But of course, these are not normal circumstances. Since the start of the global pandemic, entire workforces have been forced to work remotely and organizations have had to adapt, quickly, in order to survive in the face of COVID-19.
As a result of this seismic shift, small businesses have been faced with many technology and cybersecurity nightmares. In this article I’ll not only underscore the challenges – or tricks – facing organizations. I’ll also outline plenty of treats, in the shape of simple solutions, to protect and empower your small business for a fright-free working environment.
The challenges facing small businesses
Our Future of Secure Remote Work Report recently revealed the extent of the home working upheaval, where two-thirds (62%) of respondents still had more than half of their staff working remotely.
Additionally, 37% of respondents also claimed that more than half of their workforce want to continue working from home post-pandemic, compared to only 19% before the disease took the world by storm.
These findings aren’t unsurprising or necessarily negative. But with this sudden shift in working comes an increase in security challenges faced by small businesses. In fact, globally, since the start of the pandemic 55% of small businesses reported a 25% jump in cyber threats.
It seems cyber criminals have quickly cottoned onto the disruption and increased – and sophisticated – their attacks. Of which, email continues to be the spearhead – with 94% of malware delivered via email and phishing attacks accounting for more than 80% of security incidents.
On top of this, the explosion of IoT devices now used on a daily basis led to a 300% surge in cyberattacks of this kind in 2019. And this has only increased since the pandemic, as a growing number of employees use a variety of personal devices to connect to the corporate network.
In short, cyber criminals are looking to exploit the human firewall, the vulnerabilities of Office 365 and the weak spots of companies who have had to embrace digital transformation at a minute’s notice.
In the case of Halloween, cyber criminals would surely be the bratty neighbourhood kids who insist on giving you a trick. Or even worse, the spoilsports who turn off the lights and pretend they’re not home when the doorbell rings! Sacrilege.
Simple solutions to protect and empower your business
But all is not lost: continuing in the spirit of the season, we’re here to open the door, armed with plenty of candy. For more comprehensive solutions, our report is the real candy store. But we’ve compiled some of the key take outs, in the form of bite sized treats, to help protect your business.
Adopt a zero-trust strategy to verify the identity of all users before granting access to company-approved applications: protect the workforce, workload and workplace.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a natural first step in securing a scattered workforce, allowing you to verify the identity of employees attempting to access business assets.
Implement a VPN to provide a safe tunnel between users and applications so workers can stay productive and connected when they are working from home.
Use DNS to provide a crucial first layer that blocks domains associated with malicious behavior before they get into your network, or contains malware if it is already inside.
Secure Office 365: with email being the #1 attack vector, protection from phishing and other attacks requires an integrated, cloud-native solution that stops threats from internal and external senders.
Secure the last line of defense with endpoint solutions. Not only does endpoint security prevent cyber-attacks, it also rapidly detects, contains and stops malicious files before damage can be done.
Accelerate the strategic adoption of cloud-based security solutions to protect your workforce by delivering a seamless connection to applications in any environment from any location.
Realize greater benefits from existing products through a platform approach to provide visibility across multiple security solutions in a unified dashboard while integrating with third-party solutions.
Automate Security Operation Center (SOC) workflows such as threat investigation, hunting, and remediation to strengthen efficiency and precision, lowering operational costs.
Remember: people can be the strongest link in any defense. Encourage employee cybersecurity awareness and empowerment.
Small businesses need to raise awareness on the importance of adopting security-centric practices like learning to identify phishing attacks and practicing good password policy. Cybersecurity training cannot be a once-a-year, compliance-based training that employees dislike.
It must become a part of the culture! But where to start?
Today, a simple search of cybersecurity solutions presents you with a sea of products and services all claiming to be the answer to your small business security problems. Fortunately, Cisco SecureX can simplify your security with the broadest, most integrated platform on the market.
SecureX is integrated and open for simplicity, unified in one location for visibility and maximizes operational efficiency with automated workflows. In turn, enabling you to radically reduce threat dwell time and human-powered tasks to not only stay compliant, but also counter attack.
Watch this short demo video, request a call from our sales team, or see what SecureX customers say to see if our simple security solutions can help to protect and empower your small business.
In the meantime, I hope you had the opportunity to down your tools and embrace the joys of Halloween! Why not host a belated fancy-dress party on Webex Teams? Or, like me, get dressed up for the fun of it and spend your day working as [Batman].
Explore how Cisco have been helping to support small businesses to recover from the economic impact from COVID-19 here. Read more from Tech Connection about common cyberthreats facing small businesses – and how to defend against them.