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Tech

IT Mistakes Small Businesses Have Made in Changing to Work-from-Home

 April 20, 2020

By  Tim Starnes

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID19) businesses scrambled to transition to a work-from-home model. It has been around a month since the majority of businesses have transitioned over, and four items have been the biggest questions posed to us by new clients:

  1. What are the most common mistakes small businesses make when it comes to data security? 

The unifying mistake is that the management of organizations simply do not understand that security must be looked at holistically rather than a chart of data. Security isn’t simply installing antivirus software on any device that will accommodate it. It goes further than an IT department being staffed and given basic funding. 

  • Properly Updating Software: Enable automatic updates for both your operating system, as well as all applications. Many security loopholes are opened by insecure software. 
  • Giving Infections Time: Security scans should be made frequently, as extensive periods between allow viruses to work their way in without detection – by the time a virus scan is performed, it could be too late, as the virus could have hidden itself already, making it near impossible to find. 
  • Enable Deep Packet Scanning: The deep packet approach scans not only the contents of a file, but all files attached to it as well. 
  • Avoid Public WiFi: It is best to universally avoid public WiFi, but if using it is absolutely necessary, it is a great idea to use a VPN – a VPN will keep all data traffic private, ensuring that prying eyes aren’t able to take a look at what is heading in and out – information that can include sensitive information like passwords, usernames and card numbers. 
  • Utilizing Antivirus Software: It is important to utilize an antivirus software that works offline, as some antivirus programs stop working when offline. Check for offline mode before making a purchase and understand what those limitations are. If in doubt, contact the software’s customer support team. 
  • Patch or Replace Outdated Hardware:  

Hardware such as routers, servers, printers, fax machines, storage devices are often forgotten. 

  1. What are Some Easy Small Steps That Businesses Can Take to Keep Data Safe? 

Look at security as three pillars safely holding your organization’s data up, like a platform in a flood. 

  • Third Pillar: Technology 
  • Second Pillar: Processes 
  • First Pillar: People 

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  1. How Does the Current Remote Work Environment Impact Small Business Data Security? 

Unfortunately, organizations aren’t placing a lot of emphasis on security, as “what works” has taken the forefront – employees and managers are scrambling to adapt to solutions that work out-of-the-box and allow work to continue. However, once this first wave of settling in finishes, organizations will need to return to the security question quickly or we will begin to see extensive data breaches in any industry that is working from home. 

As the work-from-home push started, organizations were simply sending their employees home with their work devices, giving them access to a VPN to bridge the gap between and supplying the IT techs with a remote access tool to maintain all equipment remotely. This doesn’t leave a lot of space for ensuring that connections are private, and all devices are secure, as that would require invading each employee’s privacy to look at their home equipment and settings. 

As we’ve already witnessed (and solved) happening, employees are accidentally infecting their work devices and costing their employers by bringing those infections into the company network. 

  1. Are You A Small Business Adjusting to Communicating Entirely Virtually for the First Time? What are You Doing to Keep Data Safe? 

We are a cybersecurity firm, so we aren’t facing these problems listed above as they had been resolved before transferring to the work-from-home model. Though for us, it isn’t business as usual either, we are seeing a larger number of new client calls, as well as increased urgent support tickets being put in by clients who have not signed on to have their entire network covered.  

For better or worse, most organizations are simply transferring the software they were using before transferring to remote. Some commonly used solutions include Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Skype. 

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