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Ang Hoecker

Are Your Remote Workers Keeping Your IT Safe?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many businesses think about how and where work gets done. According to a Gallup poll, as companies continue to adjust to a “new normal,” over three-quarters of workers with remote-capable roles anticipate some form of fully remote or hybrid work will likely remain.

While remote work has brought about new freedom related to where and when employees work, it has also opened the door to various cyber threats, especially for smaller businesses. In fact, Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report states that 58% of cyberattacks in 2023 happened to businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees.

What are the key factors small business owners should be aware of as they complete a risk assessment of their company’s technology? Read on for three essential steps to protect your small business from cyberattacks.

Secure Company Devices

When your team takes devices out of the office or uses personal devices to complete company work, your company’s network becomes vulnerable. Each device gives hackers an additional entry point to your network as employees interact with company files from their homes, coworking spaces, or coffee shops. Here are some ways to keep your documents secure in the process.

  • Require your team to use strong passwords and update them regularly. Passwords with reused characters or commonly used words allow for potential breaches.
  • Consider using two-factor authentication to verify that people and devices accessing your company network are legitimate.
  • Install a virtual private network (VPN) for end-to-end data encryption.
  • Ensure that company devices are running up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software.

Protecting devices is the front line of defense against unwanted cyber threats. However, even the best hardware safeguards have limitations. Small business owners need to consider additional layers of security in the form of network protection.

Protect Valuable Data

Your company’s data is one of its most valuable assets. Protecting it from cyberattacks is of the utmost importance. In 2023, “the global average cost per data breach amounted to 4.45 million U.S. dollars,” Statista reported. Financial losses of that size are often insurmountable; within six months of a cyber offense, 60 percent of small businesses close. Protecting your company’s network and data starts with three primary considerations.

  • Choose a cloud storage system that provides secure access to company files but prevents downloads. This will prevent employees from compromising your network with potentially infected file uploads. Use video and teleconferencing software with end-to-end encryption. As teams work remotely, they rely on systems that allow collaboration and high productivity. Make sure their conversations and sensitive information remain secure.
  • Protect financial data by securing project proposals and invoicing through an encryption program. Encryption will keep data secure, even if it ends up in the hands of a cybercriminal.

Secure cloud storage, teleconferencing systems, and data encryption will go a long way to protecting your company. Once you have invested in these systems, your next investment is in the continued education of your team.

Educate Your Workforce

After safeguarding hardware and infrastructure, human error can still contribute to cyber security vulnerability. According to the World Economic Forum, 95% of cyberattacks result from human mistakes. Employees require ongoing training to keep their company devices and networks secure as they work remotely. While security awareness training may be a significant investment for a business, it can save your company a lot of time and money compared to the cost of a cyberattack.

The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests training employees to be vigilant in the following best practices.

  • Staying away from questionable websites
  • Learning to spot and report phishing emails
  • Avoiding questionable downloads

In the end, being proactive is the only way to prevent a cybersecurity incident for your company. Securing hardware, software, and data and training your team will build a solid foundation for the safety of your business’ IT.

Applied Innovation’s security experts pride themselves on staying one step ahead of global cyber threats to protect your small business. Contact one of our cybersecurity support specialists in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, or Tampa, Florida, today to get started with a comprehensive security audit of your company.