Starting 2021 planning? Start with Cybersecurity for Peace of Mind

We’ve all been there, especially recently. We open our laptops, get ready to work, and see a blaring message and subject line – “URGENT INFORMATION LETTER: COVID-19 NEW APPROVED VACCINES.” You guessed it – it’s a COVID-19 phishing scam. Since January, cybercriminals have been working overtime looking to leverage uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic. These scammers are staging all sorts of vaccine-related attack campaigns – ransomware, phishing, to private network hacking. The cybersecurity company Check Point looked carefully at one particular email, and they found it included an attached EXE file promising additional details on a vaccine. Unfortunately, when unsuspecting users click on the file, it installs software that attempts to obtain usernames, passwords, and other personal information surreptitiously. 

This example above is just one of the thousands of cyber scams discovered since the start of the pandemic. In mid-April, Google’s Threat Analysis Group reported that it blocked 18 million COVID-19-related malware and phishing emails per day! And, while phishing emails seem to be slowing since January, there is evidence that corporate IT departments need to get more proactive about security protections for people, data, and systems. 

A new way forward – WFH also opens up new gaps in security

Another factor contributing to the increased urgency around cybersecurity is the huge up-tick in remote working. Enterprises such as Google, Nationwide, and Barclays, are talking about a permanent shift to WFH policies and reduced office space. SMBs, too, are making a shift to WFH for the foreseeable future. Security firm Untangle reports that at the pandemic’s height, 78% of SMBs transitioned up to 100% of their employees to a remote workforce. And now, as we’re getting back to some sense of normalcy, surveys suggest 56% of SMB employees will remain working remotely.

Start thinking about 2021 planning today

Even if you are ready to make adjustments to your security practices and technologies – it’s no easy feat. Where should you start? Is there a blueprint SMBs can follow? What should business leaders be thinking about for Q1 2021 planning? Let’s review some critical best practices. 

  1. Prioritize Securing Remote Work Environments – When it comes to keeping corporate and WFH environments secure, corporate leaders need to have smart security controls in place. Taking steps, including setting up firewalls, endpoint detection and response solutions (EDR), and antivirus software are critical. Make sure antivirus software is up-to-date. There are also patch management applications that ensure all software and system updates are resilient and up-to-date.
  1. Ensure Stable Application Performance – Chances are your organization relies on SaaS solutions and cloud apps every day – they’re the engine that makes work and remote work possible. Whether it’s your CRM system, ERP, UCaaS system, or other software, performance is more critical than ever. Application performance monitoring (APM) tools can help companies track the root causes of any issues and keep apps up and running. They also provide automated testing solutions to zero-in on remote issues as they arise. And, if the worst-case scenario does happen and apps go down, these tools can help get applications back up and as quickly as possible.
  1. Zero in on Cloud Security – The truth is any organization with remote employees should be leveraging a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts traffic between the user and a corporate network, which means that if companies are accessing cloud services from the corporate network, data and systems are protected. However, a VPN does not stop cybercriminals from breaching the internal network. Preventing network attacks requires protection from a next-generation firewall. Firewalls should include fast SSL inspection across all ports and protocols to ensure there’s no service degradation for mobile or remote employees. 
  1. Consider Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions – Companies need EDR tools to detect anomalous activity across all endpoints – servers, workstations, laptops, and mobile devices. EDR solutions go beyond antivirus software to combat advanced threats by gathering, monitoring and analyzing security incidents to detect threats and pinpoint its root cause. Instead of managing EDR systems in-house, many companies opt for managed security packages. Managed security teams can run EDR tools for complete protection across the business – from employee onboarding and device configuration, to maintenance, monitoring, and incident response for both on-premise and remote workloads. 

Make a Plan but Stay Resilient 

At Carrier Solutions Group, we can help you cut through cybersecurity clutter to get the right security processes and tools in place quickly. That way, you can identify and stop cybersecurity threats, keeping your company agile and ready for what’s next.  

It’s fair to say that in early March, many companies were emphasizing a ‘connectivity first’ approach to meet the immediate WFH rush. Now, six months later, organizations need to get serious about identifying any existing security and control gaps to prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage of these uncertain times. If you want help mapping out your go-forward strategy to keep your data, systems, applications, and employees secure, please get in touch. 

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