COVID-19 has impacted businesses hugely this year in a variety of different ways, with one April report from the UK’s Office for National Statistics showing that 49.2% of adults in employment were now working from home. This astonishing shift has brought with it a huge increase in cyber threats, as employees must effectively assume the position of chief information security officer in their ‘home offices’. Today we take a look at what you can do to remain cyber resilient whilst working remotely…
The fact that virtually half of the employed adults in the UK are successfully remote working pays testament to the level of digital transformation witnessed in recent years and the growth in connectivity, as household internet penetration in the UK is now at 96% – the highest it has ever been, up from 86% in 2015 (according to Statista.com).
Anybody in a position that requires the use of a computer can now complete their various tasks from the comfort of their own home, but they can also do so in a cafe, restaurant, bar or their local branch of McDonald’s. Skype and Zoom are just two examples of online communication platforms that have replaced the standard board room meeting, with Reuters reporting a 70% increase in Skype users (according to Microsoft) back in March. Zoom users rose significantly too, but perhaps more significant is the fact that a total of 2,500 fake Zoom domains appeared on the web in May – coincidence?
Another interesting statistic was revealed in Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends 2020 report, namely that more than 21 million digital devices were purchased by UK adults during the first two months of lockdown, with a grand total of devices used each day in that period in excess of 170 million – an average of 3.5 devices used per person.
What does this all mean for the working playing field?
- There are more people than ever before working outside of the office, which means that the traditional office security framework needs an overhaul
- More devices are being used than ever before, which means that cyber criminals now have a lot more targets to aim at
The Coronavirus pandemic has been a game-changer and these facts above perfectly illustrate just how broad the canvas now is for would-be cyber criminals.
How can you try to ensure that remote working does not weaken the security of your organisation?
- Review your security policies and overall framework (if you have not yet done so)
- Adapt your IT security to add / reinforce IoT & BYOD policies incorporating ALL devices
- Clearly communicate all changes to all employees, with regular updates and training for ALL
At the start of the lockdown period, a large number of organisations allowed home PCs and other devices to connect to their networks, many of which were not equipped with best-of breed anti-virus and anti-malware software, amongst others. They invariably did so in order to ensure as smooth a working transition as possible, but it seems to have been a crucial factor in the resulting spike in cyber-criminal activity – researchers in May noted almost 200,000 coronavirus-themed threats in 7 days, a 30% weekly increase.
Clearly, attempting to maintain previous security policies nowadays is simply not viable.
As part of theICEway ecosystem of companies, CRIBB Cyber Security adopts a security by design approach to help clients in Maritime & Cruise / Travel and Healthcare. As a government backed certification body, we have guided organisations through Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials PLUS, and our experts are never happier than when taking a deep-dive into a security framework – contact us today to see how we can help you with yours…
IoT – Internet of Things
BYOD – Bring Your Own Device