The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards remote work globally. As businesses, organizations, and individuals rapidly adapt to this new way of working, it has become increasingly important to recognize the evolving threat landscape. Cybercriminals are persistently developing new methods to profit from vulnerabilities of remote systems, leading to an increase in cyber-attacks around the world.
According to the report Cybercrime in a Pandemic World: The Impact of COVID-19, by McAfee Enterprise and FireEye, 81% of global organizations experienced increased cyber threats during COVID-19, and 79% of organizations experienced downtime due to cybersecurity risk during peak season.
This alarming trend underscores the critical need for robust data security measures.
However, finding the perfect harmony between securing your organization’s data and maintaining productivity can be daunting.
Ensuring robust cybersecurity is imperative for safeguarding your business. However, the main question is how this will impact your employees’ productivity and what you should do about it.
Picture this— Alex, a software developer, is working on an urgent project that requires collaboration with team members across different departments. He’s responsible for integrating multiple data sets stored in various secure servers within the company.
As Alex attempts to access these data sets, he discovers that the company’s overly restrictive security measures require approval from multiple managers before he can access the necessary information.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of the project, Alex decides to circumvent the security protocols and transfers the data to his personal computer using an unsecured file-sharing platform.
Now, Alex inadvertently exposes the company’s sensitive data to potential cyber threats, placing the organization at risk of a data breach.
1. Adopt high-level cybersecurity practices
Invest in state-of-the-art data security practices to equip your organization with the necessary tools to safeguard sensitive information.
Some of these practices include:
- The implementation of strong password policies and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to prevent unauthorized access.
- Encryption of the organization’s data in transit and at rest.
- Installation of antivirus software and firewalls on all devices.
- Updating and patching software and systems to address known vulnerabilities.
- Backing up your organization’s data frequently and storing it in a secure location.
- Having a well-defined incident response plan in place to quickly detect, contain, and remediate any security breaches.
These practices will help you prevent or mitigate the impact of common cyber threats such as phishing, malware, ransomware, Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, and more.
If your cybersecurity structure is too complicated or cumbersome, it frustrates your employees and reduces their productivity. Therefore, make the practices easy and convenient for your employees to follow.
For example, if you require your employees to use different passwords for different accounts and devices, they may have trouble remembering them — or resort to using weak or reused passwords.
Similarly, if you require your employees to use a VPN or a secure browser to access certain websites or applications, they may experience slow or unreliable connections. This will affect their work quality and speed.
To avoid that, you should use tools such as password managers, Single Sign-On (SSO), cloud-based services, and Mobile Device Management (MDM) to simplify your cybersecurity structure.
The below tools will help you streamline your cybersecurity processes and make them more user-friendly for your employees:
- Password managers will help your employees generate and store strong passwords for all their accounts and devices without memorizing them.
- SSO lets your team access multiple applications with one login credential without compromising security.
- Cloud-based services help you securely store and share your data without relying on physical servers or devices.
- MDM lets you manage and secure your employees’ mobile devices remotely without interfering with their personal data or usage.
According to a global study conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, involving over 5,000 businesses, 52% of companies believe they face risks from within. Whether intentionally, due to carelessness or lack of knowledge, employees were identified as significant contributors to a business’s vulnerability to cybercrime.
This means that educating your employees about cybersecurity best practices and how to avoid cyber threats is vital for protecting your data and systems.
Employee cybersecurity training should cover topics such as:
- Password management — educate your employees on creating strong passwords and not sharing or reusing them.
- Phishing and social engineering — show your employees how to recognize and avoid phishing emails and other social engineering tactics that attackers use to trick them into revealing sensitive information.
- Safe Internet browsing — train your employees on safe Internet browsing practices, such as avoiding suspicious websites and not downloading unknown files.
- Incident reporting — instruct your employees on how to report security incidents and emphasize the importance of doing so in a timely manner.
Conduct training regularly and tailor it to your employee’s specific needs and roles. You can also use gamification, quizzes, simulations, feedback, rewards, and other methods to make the training more engaging and effective.
Online collaboration tools help create a virtual office environment fostering teamwork, creativity, and innovation.
Seek out platforms that offer end-to-end encryption, MFA, and other robust security features.
Organizations that adopt secure collaboration tools experience enhanced employee involvement and a decreased probability of security breaches.
To further ensure data security, adopt a data security platform. This is a software solution that helps you automate and simplify the implementation and management of data security policies. It also lets you apply granular access controls based on roles, permissions, and context in your organization.
Every industry is on the same daunting page when it comes to finding how to prioritize data security and productivity without one effort compromising the outcome of the other. Luckily, as challenges unfold, so do solutions. Finding a balance between enforcing robust cybersecurity and driving employee productivity requires more than a rinse/repeat technique.
This means that while the above-mentioned solutions are the day’s ideal order, tomorrow’s prerequisites may require looking in another direction. It calls for continuous research and testing of strategic practices to keep up with what’s new and what’s to be done to thrive.