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VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Cybersecurity Tips on Working from Ho-Ho-Home This Holiday Season

The remote work or work-from-home business model is here to stay. Just consider these statistics:

  • Companies that embrace remote work have 25% less turnover than those that don’t;
  • In the past decade remote working has increased by 115%;
  • 86% of employees feel that remote working reduces stress;
  • People who work remotely half of the time save 11 days’ worth of commuting time every year; and
  • Telecommuting reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to 600,000 vehicles.

These are some pretty compelling reasons to embrace remote working. While working from home is convenient and has many benefits, it also exposes individuals and businesses to a number of cybersecurity risks. Whether employees are connecting to networks from the office, from home, or from their local coffee shop, businesses need to plan for the risks of cyberattacks (such as data loss and leakage) and work to mitigate them. Networks with a centrally managed corporate network and remote workers present unique security challenges.

With the holiday season right around the corner, there are heightened cyber risks that come along with the season. Between the increased online shopping and potential travel plans, cybercriminals see the holiday season as a major prospective payday. Here we review some general strategies for addressing holiday cybersecurity this season.

Remote Work Cybersecurity Strategies

To keep information safe, business owners need to educate their employees on how to manage network security, work securely, and prevent the migration of home vulnerabilities to the office. It is also important that employees and employers receive a basic level of cybersecurity training so that they understand the implications of their actions. Cybersecurity executives and professionals aren’t the only ones who need to know how to deal with cyber attacks.

This new way of working expands the potential of cybersecurity threats with new vulnerabilities surrounding every employee whether working from home or at a local coffee shop. Here are five strategies to mitigate any security risks associated with remote working vulnerabilities:

  • Experts recommend that telecommuters use a secure VPN to provide end-to-end encryption. For organizations that allow access to email and cloud services from an employee’s personal device, it is recommended to apply the same endpoint security rules for antivirus software and custom firewalls as for employer-managed devices.
  • Empower employees to address the security of their home networks. Personal computers are an easy way for attackers to gain access to networks. Ensure employees have passwords to home routers and the proper firewalls in place to decrease the chances of an attack.
  • Implement policies that require employees to change their various device and application passwords frequently, ideally at least every three months. Passwords should be complex with specific character requirements, and not of the ‘123456’ variety.
  • Be selective about what software and applications are allowable, and ensure that employees know not to install unapproved applications.
  • In the event that a cyberattack does happen on a staff members’ home system, ensure that employees know to report it immediately 

E-Commerce Cybersecurity Strategies

Online shopping and the holidays go hand in hand. Heck, there is even a day specifically for e-commerce transactions (Cyber Monday, which falls on the Monday following Thanksgiving). It is safe for organizations to assume that their employees will be indulging in some online shopping during the holiday season, and they should plan accordingly by instructing their staff to ensure that all internet-connected devices ‒ including PCs, smartphones, and tablets ‒ are free from malware and infections by running only the most current versions of software, web browsers, and other apps. Employees should be mindful of the e-commerce sites they are visiting by shopping only on sites that use SSL protection. The easiest way to tell whether a site uses SSL protection is to check the browser’s address bar for HTTPS in the URL. Sites without the ‘s’ in HTTP are not safe to submit payment information or other personal details and should be avoided at all costs.

Employees should also be encouraged to regularly monitor their accounts, check their online financial accounts regularly for suspicious spending, and to take advantage of text and email alerting services that many banks and credit card companies now offer.

Identity Theft Cybersecurity Strategies

Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an attacker obtains key personally identifiable information, such as social security numbers or driver’s license, in order to impersonate another person. Identity theft has taken on a new lease of life in the digital age, and our data has become a valuable asset that can be monetized and used to engage in fraudulent activities.

The best way for employees to protect themselves from identity theft is to be diligent about not sharing personal information and shredding sensitive documentation as needed. Creating, and regularly updating, long and unique passwords for all accounts and using multi-factor authentication wherever possible are also strong tactics for mitigating the risk of identity theft. 

Phishing Cybersecurity Strategies

With the expansion of telecommuting, vulnerabilities have increased as more devices are being introduced into corporate data ecosystems and new phishing schemes have been introduced. The FBI reports that phishing was the most common type of cybercrime in 2020 with the number of incidents reported doubling between 2019 and 2020. ‘Think before you click’ is a mantra that should be adopted and regularly repeated by all organizations.

