Keep Data Secure While You Keep Yourself at Home

Posted on 8 April 2020

As we all scramble to stay connected during a global pandemic, it’s important to remember that need to continue to protect ourselves both online and offline. 

We’re not sure about you, but we reckon lockdown life would be much more difficult to bear were it not for the raft of technology at our fingertips. Thanks to social media and communications platforms, our social lives can continue to flourish even in quarantine, distracting us from the pandemic and maintaining those important connections with the outside world.

Of course, in the mad dash to adjust to life under lockdown, we risk exposing ourselves to a different kind of danger in guises such as scams and vulnerable technology. If we’re going to get through this, we have to make sure we’re being safe – here are a few risky red flags to watch out for.

Learn to Spot Chancers

Unfortunately – even during a global pandemic – there are unsavoury characters who seek to take advantage of a situation. In this case, we’re seeing increased reports of social engineering scams, ranging from false promises around government grants to claims that an individual has been exposed to COVID-19.

While many of the messages used in these social engineering scams feature typos, poor grammar, and unsophisticated formatting, at a time of heightened panic, they can seem startlingly real – further raising the chances that individuals will fall victim, especially if they’re less computer literate.

Learning to spot these messages, raising awareness of them within organisations, and trusting only government-originating information is absolutely essential to ensure scammers don’t take what’s yours in this troubling time. Meanwhile, keep abreast of the latest scams circulating, and ensure you, your colleagues, your employees, and your loved ones are all aware of the lurking threats.

Choose Video Calls Wisely

While there are chancers looking to make a quick buck off the ongoing situation, there are also dangers lurking in plain sight – namely security shortcomings in different platforms people are using to stay in touch.

Thanks to video calling platforms, we’re able to carry on with a sense of normalcy, reaching out to friends and isolated members of the community, hosting classes, running virtual pub quizzes – we’re only limited by our imagination.

One of the most widely-reported upticks in popularity has happened for Zoom, a platform many businesses will already be familiar with in some capacity. Unfortunately, Zoom’s time in the headlines hasn’t always been a positive event, with its CEO admitting he’d “really messed up” on security, when reports showed that traffic had been routed through China, trolls were ‘Zoombombing other meetings, and recordings surfaced elsewhere on the web.

Granted, Zoom is moving to fix security flaws with new privacy measures, but it pays to remember that whatever platform you choose, do your homework on its security – and shop around, of course: Microsoft Teams, for example, is free to use, secure, and can handle as many virtual happy hours as you’ve got planned.

Secure Remote Working

That brings us neatly onto our final point – and one that has become increasingly relevant for organisations over the last few weeks. For some, remote working was already a large aspect of day-to-day life, but for many more, the lockdown and other governmental advice around social distancing has prompted a panicked restructuring to allow employees to work from home.

Alongside the stress of managing the associated logistics of employees working from home, there’s also the security angle to consider – and with many organisations pivoting quickly, security has all too often fallen by the wayside.

For a start, whereas Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture is a smart move, it needs to be balanced with a sufficient mobile device management strategy, whereby employee devices are centrally secured using a tool such as Lookout, automatically kept up-to-date via Microsoft Intune, and are fit for purpose no matter where employees are working from.

Elsewhere, ensuring that normal workplace security procedures – such as password protection through single sign-on, and proper use of multi-factor authentication – are still in effect, and are still being taken seriously.

It’s understandably a big shift in working for those not used to being stationed away from the office, but the transition can still be a safe on with the right initiative.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy

 At a time when our health – and the health of NHS teams, families, friends, and key workers – is paramount, the idea of expending energy on our online security might seem inappropriate. However, for data breaches and criminals, it’s business as usual, and it pays to be alert to the dangers organisations and individuals are facing in the digital space.

In short: stay at home, stay safe, and stay healthy – and don’t forget to stay connected, securely.

To find out more about how we’re supporting organisations as they embrace remote working and a disruption to business, get in touch with our team who are always happy to help.

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