COVID-19 and the Spike in Data Breach Cases: How to Protect Your Business

Worried that your business is vulnerable to a data breach during the era of COVID-19? For all the information you need to be prepared, you came to the right place…

With current events becoming less and less certain as time wears on, many business owners might be concerned. Not just concerned for the sake of their company and employees, but worried about how this extra exposure might affect their business.

With such drastic changes to the working system occurring so rapidly, hackers have taken advantage of this vulnerability. Because of this, data breach news has become a key worry for all business owners out there.

Although there are safeguards in case anything does go awry, including compensation for a data breach in the UK, it’s best to nip it in the bud. So, for some top tips on what your company might be at risk to, and how to protect yourself, read on…

How Has COVID-19 Caused an Increase in Data Breaches?

Data Breach

With the outbreak of COVID-19 came a huge alteration in the lifestyle of most individuals. Many workers became furloughed or were made redundant, and the rest have been sent home to work for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, although this is most certainly the right course of action, it’s also caused some major issues in GDPR and security. But why has this changed the cybersecurity landscape? Well, there are a number of reasons for this, including:

A Speedy Movement from Office to Home

Due to the speed in which we had to act, with the threat of the Coronavirus hot on our heels, many of the shifts to remote work were rushed. This could have caused a lack of preparation behind putting the new systems in place to safeguard the company.

For example, if the business wasn’t already set up for remote working, a mass purchasing of laptops may have had to occur. When these laptops arrived, they may not have been set up with all the correct installations in time to be safe. What’s more, workers may not have been trained on how to set up these laptops themselves, to avoid threats.

To add to this, there may have been little time to install any cybersecurity systems. So, whilst all of this was being put in place, and everyone was already at home, hackers had an open window to attack.

Shift to Personal Devices

What’s more, what with this shift, there may have been a movement to the utilisation of personal devices for working from home. Most personal devices aren’t set up with malware detecting systems, as they can be expensive for an individual to pay. So, where the usual malware protection systems in the office are in place, the same can’t be said for at home.

Home Networks Less Secure

To add to this, everyone is now using their own personal Wi-Fi networks to access the internet. On a day-to-day basis, you’d normally be connected to the office VPN, which is set up for potential hackers. At home, though, internet access and devices aren’t as protected from incoming threats, making us all more vulnerable.

Purposefully Making Devices Less Secure

In some cases, companies may have sacrificed security measures in order to make remote working easier for their staff. For example, removing admin permissions on a device could have been done to ensure the employees have complete access over the computer.

Another classic example could be allowing employees to work from their own personal laptops, without using the office VPN. This is obviously a great way to save money, but really leaves the company open to malware.

Whether the Company is Set Up for the Shift to Remote Working

Remote working

These days, many companies are already set up for a flexible or remote working situation. That said, this number is still not that high, which means many companies may not be set up to run the system from home.

It depends on the IT team; are they prepared to man the ship from their beds? Can they move quick enough, without the usual equipment in the office? Will the team be able to work as effectively together to combat potential problems?

All of these questions, and more, had to be tackled very quickly, and, for many, this may not have been quick enough. Even now, the systems are unlikely to be perfect, so it’s all about keeping up to date with changes and being prepared to face them promptly.

Lack of Preparation or Training for Online Threats

Due to the speed with which we all had to move from the office to home, new technologies and systems will have had little training behind their implementation. Without the time to go through it all in detail, several employees might not have the know-how they need to avoid threats.

What’s more, they might not have the skills or training even to recognise these threats, to begin with. Many hackers use phishing emails and websites to profit from unsuspecting workers. Employees and companies are at risk without the training to know what’s genuine and what’s not.

How Well the Response to Threats Will Be Managed

Finally, what happens when a threat is detected? With the entire team at home, security responses that would have usually worked in the office might not work at home. If the team hasn’t been trained to manage their incident response at home, how can they protect the company?

For example, if someone’s work laptop is compromised, how can an IT team member access the laptop to swerve the attack? Having these remote systems in place is the key, and many companies will not have them.

How to Protect Your Business from a Data Breach

Protect your business

As you can see, your business may be at greater risk of security problems now than ever. So, how to prevent data breach problems within your business is probably your next question, right? Well, apart from the usual “strong passwords and PINs” advice, there are some other tasks you should aim to complete:

Ensure Everyone is Working on the Office VPN

An office VPN is a great way to protect a company from potential threats, as the information is encrypted, shielding it from any potential hackers. So, any sensitive information that is being handled should be dealt with through the VPN. By ensuring all your employees understand this importance, you should be protected much more fiercely.

Develop Remote Working Procedures

If your company doesn’t already have remote working procedures for a crisis in place, now is as good a time as any to set them up. This should include setting up all software, installing preventative measures, and implementing step-by-step action plans for when things go wrong.

Set Up Safeguards on Lost and Stolen Tech

It’s vital that if someone’s work laptop or phone gets lost or stolen, that sensitive information cannot be accessed. The best way to do this is by setting up a remote wipe of the device.

Limit the Use of Free Tools

Every business requires marketing and business tools, but there may be some security risks with just using the free versions. So, where you can, go ahead and start paying for the upgraded versions. This especially applies to malware detecting and security tools, as the paid versions work much more effectively.

Communicate with External Resources

To add to security measures, it may also be wise to get in touch with all your contractors and suppliers to assess their security strategies. Although GDPR is required by law in most countries, it’s important to double-check to ensure everything is as secure as possible.

When you get in touch with these resources, it’s also a good idea to devise a strategy together if things go awry. After all, everything will be different now the staff are remote, so this way, you can cut your losses early on.

Educate All Employees

Having these safeguards in place means nothing if your employees aren’t educated on it. They need to be aware of how they can prevent any suspicious activity, including actions as simple as working on the VPN. This could also include updating everyone on the data handling procedures to ensure nothing goes amiss.

With social media these days, it’s never been easier to keep everyone informed. Hosting Zoom calls with your employees to do this is as simple.

Also, you could go the extra mile and send out information packs on everything to look out for when working from home. This should help to prevent any unwanted and unexpected activity.

Now You’re Ready for Anything…

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Here, we’ve delved into the potential reasons the current situation may cause a spike in data breach examples across the globe. We’ve also gone into detail about how you can protect your company from the eventuality of hackers.

Have you experienced a recent data breach due to the coronavirus and want to share your experience? Or, perhaps you’re still anxiously awaiting any security threats within your company?

Whatever it may be, do leave a comment down below with your stories and top tips. It’s time we all clued ourselves up on the ins and outs of data protection, so we can be ready to act.

Worried your business is vulnerable to a data breach during COVID-19? Read on for tips on what your company might be at risk to and how to protect yourself.

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