Chances are, you are working from home more these days, and so are your employees. There are always security risks inherent in working remotely, but because you likely weren’t prepared to go fully remotely as quickly as you did, you may be even more at risk than you think.
In fact, there are some common mistakes that small businesses are making right now that are leaving them vulnerable to cyber attacks, data breaches, and more. Don’t forget: Hackers often go after small businesses, simply because they are usually easier targets, and they can provide access to other organizations.
With that in mind, now is a good time to review your cybersecurity protocols, and determine where you may be lacking. Fixing these problems now can mean the difference between safely working remotely and dealing with a major incident in the midst of an already trying time.
Every single device that accesses your network, whether in-house or from remote locations, is an endpoint. When your team is working in the office, using company-provided devices, protecting the endpoints is fairly stratforward; after all, when every computer or mobile device is managed by your security team, it’s easy to keep endpoint protection up-to-date automatically.
With everyone working from home, though, it’s a different story. Not only are your employees accessing the network using connections that may not be 100 percent secure, it’s also possible that they are using personal devices, which may or may not be up-to-date with the latest security protections. The result is a perfect storm of risk, which can be mitigated with a robst endpoint protection strategy. This includes protecting individual devices, as well as ensuring that your network and cloud-based services are properly configured to ensure only authorized personnel have access and that their log-in credentials are secure and properly used.
If you’ve put all of your eggs into one basket, security-wise, you may be heading toward disaster. As a small business, you might only have a single person managing your IT. What happens when they are unavailable, though? Or if a problem occurs that’s beyond their knowledge base? And even if you do have a well-trained team, what solutions are you using?
All too often, small businesses rely on a single security option, assuming it’s going to keep them safe from all risks. That solution might be a firewall, or antivirus protection, or some other product. However, effective security requires a multi-layered approach that incorporates various tools. The firewall and antivirus protection are a good start, but you also need to incorporate hybrid cloud security tools, VPNs, two-factor authentication, encryption, and endpoint protection, and more to ensure a completely secure network.
Even with the most advanced, multi-layered approach to security, if you don’t back up your data, you will be at a loss should something go wrong with your network. Can you afford the lost time and money associated with a complete loss of data? Backing up your network and making complete copies is easier than ever, so there’s no excuse for not doing it. If possible, create two backups, one in the cloud, and a physical backup that can be stored offsite for safekeeping.
Regardless of whether they are using company or personal devices to work remotely, your employees should not be left to figure out security on their own. It is your responsibility to create a consistent security protocol, otherwise, a simple mistake can lead to big headaches for your business. At minimum, you should be insisting that employees have (or supply) antivirus software, a VPN for connecting to the company cloud, and a password management system.
Thorough training is also a must for securing your business when people work remotely. Just because your team isn’t in the office doesn’t mean that you should not be supplying reminders, updates, and ongoing education about security protocols and best practices. Make sure your team is aware of the latest threats and how to spot them, for example, and provide training on how they can secure their own home networks and devices, and work safely outside of the office.
Although an increasing number of small businesses have created business continuity and disaster plans, few of them addressed issues such as what we are facing today. Most small businesses simply weren’t prepared to send their employees home indefinitely. This only underscores the notion that you need to be ready to respond to emergencies, and have the technology and security plans in place to respond at any time, without creating gaps in data protection.
If any of these mistakes sound familiar, now is the time to correct them. Don’t wait until you have a security incident, or until the next emergency, to improve the security of your enterprise.