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Transitioning to Secure Remote Working During and Beyond COVID-19

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By Steve Law, CTO, Giacom and Sébastien Gest, VadeSecure

Organisations of all sizes that typically work in office environments have been thrown into the deep end due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Social distancing measures and restricting unnecessary travel has meant that a majority of companies had to unexpectedly revert to remote working. Many of these businesses quickly realised that they weren’t ready for this digital transformation, with recent research suggesting that UK firms are among the world’s least prepared for home-working.

With 25% of businesses having no crisis plan in place and 55% of employees having little to no experience of working from home, organisations have had to revise their working practices to be able to conduct their work digitally and remain effective. Technology plays a key role in enabling remote work, but many organisations did not have this planned in advance, and subsequently, are at a disadvantage due to their current inadequate technology solutions and infrastructure in place. This can lead to significantly increased security risks and concerns, as Steve Law, CTO, Giacom and Sébastien Gest, VadeSecure, explain.

Workplace Challenges

Workforces may not have access to the necessary devices from their homes such as work laptops, the correct video conference solutions or collaboration tools in place to perform their role. As a result, employees who are working from home will have to do so from their own devices. This ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) phenomenon creates a security concern as not all personal electronic devices will have the correct level of security installed on them – the software may not be up to date, they may have an older version of Windows installed or no antivirus software available.

This creates an issue for both the consumer and the professional, as the same credentials are often used across multiple accounts at the same time. Hackers’ creativity is limitless and is becoming more sophisticated over time. Vade Secure has seen a shift in cyber criminals’ strategies, changing from attacking individuals with ransomware to instead using these individuals as a backdoor to gain access to corporate networks, and there is no better opportunity to do this than via individuals using their personal devices from home. However, by implementing the correct software and security solutions across all employees’ devices, these risks can be mitigated. 

Evolving threats 

The number of cyberattacks has continued to increase over time, with up to 88% of UK companies being targets of breaches in the last 12 months. However, hackers are taking advantage of the current coronavirus situation by sending phishing emails purporting to be PPE suppliers or medication. Recent statistics have found that since January 2020, there have been over 4,000 coronavirus-related domains registered globally, with 3% found to be malicious and 5% suspicious. These results heighten the importance of ensuring your workforce are securely remote working.

Over the last three months, as the coronavirus outbreak has unfolded, Vade Secure has seen a surge in spear-phishing and malware activities. Examples of this which have been found include capitalising on psychological aspects of the victims, including Covid-19 charity campaigns, fake mask and sanitiser suppliers, as well as stock and medications for purchases which don’t exist.

With 91% of cyber attacks using emails as their first vector, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your employees have a secure email network in place. No organisation is immune to the threat and companies which don’t have the right security software in place need to act now before it’s too late. By adding these security elements, companies can benefit from detecting and blocking features and using Artificial Intelligence to secure their networks and become notified when a non-legitimate email appears.

Securing the weakest link  

Often, the weakest link of an organisation is the employee, as 88% of UK data breaches are caused by human error. Employees are not security experts and can fall foul to phishing scams if they don’t have the right level of education or awareness. When working from home, your workforce is under more pressure to work both faster and harder, which can lead to mistakes being made. Staff members don’t have the time to check every email before they open them, but this one click can make all the difference.

Instead, by educating employees and making them more vigilant, they will be able to spot scams and cyber attacks before the damage is done. Combined with the right security software that uses techniques such as alert ‘pop-ups’ to prompt users to check emails before clicking on links, for example, the workforce will become more aware of the signs to look out for. By enabling users to make an informed decision about the nature and legitimacy of their email before acting on it, organisations can now mitigate against this high-risk area.

Conclusion

In order for organisations to limit the number of insider data and security breaches,  particularly when working remotely, it’s crucial for employees to understand the role they play in keeping the company’s information secure. By preparing in advance and having a secure contingency plan in place which provides employees with the necessary devices and security, companies will be in a stronger position to defend their systems against hackers. In addition to this, supporting employees with training will allow workforces to understand the evolving risks they face, and how to keep their information and systems secure. 

WEBINAR REWIND: How to Tackle Working From Home Security Threats

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Last week ZIVVER hosted a webinar during which participants learned the secrets to securing an organization’s communications while safeguarding against costly data leaks with a remote workforce – if you missed this essential session you can re-watch it again now.

The lively 30 minute discussion includes expert insight and opinion from:

  • Quentyn Taylor is Head of Security for one of the largest enterprises in London. He is regarded as a key security commentator and is regularly quoted and published in industry publications and mainstream media.
  • Becky Pinkard is a renowned practitioner and commentator on the information security sector who has been working in information technology and security since 1996.
  • Rick Goud is the co-founder and CEO of Zivver, one of the top secure communication platform companies in Europe.

Tops covered off include:

  • Behind the stats: the top causes of data breaches in the UK
  • Data leak blunders and how to prevent them 
  • Evolving security threats with a remote workforce 
  • Modern solutions to secure outbound communications 

Watch again by clicking here

Securing outbound email is vital to help safeguard sensitive information and prevent data leaks. The good news is that this can be done easily and affordably with ZIVVER’s secure communication platform.