Cybercriminals have really stepped up their phishing game in recent years. The FBI recently shared this list of the top ten most common phishing email subject lines from last year:

  1. IT: Annual Asset Inventory
  2. Changes to your health benefits
  3. Twitter: Security alert: new or unusual Twitter login
  4. Amazon: Action Required | Your Amazon Prime Membership has been declined
  5. Zoom: Scheduled Meeting Error
  6. Google Pay: Payment sent
  7. Stimulus Cancellation Request Approved
  8. Microsoft 365: Action needed: update the address for your Xbox Game Pass for Console subscription
  9. RingCentral is coming!
  10. Workday: Reminder: Important Security Upgrade Required

It’s easy to see how employees could be taken in, which is why it is critical to provide regular security training for your employees so that they understand and be able to spot phishing scams, malware, and social engineering threats. In addition to conducting phishing awareness courses, organizations can conduct mock phishing drills to keep employees alert and only click on links they trust. Ensuring your employees are educated in the ways to identify phishing attempts will go far towards keeping your networks and data safe and secure.

Ensure Your Stress-Free Holiday Season

While it is a magical time of year, the holiday season can also come along with it’s share of stresses. Between the jam-packed social calendar, family commitments, working hard to pick out the perfect gifts, and the general busyness of the season, there are plenty of things to add stress without piling on cybersecurity-induced stress.

Wondering if your company is safe and primed to survive the holiday season cyber safe? Versa Trust has been serving Texas businesses for over 25 years and can give your organization the peace of mind it so richly deserves this holiday season. Their suite of security services will protect your data, save you money, and keep your organization cyber safe. Connect with them today for a no-obligation risk assessment.

Improve Your Cybersecurity Year-Round

This week is the final week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but that doesn’t mean that you or your organization should be relaxing your efforts to be more cybersecure. In fact, every aspect of our connectivity, from our devices to the cloud, can affect the future of our personal, consumer, and business cybersecurity.

This week is the final week of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but that doesn’t mean that you or your organization should be relaxing your efforts to be more cybersecure. In fact, every aspect of our connectivity, from our devices to the cloud, can affect the future of our personal, consumer, and business cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is increasingly becoming more of a consideration in how we work, learn, and play. It is rapidly expanding beyond the realm of just cellphones and computers and will soon encompass network-connected IoT devices, like smart thermostats, driverless trucks, and even children’s toys. The IoT market is set to reach a value of more than $1 trillion in the next few years, expanding both our connections and capabilities, as well as the potential for new and ongoing breaches in cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity can be overwhelming, especially when you’re dealing with a crisis, like a breach or a hack in your workplace. However, when we treat cybersecurity as a year-round effort, it becomes much easier to manage.

Today, we’ll guide you through some of our most useful and actionable tips to help keep cybersecurity a priority throughout your company, reducing your risk of being targeted by cybercriminals.

Actionable tips for year-round cybersecurity

Being cybersecure doesn’t just begin and end with your IT department. As a business owner and company leader, you have a responsibility to do your part and incorporate greater awareness of cybersecurity into every decision you make.

Making these changes doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition, although many companies are making sizeable investments in this area this year. Annual global cybersecurity spend is growing at a rate of 12–15%, with more than $1 trillion expected to be spent between 2020 and 2025 alone. Making risk-reducing changes can be as simple as limiting file access since, currently, reports show that two-thirds of companies offer all employees access to at least 1,000 sensitive files. This can be remedied quickly and will immediately reduce your risk and limit damages in the event of a breach.

Here are a few more of our most useful tips to help you be more cyber aware.

Remember smart devices connected to the cloud need smart security

Making investments in IoT and smart devices can make our workplace smarter, offering actionable insights that we can use to help increase productivity. However, the use of these devices should not be undertaken lightly.

Instead of unthinkingly letting these devices access your network, take the opportunity to work with your IT department to create new security policies that govern your company’s use of these objects.

Ensuring that these devices are configured correctly will help ensure better security, but that’s just the beginning. Regularly updating devices with the latest patches and network settings will help ensure they remain protected from hackers, who can use them as the first point of contact to access sensitive files and data.

Put cybersecurity first in every decision

As a leader, there’s very little that goes on within your business that you aren’t involved in. Even if it isn’t your forte, you still need to be an advocate for cybersecurity and ensure that it’s considered a critical part of every decision.

Whether you’re leading the development of better cybersecurity policies or simply creating relationships with reliable agencies and partners to ensure you always receive timely access to cyberthreat information, you have enormous power to implement positive change. Make sure that you’re using it to put cybersecurity first in every aspect of your job.

Advocate for strong passwords and passphrases

If companies do not develop strong and resilient password policies, employees will be left to determine the best practices of password creation on their own. Instead of prioritizing company security, most employees will simply do what’s easiest for them, leaving company data and systems vulnerable.

Strong password policies can empower your employees, making it easier for them to get involved in the cybersecurity of your organization. Training them on password best practices and providing them tools like an electronic password manager are great first steps.

Never use public computers to log into your accounts

When you’re trying to stay on top of company business, it’s tempting to bypass security in favor of getting work done. This drive has led many business leaders to use public computers to log into their secure work accounts. These public devices are not safe for secure company work, even if it’s something as simple as checking your email.

