As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force organizations to transition to the cloud (a transition that will likely continue beyond the pandemic), they face growing cyber security challenges. Organizations that fail to be proactive about confronting these challenges are at an increased risk of falling victim to hackers and data breaches.
According to Zack Schuler, CEO and Founder of the cyber security awareness company NINJIO, there are five steps organizations can take to avoid falling prey to cyber security threats in 2021:
- Switch from a “work-from-home” mentality to a “work-from-anywhere” mentality: As pandemic restrictions begin to lift, remote employees won’t always be working from home. Many will start to work in coffee shops, libraries, and co-working environments. With this in mind, organizations should focus on the value that VPNs, private mobile hotspots, and security software can bring. They should also educate their workforce about cyber security, such as the do’s and don’ts of sharing information over WiFi and keeping their devices updated.
- Consider every possible weak link: Today, there are many more devices available to hack than ever before—a situation that will only increase as the Internet of Things expands from 18.4 billion connected devices to 29.3 billion in the next two years, according to a new Cisco report. Employees working from home will have less protection than those in a physical workspace. A 2019 Deloitte survey found that the average home in the U.S. contained about eleven connected devices, and that 28% contained smart home devices, such as appliances that are connected to the internet, which tend to come with security features that are less sophisticated than what you would find in a smartphone or laptop. Through these weak links, hackers can easily penetrate an employee’s home network and access their work devices.
- Prioritize “responsible communication”: In this new era of remote work, workplaces are becoming more dependent on communication via the cloud and collaboration platforms to communicate, which pose a number of security issues. This means organizations will need to routinely update apps and software, embrace multifactor authentication, practice regular cybersecurity “hygiene” (such as creating passwords that are impossible to guess), and ensure that workers are being responsible with their daily cloud applications. All of this means employees must be thoroughly educated on how to use and communicate through these tools.
- Educate employees about all the ways they are likely to be hacked: Employee email account attacks like phishing are the number one method hackers use to penetrate organizations. To tamper down on these types of schemes, organizations should educate their employees on all the ways scammers will try to exploit them, such as emails that encourage them to download materials or follow links that could be malicious.
- Transform the way people at your organization think about cyber security: Employees who work outside IT departments don’t usually see cyber security as related to their work. These same employees may also fail to understand how these potential attacks can threaten their privacy at home. Now is a perfect opportunity for organizations to transform the way their workers think about cyber security through education and training.
Too often, organizations think of cyber security as an afterthought, taking action against it only after they’ve been breached. By following these five steps, organizations can proactively prevent these attacks, and create a ground-up approach to security in the process.
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Zack Schuler (11 January 2021). How To Level Up Your Cybersecurity In 2021. Forbes.