Cyber crime warning over rise of ‘agile worker’

Jonathan Smy, director of SMY IT Services Picture: SMY IT SERVICES

Jonathan Smy, director of SMY IT Services Picture: SMY IT SERVICES - Credit: Archant

Businesses whose employees are working from home due to the coronavirus crisis are at a heightened risk of “catastrophic” attacks from cyber criminals, experts have warned.

Sarah Adams, sales team leader at PolicyBee Picture: POLICYBEE

Sarah Adams, sales team leader at PolicyBee Picture: POLICYBEE - Credit: Archant

Capel St Mary-based Smy IT and Ipswich digital insurance brokers PolicyBee said setting up home offices overnight came with risks as remote working exposed gaps in firms’ IT security.

Figures from insurer Hiscox suggest even before the pandemic, cybercrime against businesses was rising fast. It found one in three small businesses suffered a cyber-attack in 2018 with one business attacked every 19 seconds.

MORE – ‘Don’t feel alone’ urges business which became case study for government fundSmy IT managing director Jonathan Smy said instead of waiting for disaster to strike, businesses should take preventative action.

With “agile working” on the rise even before the coronavirus lockdown, cloud computing was already building more flexibility into the workplace, he said.

“Cloud computing – the delivery of services over the internet which makes files accessible wherever you’re working – can make the difference to a business being able to continue to function with a new at-home policy, compared to those that do not have the technology to do so,” he said.

But he added: “There are some security concerns associated with agile working including vulnerable mobile data, unreliable public wi-fi and a lack of security guidance.”

These can be tackled through authentication measures and enforcing the use of virtual private network (VPN)s, he said.

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Sarah Adams, sales team leader at PolicyBee, said staff need to be aware of hacking methods.

“Many small businesses operate under a false sense of security, thinking that the business is protected from cybercrime because their IT provider has it covered. But great IT support does not mean they are fully protected in the event of a cyber-attack,” she said.

“All it takes is for an employee to open the wrong email attachment and hackers could instantly have access to a company’s data or systems. And the cost to fix the problem can be catastrophic.”

Unsecured networks provide opportunities for cybercriminals to strike, particularly relevant when many people are working from home, she warned. “To a cybercriminal, an unprotected small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) is the equivalent of handing your house keys to a burglar.”

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