Why you shouldn’t neglect cybersecurity in a rush to support mass homeworking

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Beaming, the specialist business ISP, today advised UK businesses not to neglect cybersecurity when putting in place plans to enable widespread homeworking by their employees.

Beaming’s annual survey of business leaders, undertaken in January 2020, found that almost half (46%) of UK employers, the equivalent of around 653,000 organisations, would encounter delays while members of staff got operations up and running elsewhere.

It also discovered that a fifth (20%) of employers, approximately 276,000 firms nationwide, would fare even worse, telling Beaming’s researchers that they would not be able to trade if staff could not work from their main business premises or access systems located there.

Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming, comments: “We have seen many businesses take steps to accelerate their disaster recovery plans in recent weeks, and put in place technology to maintain productivity and support working from home. Cyber attack levels are already at record high levels, and it is likely that criminal elements will seek to take advantage of the crisis and new technologies being put in place. It is important to keep cybersecurity top of mind when putting these technologies in place”

“The coronavirus pandemic is one of the biggest surprises to the UK economy we’ve encountered in decades. Disaster recovery plans are now top of business agendas and large scale remote working is inevitable as organisations tell people to keep calm and carry on with their jobs from home.”

Disaster preparedness by size of organisation

Could your business continue to trade following a catastrophic event? Total Solo

(1 person)

Micro

(2-10)

Small

(11-50)

Medium

(51-250)

Large

(251+)

Yes. We have a disaster recovery plan and could switch immediately to access systems from other locations 18% 18% 17% 22% 28% 39%
Yes. We have a disaster recovery plan but it would take a while to get up and running elsewhere 12% 7% 25% 35% 44% 42%
Yes. But we don’t have a disaster recovery plan in place and I’m not sure how we’d do it 19% 19% 21% 16% 9% 8%
We wouldn’t be able to trade. We are wholly reliant on our main premises and the systems located there 28% 30% 21% 18% 7% 6%

Source: Beaming / Opinium 2020

Smaller businesses least prepared to enable widespread home working

Beaming’s survey revealed in January that the smallest organisations were the least prepared to support employees working from home. These businesses would have to implement new technologies quickly to enable this, and Beaming is concerned that cybersecurity implications could be neglected as leaders rush to enable homeworking.

Although 36% of people at micro-companies worked from home already, less than a fifth (17%) told Beaming’s researchers they could provide immediate access to critical systems from outside of the office. Fewer than 5% of micro firms already use a combination of cloud-based applications, remote office tools and VoIP telephone systems that allow office-based staff to work seamlessly from alternate locations.

Small businesses did not fare much better on preparedness, with 22% of those surveyed in January saying employees would be able to switch immediately to access systems from other locations. Just one in ten (10%) small business leaders said they used Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to enable secure access to company applications from remote locations.

Advice for businesses adopting mass homeworking

  • Ensure that home workers have sufficient bandwidth to do their jobs remotely and securely
  • Use Virtual Private Networks (VPN) or Remote Desktop Services to secure employees’ access to company applications from remote locations
  • Ensure that cybersecurity measures such as firewalls, antivirus software, and spam filters are in place and up to date on every device used to access company data
  • Maximise cybersecurity resilience with multi-factor authentication, granting access to users only after presenting several pieces of information – such as a secure password, approved device and a physical token
  • Use a cloud-based phone system and apps that can be installed on employee devices, so that they take and make calls using the main workplace telephone system, regardless of location

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