Top cyber risks for professionals working remotely

The quick spread of the coronavirus triggered an equally quick transition toward a remote workforce among many organisations across the globe.

The quick spread of the coronavirus triggered an equally quick transition toward a remote workforce among many organisations across the globe. Due to the abruptness of the shift, cyber security may not have been a top priority as organisations focused on the health, safety and resilience of their workforce and business.

Cyber-crime is a growing problem. Cyber-criminals have identified opportunities to exploit vulnerable systems, resulting in data breaches and acts of fraud. Businesses therefore need to bolster their cyber security to protect their business and their clients. 

What is cyber-crime?

Cyber-crime is criminal activity that either targets or uses a computer, a computer network or a networked device. The most common cyber threats to businesses are online scams, phishing emails, malicious domains, and malware. Cyber-criminals or hackers generally commit cyber-crime for financial gain and employ hackers or organised cyber-crime groups that are highly technically skilled. In some instances, cyber-crime can be politically motivated or a personal attack. 

Phishing email scams were first encountered in the early 90s, and have since evolved to be much more sophisticated. An email could appear to come from trusted organisations like Microsoft, with sender details very similar to what you would normally expect. Often the message will be urgent and require you to click on a link or attachment. Another way cyber-criminals use email is to hack an email account and send emails impersonating the account owner. 

What is the cost of cyber-crime?

Cyber-crime can cause loss to your business in a variety of ways:

  • Financial: Direct monetary loss from responding to the incident, including remediation, legal costs, compliance fines and lost revenue.
  • Time: An important consideration is the time it takes to manage a cyber-attack, the lost hours from you and your employees responding to the incident.
  • Reputational: Cyber-attacks can result in an ongoing impact to your business from a public relations (PR) perspective – clients may not trust businesses if there has been a data breach. Managing the PR exposure is as important as managing the direct financial cost.

What is the biggest cyber risk to professionals?

Whilst technology and antivirus software can provide a level of protection from cyber-crime, hackers may still find a way to break a system. Human error is the biggest risk to a business’s cyber security as employees can make a number of mistakes that could lead to data breaches, such as:

  • Failing to install software security updates
  • Using weak passwords or sharing passwords
  • Falling for phishing email scams.

7 Ways to protect your business against Cyber Crime 

Cyber insurance can help mitigate the loss your business faces in the event of a cyber-attack.

  1. Make sure your business security software is current and update it regularly - Having the latest security software for your business goes a long way toward protecting against viruses, malware and other online threats.
  2. Advise staff to lock or log off their computer when they step away - This ensures that no one else will have access to any information they are not privy to.
  3. Work offline when internet connection is not needed - If your businesses computers are always connected, it increases the chances that hackers and virus scans can invade individual computers or your entire business network.
  4. Take advantage of security settings - Advise staff to use PINs or passcodes to protect someone from easily accessing all the information on their work and private smartphones, tablets, and computers. For social media websites and apps, your staff should be aware of the privacy settings and change them to suit their comfort levels so only the people they want to see information can see it.
  5. Consider sharing less online - Inclusion of information like birthdates and the cities where we live on social media profiles can give criminals a more complete picture and make it easier for them to steal identities.
  6. Think twice about using public Wi-Fi - Hackers can easily connect to public Wi-Fi and watch our every move, including what passwords and account information we enter whilst connected. To keep information safe, we recommend that colleagues should not use public Wi-Fi or avoid entering private information and using apps that have passwords when on public Wi-Fi.
  7. When in doubt, don’t click - Cyber criminals can compromise your business information through tweets, posts and online advertising, in addition to emails. If it looks suspicious, just delete it. Beware of anyone who implores you to act immediately.

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