By Matthew Hodson, Valeo Networks
As employers have been transitioning their employees to remote working situations, cybersecurity threats have been increasing. With more and more people accessing Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) there are more chances for vulnerabilities and more targets for cyber attackers to hone in on. For this reason, employers should be taking every precaution to protect their assets, their systems, and their networks. This is especially true with smaller to mid-sized businesses. During this pandemic we find ourselves in, network monitoring is the key to avoiding these security threats.
Small Businesses Are Facing Cybersecurity Threats Amidst The Pandemic
During the pandemic, small businesses have found it difficult to maintain the same security measures they had in place before moving to remote working. Within the office setting, there is a certain continuity that we’re all used to. Adding in the variable of your employees working from home has added in more vulnerability to cybersecurity measures and attackers are looking to take advantage of this. In the office, your employees have probably had the advantage of secure networks with a process in place to weed out any threats. At home, these advantages are no longer in place and those behind the threats are aware of this.
Cyber attackers are using this time to their advantage, preying on these smaller businesses through a variety of different tactics. Let’s discuss a few of them you should be watching out for.
Phishing emails are those that make fraudulent attempts to access your information. They typically appear to be coming from a reliable, known organization and ask for your employees’ credentials. Essentially, the attacker is tossing out a “lure” with the hopes that they can “hook” into your business data. This means gaining access to information like account numbers, passwords, and usernames, among other things.
Cyber attackers have been taking advantage of the fact that remote workers have less security on their devices, making it easier for them to infiltrate your network. They’ve also taken advantage of those businesses looking for financial relief from the government, posing themselves as a government website with the promise of aid. Once they gain access to your information, they will start to do damage to your business.
According to new research, work from home networks have seen their malware attacks more than triple during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact is all the devices within your network are more vulnerable while being used remotely. Typically, your employees would be guarded from more robust security measures. But out of the office, these measures are not present in the same way as in the office. This makes the jobs of cyber attackers much easier and leaves your network more vulnerable to malware attacks.
In general, the more devices accessing your network, the easier it becomes for these threats to take advantage. Your security measures are probably being spread thin due to all the new devices connecting to your network and with the lack of security in place to protect them all.
Cyber attackers will take advantage of the chaos brought on by this reality. When your employees’ at-home setups are less equipped to protect from threats, your whole network becomes less equipped. These attackers will get a foothold within your general network and hold your data for ransom. It can be a debilitating reality for small businesses, but it’s not something we can’t protect against.
What Can Businesses Do To Protect Themselves?
Businesses need to be diligent in the precautionary measures they take with their work from home employees. Knowing the threats are out there and how they can gain access to your network is half the battle. So how do you take that knowledge and use it to protect your business? Let’s discuss some tips to avoid cybersecurity disasters.
Patching Your Software Regularly
It’s important to keep all your devices and programs up to date. Doing so ensures that the highest security measures are in place and that there are no “holes” in your network. Just as the name implies, software patches essentially “patch” up any of the weaknesses that can come with out-of-date apps or systems. It can become time consuming to individually ensure that all employees’ devices are up to date on patches. To solve this, you should consider utilizing patch management services or software. This will track all your employees’ devices and automatically distribute patches as needed.
Setting Up Firewalls
You’ve probably had firewalls set up and installed within your office setting. This should be no different when setting up a system for remote working. Firewalls create barriers for cyber attackers to have to fight through to compromise your network. A lot of times these cyber threats look for the low hanging fruit, without the proper protection in place. If they encounter a network with effective firewall protection, they will be more likely to move on to easier targets.
It would be beneficial to work with your Managed Service Provider (MSP) to set up and configure these firewalls, along with antivirus software for that added service of detecting and identifying malicious threats to your network.
Improved Network Monitoring
Probably the most important aspect of protecting your business through these times of remote working is an improvement in your network monitoring. Network monitoring allows you to keep tabs on your network at all times, even when your employees are not on the clock. It’s important to remember that even during the off hours, your network remains at risk. Partnering with a trusted MSP means that you get access to this luxury.
Being able to recognize any suspicious activity within your network, before too much damage is done, is going to save you from downtime and the costs it would take to recover. Having a team of experts on your side means increased confidence in your network security.
Don’t Let Cyber Attackers Take Advantage Of Your Situation
There’s no getting around the fact that the current situation we find ourselves in has caused a lot of change in normal business flow and headaches for business owners. It’s an unfortunate reality in the present, but that doesn’t mean we should allow outside threats to create more headaches and impediments to the process. Ensuring that your network is properly managed, watched over, and protected will give you peace of mind during these trying times. By making yourself aware of the information discussed here and taking the time to talk with an MSP that can properly implement the security measures and necessary managed IT services you need, you can effectively navigate through this pandemic, protected, and whole.
About The Author
Since he was 17 years old, Matthew Hodson has been advising clients on industry-wide best practices. That journey has taken him (and Valeo Networks) around the world before settling down right here in Phoenix. For over 20 years, Matthew has led the way for Valeo Networks with a keen eye for industry developments, a resolute approach to even the most stubborn technical issues, and a desire to help each and every customer find out exactly what they need to succeed.