The COVID-19 outbreak has had a major impact on businesses around the globe, with no certain end in sight. However, during these uncertain times, it’s important that all businesses continue to protect their IT to prevent even further damages and costs associated with data breaches.
Many businesses are reacting differently to the pandemic, with some putting their staff on leave, others laying off staff to help do damage control, and some cutting budgets to help reduce current expenditures. One large scale change that has affected the majority of businesses, however, is that their staff has switched to remote work.
Unfortunately, threat actors understand the complexity of switching to working remotely primarily and are looking to take advantage of those in this vulnerable position. To prevent hackers from accessing your data and causing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage at a time when the economy is already unstable, it’s important to take action.
Here are five tips for businesses to keep their IT secure during the COVID-19 outbreak:
1. Take Advantage of Cloud Solutions & VPN
With all your staff currently working from home, taking advantage of cloud solutions or VPN is essential to make sure you can access your data securely.
VPN is a virtual private network that can help those working offsite, i.e. your staff working from home, to safely and securely share and receive data from your in-house servers.
A VPN helps to ensure that all information within the business is being safeguarded through a private rather than a public network that connects to your in-house servers. With staff dotted all over the place and with different internet connections, it’s essential that businesses who normally rely on onsite servers use VPN to tighten security while working from home.
For those with smaller remote workloads or who don’t rely on in-house servers, cloud solutions can be a great way to store and access data securely. For many businesses, being able to access joint files and collaborate without the use of onsite servers is a huge advantage right now.
If you’re not already using VPN or cloud solutions, it’s important to implement them proprely in order to help strengthen your security and prevent hackers from taking advantage of your systems while you make the transition to remote work
2. Implement Remote Telecommunication
Many businesses have turned to various forms of telecommunication to continue their meetings and discussions with other businesses, clients, and colleagues. However, it’s important to make sure these methods of communication are secure.
One remote telecommunication option that can provide additional security to your company’s communication is VoIP phone systems. These cloud-based PBX phone systems can help your teams stay connected whilst keeping call communication secure at the same time.
Businesses can keep calls confidential, conference in various users, and allow their workers to use various devices to connect to the VoIP systems. So whether they’re using the home phone, their personal mobile phone or work phone, phone lines can remain secure.
3. Invest in Data Encryption and Backup
Almost all businesses use or store some form of sensitive information, whether that’s to do with the company itself, its staff members, or most importantly, its clients and customers.
During this pandemic, a weak security system can put that data at risk, and the last thing you want during the COVID-19 outbreak is to find that confidential data has been leaked or stolen. This can cost your company hundreds of thousands—even millions of dollars—in non-compliance fines, ransomware fees, and recovery costs.
To help keep businesses secure, investing in data encryption and regular backups is essential. This is even more critical now that your staff is working remotely. Having secure copies of all your data can protect you from costly damages associated with data theft and loss.
Not only that, but encrypting data is also essential when your staff are working from home. With your employees all over the place, it means that your company’s information is readily available to everyone of your employees’ households. It’s critical that you encrypt files so that only authorized users can access them. You should establish strong password protections, two-factor authentication, and security and data sharing policies to ensure all your data remains safe.
4. Reevaluate Current Processes and Automation
As mentioned previously, a lot has changed since businesses have had to start remote working. This can be particularly challenging when companies have not done remote working before.
As a result, more companies are taking advantage of video conferencing to hold meetings with other staff members and clients. They may also be implementing email autoresponders and automating certain workflow processes that might not have been done before.
As new technologies for remote working and process automation become even more visible, it’s important to assess how your company could utilize these tools to maximize efficiency and patch any gaps caused by fewer staff members or role shifting.
5. Outsource Your IT Support
IT support is an essential element of your business right now, and if you haven’t already thought about it, working with a managed IT services company can be a great resource to use to help you stay on top of cybersecurity.
By outsourcing this service, you can not only implement the tips recommended but also get expert knowledge from professionals who tailor IT solutions to your unique business needs. An MSP can also be a very cost-effective way of strengthening the IT department of your business, as access to a whole team of professionals from an MSP costs about the same as one salaried employee.
While there’s no right or wrong way to weather the storm and all businesses are different, there are a few things that all businesses should be doing to protect themselves. By maintaining stringent cybersecurity measures, you can protect your staff, your data, and your business and avoid exorbitant costs that could come from a data breach. Strategizing your security is one of the best ways to ensure you stay afloat during these uncertain times and see this thing through to the end.