By now everyone is familiar with the great worker exodus from offices to homes that occurred in 2020. This effort enabled companies to keep operating even amid social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, work from home (WFH) arrangements were an improvement over having everyone work at the office, so much so that many companies are keeping them in place.
Yet, there were downsides to the sudden WFH policies. For some workers, it was hard to find an area at home in which to work. Some homes lacked adequate internet connections. Additionally, the distributed workforce added complexity to company networks and put them more at risk. According to a recent TechRepublic article, “The dramatic shift to hybrid-style work is actually likely to accelerate the need for good networking technology and standards.”
And that’s just one reason now is the right time for businesses to improve their network security. Here, BairesDev examines this reason and others for strengthening network security now.
Remote Work Arrangements
Remote work is here to stay, and companies must ensure their distributed networks are secure against rising cyber threats from outside and inside their borders. Greater use of cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) mean a higher number of attack vectors for bad actors to gain access to your and your customers’ data.
In addition to the use of cloud computing and SaaS, employers must deal with the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon. Employees want to use their own devices for work rather than having, for example, 2 mobile phones — one for work and one for personal use.
Sounds like a great idea, right?
It can be, but organizations must ensure strict policies for security on every device. To do so, companies should encrypt all employee devices, install security software, and make users aware of rules about Wi-Fi use and other data loss prevention best practices.
With many employees offsite, another security issue is inadequate backup and recovery processes. In the event of a cyberattack, these procedures are critical for restoring lost data. The best way to address this issue is to implement a robust cloud backup system that all workers can use, no matter where they’re working from.
The following video describes additional cybersecurity tips for team members working from home and small businesses:
Increasing Cyber Breaches
Cyber crime is on the rise, especially since the pandemic started. In a recent article, Forbes Agency Council member David Fouse states, “Not long after the outbreak first took hold…the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center began receiving 3,000 to 4,000 daily cybersecurity complaints — a more than threefold increase from the 1,000 daily complaints it was receiving prior to the pandemic.
Recent news stories about SolarWinds, Colonial Pipeline, and JBS confirm this troubling trend. They indicate that even companies that have software in widespread use and those that provide essential services like gas and food are at risk.
Orders From the Top
National governments are also at risk, including the U.S. The matter has become dire enough for President Bident to issue an Executive Order to help improve the U.S.’s cybersecurity and protect federal government networks. According to the White House, the Executive Order takes the following steps:
- Removes barriers to threat information sharing between government and the private sector
- Modernizes and implements stronger cybersecurity standards in the federal government
- Improves software supply chain security
- Establishes a cybersecurity safety review board
- Creates a standard playbook for responding to cyber incidents
- Improves detection of cybersecurity incidents on federal government networks
- Improves investigative and remediation capabilities
Customer Experience Is Key
If you’re not yet convinced of the need to address network security, think about the protection of one of your company’s greatest assets: your customers. Or, more specifically, their loyalty and trust, which are built by providing seamless interactions and stellar customer care. The totality of their feelings about these interactions adds up to their customer experience (CX), and it’s something more customers are basing buying decisions on.
Whether it’s your fault or not, a cyber breach, especially one that compromises customer data, lowers the quality of CX you’re able to provide. Yes, strengthening your network security can be expensive. But so can losing customers and the time and money it will take to restore your operations and reputation.
As if the cost, hassle, and reputational loss of a cybersecurity breach weren’t enough, companies must also be concerned about regulatory issues. Each industry has its own regulatory requirements, which can be compromised in the event of an attack. For example, medical offices must abide by HIPAA regulations, and financial professionals are bound by SEC and FINRA rules.
Whether it’s your fault or not, these agencies can impose fines and other punishments if you fail to comply with their regulations. That’s another reason why businesses must implement cybersecurity best practices and strengthen networks now.
Networks that are secure also tend to perform well, enabling team members to be more productive. The reason is that a patchwork of security protocols will both be less effective at preventing cyberattacks and bog down the network.
Companies that are serious about cybersecurity and productivity should enlist an experienced professional, whether in-house or contracted, to consolidate security solutions. Businesses can also use behavioral processes, such as a Zero Trust policy, to reduce the number of security solutions needed.
A Secure New World
Many companies that sent workers home during the pandemic found out how effective a remote work arrangement could be in terms of productivity, employee job satisfaction, and lowered overhead costs. The benefits have been enough for some employers to continue this practice beyond the pandemic. However, now that pandemic starts to pass, these same companies must ensure they didn’t overlook network security during that time.
Now is the time to strengthen network security for other reasons as well. Cyber breaches are on the rise, CX is more important than ever, and regulatory requirements demand that customer data be kept safe and secure. Companies ready to move into their next normal must make network security a top priority.