The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the way we live in a myriad of ways. It posed an enormous risk to the health and safety of millions of people around the world and devastated the economies of various countries and industries. It also profoundly changed the way business is conducted. Government-mandated lockdowns forced people to stay at home, so businesses had to adopt remote work practices in order to stay afloat. But this gave rise to challenges — some are new, while others had already been around long before the first reports of COVID-19 hit the newsstands. Now these challenges have become too large to be ignored, especially in the new status quo.
One such challenge is cybersecurity. Criminals were quick to take advantage of the spike in the number of people accessing sensitive or proprietary data through personal or unsecured networks. Thus, more attacks occurred within a span of six months in 2020 than in all of 2019. These attacks revealed the inadequacy of current cybersecurity practices and infrastructures and the need to invest in better IT security.
Here are some of the lessons in cybersecurity businesses have learned over the last year.
The first and most important lesson learned was how past cybersecurity strategies largely ignored remote working. When the sudden and massive shift to work from home happened this year, businesses were mainly concerned about how to ensure continued operations with a distributed workforce. But businesses soon learned that home networks are not as secure as business ones, and there’s no telling how remote remote workers were handling sensitive information. The awareness of these deficiencies therefore led to businesses developing and implementing better technologies that will enable and secure remote work environments.
The cost benefits of remote working
While the shift to remote work was an unplanned and reactionary measure to the pandemic, it has resulted in a number of gains. Chief among these are the savings accrued from reduced overhead spending on facilities, maintenance, and fringe benefits such as office snacks and beverages. In addition, businesses were able to maintain productivity due to tools like video conferencing that have helped keep employees engaged. All these cost savings can be reinvested into improving cybersecurity practices to cope with the increased level of remote working.
Identifying weak points
Because they’re working from home, employees tend to use their personal devices for work. None of those devices benefit from the barricades, detection mechanisms, or preventative measures that company-issued devices employ. This means those personal devices are vulnerable to attacks and can be used as entry points to infiltrate the company’s systems. IoT (Internet of Things) devices are an even bigger security challenge because of their interconnectivity to other devices, making them tempting targets for hackers.
One of the easiest issues to address is the company’s security hygiene. This means ensuring that only approved and validated parties are allowed access to sensitive information. Improving security hygiene involves enforcing robust password policies. Only use strong passwords, and change them every so often. Also use multifactor authentication to further strengthen security.
Given the reasons mentioned above, it’s safe to assume that all work from home networks are inherently insecure, even with the implementation of VPNs. However, securing each employee’s home network is too complex and costly a task for businesses to undertake. It will be far more efficient to secure the endpoint by which all remote networks connect to the primary company network. This will be the most efficient use of every dollar you spend on cybersecurity.
COVID-19 has made 2020 a more challenging year than any of us could have predicted, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from it. Call F1 Solutions now to make sure your business is cybersecurity-ready for 2021.