increasing in number in recent weeks such as phishing and ransomware attacks which aim to exploit people’s worries about the coronavirus, business e-mail compromise (BEC) attacks, where a cybercriminal breaks into legitimate corporate e-mail accounts and impersonates the owner to defraud the business or its partners, customers or employees into sending money or sensitive data to the cybercriminal.

When the only constant is change, here’s four things you can count on

You can be absolutely sure that cybercriminals will be exploiting London-based businesses and the current situation in at least four ways during the coming weeks. These include:

  • Counting on your remote working team to be distracted by the pandemic – and the rolling 24/7 news channels feeding that distraction – so they are not as vigilant as they’d usually be.
  • Creating new coronavirus pandemic-specific attacks, as per the phishing and ransomware threats mentioned above.
  • Isolating like most of the rest of us, as many will have legitimate careers and undertake cybercrime as a ‘side hustle.’ They’ll use any free time to create, plan and launch more attacks.
  • Aiming to utilise the historically tried and tested online scams and attacks because they’re likely to be even more effective now that the rest of us have got one eye on this damned pandemic.

The bad news, then, is that you and your remote working team have to watch out for a slew of new coronavirus-specific cyberattacks, as well as all the old ones, too.

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The cardinal rules for cyber safety during a pandemic

Before we get into the detailed tips to help ensure your people stay cyber safe while working remotely, here’s four essential warnings for you and your team…

  • Don’t login to any company website via an e-mail or text, if a company wants or needs you to login to your account, you should already know how to do that via the company’s own site or app, so you should only ever use a route you trust.
  • Don’t make payments via links in e-mails or texts, if you need to pay a company online, reach the payment page via the process you’re used to, by following your own research or by using a link from a document you already have, such as a contract or recent bill.
  • Don’t turn off any security feature because a document, e-mail or text requests it
  • Avoid opening unexpected, unrecognised or unsolicited e-mails or attachments especially if a document asks you to ‘enable content’ when you open it or make some other security compromise.
  • Don’t trust apps just on their creator’s say so

App reviews, positive comments, and high download counts are cheap and easy to buy and are as good as worthless when it comes to due diligence. A good reputation is earned, not purchased or self-declared. If in doubt, check with someone whose advice you trust.

The bottom line is that every individual and every business, whether here in London or elsewhere across the UK, has to be hyper-aware of the current heightened online risks and dangers and act accordingly.

Cyber safety tips for individuals

What to do:

Only go to credible and expert sources for Covid-19 information, such as The World Health Organisation (WHO) where you can find up to date information on everything from myth-busting to self-protection, and The UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Ensure you have antivirus protection on all your devices, and that it’s fully updated with latest versions.

Be ultra-cautious about providing personal information, to whom and why. Check and verify all requests for such information, especially those that come at you via e-mail, phone, text or social media message.

Do NOT:

  • Don’t open e-mails regarding Covid-19 from anyone you don’t know or source you don’t recognise – they could be phishing scams.
  • Don’t click on links in e-mails regarding Covid-19 as these can be used to spread computer viruses and other malware.
  • Don’t download or open e-mail attachments from unknown senders – these can also contain viruses and other malware.
  • Don’t click on links in social media messages, even if they are from someone you know. Your friends’ accounts can be compromised even without them knowing it.
  • Don’t lick on ads or social media posts regarding Covid-19 as they also may be fake and contain malicious content.

Cyber safety tips for businesses

Ultimately, when it comes to cybersecurity prevention is always better than the pain and cost of the cure. In fact, prevention is your very best form of defence for protecting your business, IT infrastructure, IP, data and confidential financial and customer information. And to prevent you have to plan ahead.

Whether it’s for the Coronavirus pandemic, transport system strikes (which are quite common here in London), severe weather conditions or just personal circumstances, the people in your team may need to work remotely from time to time. So you should:

  • Enable everyone to work from off-site locations.
  • Ensure all your people feel welcome to work from home when needed.
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Empower them to do so by…

  • Installing robust endpoint security on all devices so your team and your data stay safe, giving all your people access to a virtual private network (VPN) to help protect corporate data wherever they connect to your network.
  • Implementing measures to back up data saved on local devices while your team’s working remotely.
  • Adding collaboration tools so your people can continue to work together even when they’re physically in different locations.
  • Warning everyone about the dangers of phishing, malware BEC and a host of other risks washing around online.

Emphasising the need for every member of your team to stop, think and check before clicking on or opening anything they do not recognise. Even when we’re all working remotely, it only takes a quick phone call to verify the legitimacy of an unusual request.

Cybercriminals aren’t the only threat to your data

While the focus of this article is the threat cyberattacks pose to your business, IT infrastructure, data, IP and confidential information, they’re not the only threat.

Everything from adverse weather conditions such as flooding to burglary and fire can wipe out your technology, data and quite possibly your enterprise. So it makes good commercial and financial sense to:

  • Protect all your endpoint devices, from servers and computers to those portable technologies that are used remotely such as laptops, tablets and even mobile phones, with next generation cybersecurity solutions,
  • Create a data back-up routine and facility (such as the Cloud) to protect your important information and its availability, no matter what happens. If possible use what’s known as the ‘3-2-1 Rule,’ which means having three copies of your data, on two different forms of media with one complete copy held offsite.
  • Add protection for Microsoft Office 365, Google G Suite or any other collaboration platforms you use, so content stored and shared in the Cloud stays safe.
  • Choose a solution that includes device monitoring, tracking and remote erase functionality so that any lost or stolen technology can be located and wiped clean.
  • Train and educate your team so that they are an effective first line of defence for your business and data, rather than the weakest link in your security chain (which they usually are, through no fault of their own).
  • Ensure you use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) solutions that encrypt data and use two-factor authentication (2FA) when working remotely with other machines. This is because the presence of an open port within RDP allegedly led to a 37% increase in likelihood of a ransomware attack.

Our passion is your cybersecurity

Respected industry commentators are already suggesting – just a couple of weeks into the pandemic and the recent resultant surge in remote working – that this way of doing business could well become the new normal. It’s not hard to see why. You can imagine the potential for reducing the cost of business premises, the stress of commuting and our collective carbon footprints!

But whatever the future brings, our commitment and focus is always to keep your business, IT infrastructure, data, IP and confidential information safe and secure, today and tomorrow.

As London’s leading and accolade-winning managed IT services and cybersecurity team, we’ve earned Five Star customer service ratings from TrustPilot, Feefo and Google as well as a 98% client retention rate.

So if you’d like to know more about the best ways to protect your remote workers, why not have a confidential, no obligation chat about your requirements with the go to IT support team for London – totality services?

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COVID-19 Update: Face-to-face IT meetings have been temporarily replaced with Microsoft Teams sessions, and our engineers will be able to carry out IT assessments remotely.