The past several weeks have truly illuminated how quickly life can change in America. The next few weeks, even months, will likely also be filled with uncertainty. For many industries, remote-work options are being used to minimize exposure to the coronavirus COVID-19.
Many companies have had to make this transition quickly, which increases the risk of having inadequate security protections and protocols in place. And unfortunately, many hackers are using the global pandemic to target vulnerable individuals, companies, and even governmental agencies. The panic and confusion that has resulted from the rapid spread of COVID-19 have presented many opportunities for these individuals. The mass migration to a remote-working landscape across the nation has presented many opportunities for exploitation – and hackers taking advantage of it on a large scale.
Implementing a New Work Design
Some companies and organizations already had existing telework infrastructure and policies in place before coronavirus, but few have done it on a scale that we are now seeing. Simply put, this means there is more potential area for adversaries to attack. And while some companies had a certain level of preparedness, others may have little to no remote working capabilities. They are now in the undesirable position of trying to patch together technologies, platforms, and applications necessary to facilitate professional communications and document-sharing.
Fortunately, it can be done. Tools that enable video-, web-, and audio-conferencing can make meetings run seamlessly. Additionally, cloud-based storage platforms and document-sharing platforms can ensure that all workers – regardless of their geographical or physical location – can access, use, and share everything they need to continue working throughout the coronavirus outbreak.
Threats to Watch For
The biggest hurdle in implementing remote-work solutions lies in addressing security adequately. And while the coronavirus has caused everyone to shift directions and adapt quickly, overlooking security is the biggest mistake any company or organization can make. Cyberattacks, malware, phishing threats, and attacks on the vulnerabilities in network security and encryption are common. There are already news reports of phishing emails that are being disguised as legitimate information about coronavirus. And while we all want to have the latest news that we need (to protect our families and communities), it’s crucial to remember to vet all sources as you would even in the absence of a pandemic.
And no one is immune from the threat of attack. Large targets have included the US Department of Health & Human Services, as well as state and local government agencies across the nation. Some of these targets include the communities that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus. This trend means that no one is immune from a cyberattack, and all employees and organizations must be more vigilant than ever before to ensure the integrity of remote-working networks and protected data.
There are several fundamental tenets and necessary procedures that can be implemented immediately to increase security. When possible, employees should only use company-issued laptops and other network hardware. Using personal equipment, which is often outdated and lacks proper security software, is a tremendous digital security risk.
Additionally, companies should look at the security and encryption capabilities of every solution they may be using. Some web-based conferencing solutions may not encrypt the audio portion of the data stream, which again presents a huge security risk. So, while many of these solutions are easy to use, and best of all, free, they may not be the best possible option – at least not from a security perspective.
There is no denying that the level of security a specific organization or company needs will depend upon the industry they are working in; some, such as governmental agencies and clinical organizations, will require the highest levels of security possible. But no company should operate under the assumption that they are immune from digital threats, especially not during this historic and unprecedented pandemic. It offers too many opportunities for hackers to resist.
Technology during the coronavirus provides a tremendous opportunity. In the past, an event like this would have crippled – if not completely bankrupted- many companies. Today, many of these companies can continue to operate by offering remote-working options. But implementing these technologies and solutions should not be taken lightly. Security must be a top priority from the outset. Companies that do not have in-house IT staff may find the easiest and most affordable option is working with a managed IT solution. Consulting with experts may be the best way to identify the right option for your company.
Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning, and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.