Business IQ

Data security: 5 questions to ask your team

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

With more people working remotely all across the country during the pandemic, we’ve been inadvertently thrust into the middle of an evolving experiment. This period of transition has caught many businesses off guard and made them susceptible to cyber criminals looking to take advantage of the confusion.

Woman typing on laptop

Here are five key questions you should be asking your staff to ensure they, and your business, maintain good data security practices. 

1. Is your operating system up to date? 

Big software companies are constantly monitoring their products for potential vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Ensuring that your employees’ operating systems are up to date is the easiest way to help ensure that you’re protected against known issues.

This is true for all devices, including computers as well as any phones and tablets your team may use for work.

2. Are you using a secure network? 

With people working from a range of devices in different locations, network security has never been more important. Ensure your staff are only connecting their devices to trusted Wi-Fi networks.

If they’re in public, encourage them to avoid free networks and instead tether to their mobile device. Open networks are unsecured, and cyber criminals have been known to establish their own networks in public spaces to lure in unsuspecting users.

3. Have you updated your passwords lately?

Key passwords should be updated regularly to minimise their risk of being compromised. Use this transition into remote work as a prompt to encourage your staff to update their sensitive passwords.

Remind employees that the strongest form of password is actually a passphrase consisting of a series of words, special characters and a mix of cases. Passphrases should be unique to each device and key services or software to mitigate the potential risk if one were to be exposed.

4. Do you know who you’re talking to (for sure)?

Scammers are taking advantage of the unique situation caused by COVID-19 to target businesses and individuals. There have been documented cases of people impersonating health authorities and postal services to manipulate specific targets. This style of social engineering attack can be hard to defend against, as they’re likely to go undetected by antivirus software.

It’s essential to educate your staff on the red flags for social engineering scams. These include unusual requests that are often coupled with a sense of urgency. Teach your employees to be sceptical of communications that feel out of the ordinary, even if they appear to come from someone they know. Encourage them to delay taking any requested actions until they’ve established the identities of those they’re talking to. 

5. Are you backing up remotely?

If your staff are scattered around multiple locations, it’s critical that they’re all saving data to a central location. Establishing a server that staff can access remotely is a key step to ensuring data integrity.

This way, if one of your employees was to lose their local data, you’ll still able to run your business effectively. A remote back-up also guards against accidents like theft or loss, keeping your business data safe.

To check how ready your business is for cyber threats, you can take our Cyber Security Quiz for free.

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