A Cyber Secure Home Office for the New Normal

Working from home has become the new ‘normal’ for businesses of all sizes and across all sectors in recent months.

Pre-pandemic, the thought of entire teams switching to remote working literally overnight seemed somewhat impossible and littered with potential complications and challenges.

But it’s happened and it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. Working from home has become the new way of life for the vast majority of employees; 1.7 million of them, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

Despite the government’s initiatives to get UK office workers back to their company workstations, the reality is that uptake still remains slow. The reality is that many can still retain their productivity levels even whilst working from the kitchen counter. At this point, it is imperative for businesses to recognise that the time has come for them to reinforce their cybersecurity and home working measures, if they haven’t already done so.

We’ve been living, breathing and facilitating the switch to remote working since the start of the UK lockdown

During this time, METCloud has seen demand for working from home soar, with the METCloud team providing secure home working capability to thousands of users since lockdown.

Given the immediacy of the need to work from home, the original priority for most businesses was to simply get their employees set up to work remotely. The priorities have since evolved as we continue on nearly six months into the new way of life that has been dictated by this pandemic.

Not only do today’s businesses need to have robust cybersecurity systems, it is imperative that teams are well educated and invested in to uphold the best practices that preserve the overall prosperity of the business. Furthermore, with the network demands of tele-conferencing and online collaborations, it is important to ensure the business circuits are up to scratch!

We’ve listed our top six dos and don’ts for employers to work with their teams to ensure general cyber safety and company wellbeing below:

DO – Implement measures that will benefit your staff

Working from home securely also extends to making some practical decisions in relation to employees’ home set ups. Do they have everything they need to work securely and safely? It is not unreasonable to consider ergonomic furnishings that pass desk health safety assessments at home. By demonstrating your consideration for the employee’s wellbeing, they remain invested and motivated.

Does your team have stable and secure internet access and mobile device management? Do the same people constantly struggle with connectivity during teleconference meetings? If so, it is important to see how the business can support their needs.

Is there a clear cut way for team members to report any issues? If there is, is it properly and regularly communicated to the team? Ideally, businesses should find strategies to help make reporting issues easier in order to nip any potential problems at the bud.

DON’T – Overlook your GDPR obligations

Just because we’re all working at home, doesn’t mean we’re not still responsible for being General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant. If anything, the GDPR guidance serves as a good checklist for staying safe. For instance, one of the requirements is to make sure data is being protected by encryption or pseudonymisation to protect it from being leaked. It’s a measure that’s applicable to enabling safe remote working to take place too.

DO – Set strong passwords

As obvious as it sounds, strong passwords are something we can all implement with relatively minimum effort. In addition to creating passwords, from a combination of letters, numbers, characters, uppercase and lowercase, make sure they’ve been scheduled to be regularly updated. And, in line with National Cyber Security Centre best practice, always implement two-factor authentication.

DON’T – Forget to regularly educate staff about cyber threats

At the height of the pandemic, it was reported that there was a 6000% increase Covid-19 related cyber scams. Other cybercrime related figures are comparatively staggering. With teams working from home, it is more important than ever to regularly bring awareness and remind the teams that they have to be hyper vigilant against cybercrimes. If it is not already part of the agenda for regular team meetings, it is important to include it.

A breach in cybersecurity does not just inconvenience the one person affected, it can potentially stall a team or cripple a business.

DO – Carry out computer health checks

This goes hand-in-hand with the above point, has everybody installed the latest software updates to protect their laptops, PCs and other devices from security breaches? Do they know how often they should be doing this? Have they downloaded the latest anti-virus systems or do you need something that’s more robust? Clearly advising employees not to ignore patch updates is imperative.

DON’T – Ignore other devices

Do your employees have company phones or tablets? These devices are commonly overlooked for patch updates and application downloads. It is important to invest in proper mobile device management that is for purpose in accordance to your business needs. Strong education and guidelines on do’s and don’ts with company equipment will stave off any potential threats.

Remote working has brought about significant change and opportunity for businesses worldwide. This involves opportunities to work more innovatively and more flexibly, as well as more opportunities for cybercrime to compromise these new ways of working.

For help and advice on making sure your remote processes and systems are cyber-safe, contact us on 0121 227 0730 or sales@metcloud.com. In the meantime, for more insight on what successful cyber secure remote working looks like, read this article, ‘Coronavirus UK: How transitioning to secure cloud computing can support successful remote-working.