Always err on the side of caution and avoid using these public machines. If you have used a public computer to conduct work business in the past, change the passwords on those accounts now.

Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when idle

When your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity is engaged, your location is being tracked. To help limit your exposure, especially when you’re in the workplace, you should always disconnect your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities when they are not in use.

More resources:

Looking for more resources on how to help your company be more cyber aware? Check out this list of resources from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the organizers of Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

How cloud computing can improve your organizational cybersecurity

If your sensitive data and applications are all hosted on a local server, this can be a huge potential risk for your cybersecurity. Making a move to the cloud can help offer better protection for these assets, while also simplifying the process of regular backups and disaster recovery efforts. Many organizations have used the upheaval of the last year to implement new cloud architecture, with forecasts projecting a global spend of almost $75 billion in 2021 alone.

Have you considered implementing more cloud computing to help with your organization’s cybersecurity? What’s holding you back?

This is a complex, yet necessary, process that can help lower your company’s risk for a breach. If you aren’t sure how to proceed, a trusted cloud expert can help you determine the best way forward.

Enlist a Dallas-Fort Worth cloud services expert for continued cybersecurity support

VersaTrust has been working with businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for over 25 years. In that time, we’ve been trusted to implement quality IT solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses, to help improve their ROI and ensure their ongoing cybersecurity.

Want to start a conversation about improving your organization’s cybersecurity through a move to the cloud? Reach out to VersaTrust to start the conversation today.

Love it or hate it, mobile technology in the workplace is here to stay. While more and more companies are utilizing it as a way to up their productivity, there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. Here are four tips to help you successfully integrate mobile devices into your organization to create a more efficient and productive business.

Use the right tool

Some work tasks just aren’t cut out for mobile use. While using a mobile phone or tablet to send emails is an effective way to work on the go, trying to write long form reports on these same devices is a bad idea. As a general guideline, small tasks such as email, viewing documents, using search engines and project management apps are good for mobile work. Anything that is too detailed is probably better suited for a computer or laptop. Lastly, only train your employees to use and learn the mobile devices and programs that make sense for their role. If you want them to be most efficient, you don’t want to overwhelm them with every mobile tool your business uses.

Communicate face-to-face

Email is undoubtedly a valuable communication tool. But it’s also become the bane of existence for many of today’s employees and business owners. Too many emails kills your employees productivity, overwhelming them. And unfortunately, many times email is simply unnecessary. Instead of sending that email about a question concerning an upcoming meeting, simply go and ask in-person. You’ll likely get a response much quicker and you avoid adding yet another message to the email overflow.

 

Consider adding a face-first policy in your office. This means that every time your employees consider writing an email, they should question if it’s easier to just go talk with that person directly. If that person is located a quick walk away, then the conversation should take place in-person. This especially makes sense if your employee needs an answer within a few hours, as sometimes emails go unanswered for much longer than this. By enforcing an email policy, your employees’ inboxes are less likely to be overflowing and your communication will take place in a more timely manner.

Set boundaries

There’s no question that mobile tech can help productivity, but it can also hinder it. The problem is that many employees who utilize it have difficulty “switching off”. The lines between work and personal life begin to blur as completing work tasks is always right at their fingertips. While on the surface more work output from your employees may sound like a good thing, in reality it’s far from it. Being “always on” can quickly lead to burnout. And even if it doesn’t, if your employees don’t take time to break and recharge, their productivity will suffer. To demonstrate just how many employees fall into this trap of overworking, the 2015 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index surveyed 2,602 employees and found that a quarter of them regularly worked after standard business hours, and four out of ten worked on at least one weekend a month.

 

So how can you resolve this issue as an employer? Simply set boundaries. Create time frames for when work platforms and applications can be utilized and for when emails can be sent and responded to. Also, don’t encourage employees to work on off-hours by sending emails during the weekend. If your concern isn’t urgent, then by all means wait till Monday to send it out.

Be flexible

While it may sound a bit contradictory to the last point, being flexible in your work policy can be a smart decision to boost productivity. By being flexible, we mean the ability for your employees to work at hours and locations of their choosing. Most people work better and quicker at certain hours as they are more focused at specific times of the day. And some people will work better remotely than they do at an office space as there can be less distractions. The Staples survey supported this fact as 59% of the employees surveyed said that flexible schedules had a positive effect on productivity.

 

Cloud tools like Office 365 and Google Apps can help encourage a flexible workplace. But regardless of how flexible your office becomes, be conscious that parameters on work, mentioned in the last section, should still be in place to prevent employee burnout.

Mobile devices in the workplace can go a long way towards making your business more efficient and employees happy. If you’d like to learn more about utilizing mobile devices in the workplace or how you can leverage technology to make your business more productive, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.