How to protect your business from COVID-19 cyber-attacks

Written on 08 May, 2020 by Julia Hammond
Categories NewsTags coronavirusCOVID-19cyber attackscybercrimecybersecuritymicrosoft teams

Now that Australia is adjusting to a home-based economy, concerns around the security of home internet networks and the capacity of corporate networks have naturally arisen given their heightened importance during this period.

As the ‘digital office’ host, protecting your business from external threats is critical for business continuity, particularly as COVID-19 related cyber-attacks are now on the rise. While the way people work and conduct their professional lives has significantly changed, there are a number of proactive measures you can take to defend your new online workplace while your employees adapt.

1. Bringing the office to the home – online protection and VPNs

Companies that pivot to the online workplace securely are at an added advantage of minimal disruption, ensuring their business can transition smoothly into the changing economic landscape.

Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 division saw a 569% growth in malicious domain registrations during February and March alone, with many using terms such as ‘covid’ or ‘coronavirus’ to lure potential victims. In the interest of protecting business technology from these threats, web safety and browsing need to be secured to mitigate the growing threat.

The best advice

Employees working from home will be further exposed to cyber threats, with home routers often vulnerable to outdated firmware. As a precautionary measure, secure their browsing through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that connects to the corporate network remotely, offering the same protections of website filtering and the corporate firewall for long-term business continuity.

2. Prioritising password protection in video meetings

Now more than ever, businesses are reliant on video conferencing and digital collaboration tools to boost morale, maintain productivity, and retain some semblance of the office environment. Whether that’s for important meetings amongst your team or external meetings with clients.

With recent vulnerabilities exposed on platforms such as Zoom, it is important to ensure that privacy remains a business priority and hosting data is encrypted to secure confidential information from outside sources. Not all collaboration platforms were made the same and some will have more security features than others.

The best advice

Password protect your meetings so only people who receive your invitation link are granted access and configure privacy settings to be notified when someone joins, screening for any anomalies. Like any application, some platforms are safer than others, so critically examine the existing hosting platform to see if its right for your organisation. Microsoft Teams is a great example of a secure platform, processing more than 8 million security signals every day and backed by Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) for video and audio.

3. Phishing for answers – build awareness by educating employees

Your employees are one of the most unpredictable variables in securing against data breaches themselves. With IBM reporting the average cost of a data breach could be as high as $5.52 million AUD, your employees are the most important investment you can make to decrease risk.

Though many of us regard core cybersecurity principles such as ‘don’t click links from unknown sources’ as common sense, the reality is that in a high-pace environment spurred by the added stress of rapid change in COVID-19, mistakes can happen. It is important to remind employees of these practices, so the organisation’s security remains top of mind.

The best advice

Phishing emails can be prevented through email screening services and corporate firewalls, but it is essential that teams are reminded of the risks. You should offer the necessary resources and training to prepare them for the possibility of cyber threats.

Other than an increase in usage and attention, we are at no more risk technologically during COVID-19 as we were before it. The difference lies in the way we respond in a crisis and it remains as important as ever to remain vigilant, think critically and stay calm to protect yourself and your organisation from the threat of any cyber-attacks.

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