Business guide to Coronavirus

How to protect your network

While COVID-19 has paved the way to working from home, it has also opened the gateway to hackers who have their finger on the pulse – looking to exploit vulnerabilities in work from home models. Businesses need to gear up to keep cybercriminals at bay. Here’s what you can do to protect your organisation.

An increased threat

As a result of the pandemic, many Australian organisations have embraced remote work in an effort to slow the spread of the disease – and to keep the economy ticking.

But having your organisation work from home can come with increased cyber security concerns. Employees connecting to business networks via potentially unsecure home or public Wi-Fi could expose your company’s private data to prying eyes.

Since the pandemic began, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has found malicious cyber activity across Australia was on the rise, many themed around COVID-19.

Here are five things you can do to dial up the digital security of your business.

1. Limit network access

All employees may not need full network access to complete their assigned tasks. Examine your workflows and determine the minimum network access each role requires. Restricting network access on a needs-only basis may help contain breaches and protect sensitive data against an organisation-wide hacker attack. 

2. Use Virtual Private Networks 

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) can be an effective way to secure remote access to your network. That’s because VPNs essentially encrypt any data that’s sent over Wi-Fi networks ensuring a secure connection to the companies resources. This helps to protect both your data, your employees’ personal information and their physical location from hackers.

However, if you consider engaging a VPN provider, assess any data or device limits they might impose.

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3. Implement multi-factor authentication

It’s vital to ensure remote users are who they claim to be. Multi-factor authentication makes it more difficult for hackers to break into your network through user or administrative accounts.

This way, users must enter their password along with a code sent to an employee-held security token or mobile phone to access your network. A fingerprint, or even an iris scan, could also be used to add a third layer of security.  

4. Update employee devices

When working from home, your employees may need to use their personal devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones. So it’s important all devices used to access your network have up-to-date operating systems and cyber security software. Any employee-owned devices that aren’t appropriately updated could prove to be the weak link in your cyber security armour.

5. Educate your remote employees

Some hackers will attempt to use socially engineered messages to trick employees into downloading malicious software, gaining access to your network or personal information from your employees. That’s a good reason to keep your team informed of the latest phishing techniques and current scams. For instance, ACSC has identified thousands of fake COVID-19-related websites that hackers have created to steal personal information from users.  

There is no denying these are challenging times for businesses on a variety of fronts. But as crisis management becomes the new normal, you should not lose sight of the ongoing threat of cybercrime. With employees splitting their work time between home and the office, tightening your cyber security is essential.