Working from home part 4: Cyber attacks
The final article in our Work From Home series is designed to help you cope in the event of a cyber emergency.
Cyber attacks costs businesses around the world an estimated $1 trillion last year. Sadly, that number will grow as more people choose to work from home permanently.
That’s a huge sum. More than enough to attract some seriously smart criminals.
Whether it’s phishing, smishing or vishing, hackers are using a wide range of technology to create increasingly sophisticated crimes. Their target? Your distributed workforce.
It’s enough to give any business owner sleepless nights.
In the office it’s easier to prevent, or at least detect, a cyber attack. But even a well-prepared workforce can still become a victim of cyber crime.
But do you know what to do if your business is hit?
Training your team to avoid cyber attacks
Every business should have a clear set of procedures in case of emergency – and cyber attacks fall into that category.
And, just like preventing fires and accidents, dealing with a cyber attacks starts with sufficient training.
As mentioned in the first article in this series, your team needs to be able to sniff out suspicious activity. Today’s cyber-attacks are subtle. Don’t expect the flashing skull and crossbones you see in movies: duplicate sites used to implant malware are designed to look completely legitimate.
To help your team, cultivate a “better safe than sorry” attitude that’s matched by a clear action plan. Everyone needs to know who to call in case of an emergency – and to be brave enough to do it. Also, remember that any device used for work purposes could be at risk, so try and use landlines.
You also have a legal obligation, under section 22 of POPIA, to alert the Information Regulator and any victim of a data breach as soon as possible.
Include as much information about the attack as possible, and communicate any possible consequences. You also need to explain how you intend to resolve the situation, and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
A CTO KNOWS: Your team won’t follow the emergency procedure if they’re afraid to be punished. Handle threats together as a team.
Cyber attack in progress? Shut it down!
Once your emergency lead understands the threat, they may need to shut down the device, or devices, that have been targeted.
Thankfully, most end-point security systems allow you to do this remotely. This can stop the spread of malicious software before it spreads throughout your networked devices.
End point solutions scan the affected machine remotely – especially if you are using a VDI or similar solution – so as soon as you can, your IT team needs to try and track down the threat.
If you don’t have any end-point security in place, you need to instruct all of your employees to shut down and disconnect from any linked network programmes immediately. A brief period of downtime is a lot better than letting an attack grow.
A CTO KNOWS: Cyber threats are like a disease that infects you network. You need to stop the spread by any means necessary.
Time for a hard reset
Criminals love to return to the scene of the crime, and it’s important that you’re not vulnerable if they do come back.
Cyber attacks can access huge amounts of sensitive data in seconds, so while your team tries to find any malware that’s lurking on the network, get everyone else to update all of their passwords.
As soon as the experts have given all the all clear, implement a hard reset of device and router passwords so that any information that may have been lifted is pointless.
A CTO KNOWS: Acting quickly can help prevent a follow-up attack.
The Last Word
Security doesn’t stop with passwords and end-point protection. To avoid a significant attack, everyone on your team needs to know exactly what to do should the worst happen.