The Effects of COVID-19 on Cybersecurity

12 Jun 2020

The disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic allowed companies to explore new ways on how to continue operations while prioritising the safety of their teams. Through a work from home setup, online meetings and virtual conferences became the most important medium for many businesses as a means of communication with their remote teams. Despite the upward trend of online meetings, there is also a rising concern on how cybersecurity and data privacy would remain safe for many users. It’s natural for these concerns to arise, and it’s essential to understand the cybersecurity risks involved as we shift towards the next normal. It’s important to note that no business strategy is without its flaws. No approach can be perfect, so it is up to those involved to ensure that cybersecurity risks and issues are addressed.

A Rise In Online Issues

Consider the following for a moment. Before the outbreak, many companies had teams that worked from home or remotely. However, this was only a small fraction of their entire workforce, making it much easier to monitor and manage potential cybersecurity issues. Currently, however, companies are looking at up to 90% of their teams working from home. Combine this with not having much time to prepare and adapt for such a unique situation, you can see where the challenges lie.

It’s likely also that home-based networks are not as secure to those in your offices. The use of personal computers can not only be distracting (especially with all the news happening in the world), they may be vulnerable to scams or phishing emails. Research conducted by Cloudflare showed a 37% increase in illegal online activities since the start of the pandemic. On top of this, the report also said that phishing emails spread at a staggering 667% during the same period. It was determined that these scams were likely playing into the general anxieties of people about the spread of COVID-19.

Staying Safe in the Online World

On paper, these approaches may seem obvious. At the same time, they are some of the most practical ways people can protect themselves online.

Password Protection for Everything

It’s good practice to not only have difficult passwords for important files, but activating additional steps such as two-step authentication can be a massive help. This is also not just limited to confidential files or documents. For those working from home with other people, placing passwords on your hardware can also help keep all your work secure.

Watch The Networks You Use

When working remotely, there’s a chance that you may need to log into a public network to access the internet. Many security experts discourage this, especially if you are working with sensitive documents that can easily become a target.

Password protection applies to both hardware and software.

As with the practice of having strong passwords, you can do the same as well for your home network to further enhance security.

Separate Work from Leisure

With many teams currently operating at home, this can certainly be a huge challenge for them. As we’ve discussed previously, one of the ways they can stay productive is to create a workspace that is free from most distractions and can help with their output. Having a space to yourself at home also means lesser chances of your workspace being accidentally accessed or tampered with by others.

Stay Vigilant

This is perhaps the most practical advice that you can get from security experts. Even in an office setting, security lapses can still happen, mostly in part to human error. Having better insight and education to what phishing emails look like or how to spot online scams can go a long way in protecting others online.

Making It The Norm

Keeping yourself safe online should be something that is consistently practised. Not just professionally, but also outside of work. In our constantly connected environment, it can be easy to fall for false links, email schemes and other similar practices. These problems can especially be amplified by the current work from home situation that some are trying to exploit.

Being mindful of what you share and taking the necessary steps to ensure your online safety is a good start. Companies today are also understanding what benefits remote work can do for their teams during this global crisis. In doing so, they help their teams have secure working experiences online while also showing them what they can do to stay vigilant.

Recommended Articles:

  1. Understanding the COVID-19 Impact on Retail Businesses
  2. After The Pandemic: The Road to Business Recovery
  3. COVID-19: Workforce Strategies for your Business
  4. How to Stay Productive While Working Remotely