Getting started is easy

Setting up a ZIVVER account for up to 50 users can be conveniently done from any device in just a few clicks, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Simply choose the desired plan, select the number of users, and pay with a credit card to immediately begin sending communications securely.

Use the code WFH30UK to get 30% off for the first 3 months of your subscription – Click here to get started.

WEBINAR: How to Tackle Working From Home Security Threats

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Learn the secrets to securing your organization’s communications while safeguarding against costly data leaks with a remote workforce. 

This April 30 webinar from ZIVVER features three industry experts who will bring you up to speed on the new threat landscape. 

Stay alert to WFH security threats 

Be in the know and hear about the following:

  • Behind the stats: the top causes of data breaches in the UK
  • Data leak blunders and how to prevent them 
  • Evolving security threats with a remote workforce 
  • Modern solutions to secure outbound communications 

Learn from these IT security experts

We’re delighted to have two incredible guest panelists alongside ZIVVER’s co-founder and CEO, Rick Goud. They’re ready to share valuable insights on how to effectively secure outbound communications.

  • Quentyn Taylor is Head of Security for one of the largest enterprises in London. He is regarded as a key security commentator and is regularly quoted and published in industry publications and mainstream media.
  • Becky Pinkard is a renowned practitioner and commentator on the information security sector who has been working in information technology and security since 1996.
  • Rick Goud is the co-founder and CEO of one of the top secure communication platform companies in Europe.

Following the panel discussion there will be an interactive Q&A session where you can ask questions.

Click here to register for the webinar

Coronavirus: Business Continuity During a Global Crisis

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By Nicole Alvino, Cofounder and Chief Strategy Officer, SocialChorus

We’re living through an unprecedented time, globally and for how long, none of us are that sure. While the new coronavirus may seem like a singular threat, dealing with crises is a fact of doing business—one companies can expect to encounter with increasing frequency. According to PWC, 69% of businesses had experienced a crisis in the last five years even before COVID-19, and the most disruptive causes of crises in the U.S. were natural or environmental. 

Under these conditions, it’s likely that your company already has crisis management and business continuity plans in place. But what should you do to ensure your infrastructure is robust enough and capable of helping you to reach all your workers?

There are five critical challenges that CIOs will face as they try to utilise their stack to reach employees. If you’re a CIO, then you know that you’re the best equipped person in your executive team to plan for business continuity but to be successful you’re going to need every person, across the entire business to understand your plans. Ultimately, your company is looking to you to:

·       Establish a source of truth for your company and communicate with one voice, so employees can separate rumours from facts and trust what they’re being told

·       Reach every worker on every digital channel with the targeted, personalised information they need to respond in an emergency

·       Use intelligent automation to certify message delivery, prompt response, and make sure your crisis communications are not just read but understood

·       Track the success of crisis initiatives and measure the effectiveness of your communications using in-depth analytics

·       Be prepared for emergency situations during COVID-19 and beyond – your stack and your workforce need to prepared for every twist and turn during this pandemic.

As you and the senior leadership team implement your crisis communications strategy you (and they) will ask whether you can reach every employee on every digital channel, even those that are deskless. And can you reach them with personalised, up-to-the minute information that they need? You’ll need to ensure that whatever communications technology you use, whether it be SharePoint, Slack, Zoom, Teams, mobile apps or others, that you can consistently reach and broadcast your company’s messages to all.

One thing we’re hearing is that people are overwhelmed with communications. On average a worker receives 120 emails per day, that’s not counting the ones via other channels such as Slack, IM or Teams. Now consider that your people, like you, are also getting bombarded by emails from school, IM from friends and family and messages via Facebook and WhatsApp. There is an information overload going on so whatever you do, you need to make sure your messages reach people urgently and that they can review them promptly. Our latest paper on CIO Crisis Communications takes you through several steps on how to reach all employees, across all channels, consistently.

Consistency from your business will help to establish trust in your message, especially if you’re able to deliver it immediately to all. And that’s of paramount importance. You don’t want workers in the London office getting communications three hours later than those in Paris or Madrid, or the other side of the world for that matter. All employees are equal, and all deserve to be communicated with, no matter where they are. They may consume your communications in different ways so use your different channels to reach all.

You’ll also need to judge how many times you communicate. Don’t hassle people as we’ve said, they’re inundated with messages already. If you need to know that they’ve received a critical message or piece of advice, then track acknowledgements or read receipts. Then you can take further communications actions with those that are unresponsive and not send repeat messages company wide.COVID-19 is changing the way we live and the way we work. In a world where change seems to be the only constant be the consistent voice across your organisation. Your emergency plans may need to be tweaked over the coming weeks, your infrastructure might need to be extended to ensure your reach is truly companywide but remember it is the companies that manage this situation well that will thrive through the chaos.

Image by Thor Deichmann from Pixabay