Let’s face it, no matter how old your business is or how little it relies on computers; data security has always been important – you lock your office doors after all…

But there’s no ignoring the fact that the amount of digital information that businesses create is growing at an almost incomprehensible rate, across all industries no matter their size.

Then there’s the needs of hybrid workers, and the challenges businesses face when staff who work from home are taking valuable customer and corporate data home!

Given that hybrid working is becoming a popular choice, both for staff and employers, businesses of all scopes and headcounts need to make sure that their digital data is as safe as their physical data and resources.

So, we decided to publish our top tips for securing your business data this year!

But, before we tell you, let’s get on the same page about a couple of things…

What is hybrid working?

‘Hybrid working’ is a term that’s become incredibly common over the last 24 months, to describe how employees split their time between working in and out of the office. And we’re not talking field salespeople here, more the staff that can do the exact same job from anywhere they may be.

For example, a member of your marketing or sales teams probably only needs a computer with the right software installed, as well as a phone line, to start working from home, while others may require being on a physical site to meet their responsibilities.

‘Remote working’ on the other hand, is when an employee doesn’t have to work in a central office at all!

Whether remote or hybrid, both of these modes of operation have their benefits – better work/life balance for staff, lower costs for premises and services, greater flexibility – but one of the biggest drawbacks is how these strategies open your business to an increasing number of IT security threats.

Why would this open a business up to IT security threats?

In a nutshell; because any form of hybrid or remote working increases the number of routes that could provide hackers with access to your data!

A growing network edge

Imagine a spiderweb, where your business is the spider, the web is all of the data you send throughout your business. And where it’s attached to something; that’s the data’s destination – maybe an employee’s computer or possibly a commercial partner’s CRM system…

Pre-pandemic, there weren’t as many points that the data (web) could be sent to (whatever the web is attached to). Now, there are hundreds, if not thousands more silk strands – phones, tablets, mobiles, home internet connections, in the spider’s web that are helping keep it stable…

However, some of those new strands have now become load bearing as the balance shifted, distributing critical information that if broken, could bring the spider’s whole web down to the ground. And because the spider now has so many strands to maintain, it can’t keep all of them firmly attached, so it’s just a matter of time before something or someone breaks the wrong strand!

Lack of visibility and control

Now for an easier metaphor – in your physical premises it’s easier to catch thieves – you see someone you don’t recognise carrying something that belongs to your business, and stop them! And chances are, your business’s existing network safeguards are the same for the traffic that comes in or out of your HQ. This is the visibility and control your business has over its data traffic.

But with staff working from home, those safeguards can’t tell where that data is going, or where it came from, because it’s going from personal devices that aren’t connected to your main network. So, you can’t maintain the same level of awareness over your data, or even control where it’s going!

Human error

Of course, we hate to blame ‘people’, but we are all fallible! A member of your team may forget their laptop on the bus ride back from the café they’ve been working at, or a child may spill water all over a laptop that had the sole copy of this years’ finances…

Also, hackers primarily leverage common human behaviours to gather employee information and credentials such as passwords, though phishing scams and malware attacks, which opens up all your data to be accessed by anyone with the credentials, at any time!

To summarise, the data protection challenges that any form or remote or hybrid working bring to the table aren’t as simple to overcome as increasing the scrutiny of any existing security services you use, or simply installing malware and anti-virus protection on your homeworker devices.

Only with a mix of training, constant supervision and robust security policies can you truly plug-up all of the holes, and possible ways that data may ‘leak’ from your operation.

Get informed with The Definite Guide to Managed IT Services

What should businesses consider doing to avoid this?

Now that’s all sorted, let’s get to the useful bit; the tips!

Find a trusted security partner

Especially if you don’t have the in-house experience or resource, the quickest way to resolve all these data-dangers is by finding someone who can. And the best bit is that the cost of a Managed Service Provider like MoonComputers to look after your network, is far lower than hiring someone internally!

Not only will you save money via outsourcing but you’ll also get a far higher level of service – one that’s available 24 hours a day and doesn’t take holidays!

They can also help talk you through all of the complex jargon and acronyms, so you’re not having to do it yourself, and recommend a solution that will work, rather than one that might.

Train your team

According to the government’s own data, 86% of UK businesses didn’t provide training or awareness sessions for their employees on cyber security in 2020. And, especially considering how these data challenges relate directly to home working – this stat had us shocked.

According to Deloitte, 91% of cyber-attacks start with a phishing email, making quality training one of the cheapest, simplest and most effective methods of minimising your vulnerabilities!

This is because in our experience, 99.9999999999% of phishing emails are easily identifiable.

They may have incorrect spelling or grammar as they are usually based in non-English speaking countries, or logos may be old and low-quality. Email addresses are usually from strange accounts and usually ask for an urgent request to hasten the reader to fulfilling the demand, and we can help run your team through all of the key identifiers, and what to do when one is found!

Invest in network management and IT security

Both these terms; ‘network management’ and ‘IT security’ may seem daunting prospects to research, let alone justify purchasing, but the coming years will prove the worth of these kinds of solutions – we’d be willing to bet the bank on that!

It’s logical to expect that businesses will continue to increase their reliance on the devices and internet services used to connect with their customers, so making sure that experience is safeguarded and issue-free, is essential.

However, there are hundreds of competition vendors and suppliers, all promoting their technologies and services, so just like finding any business with which you want to collaborate, it’s important to make sure they can meet your expectations, so remember to check their case studies, testimonials and scrutinise the quality of the interactions you have with them…

If they make you feel dumb, or that you don’t know what your doing – find someone else.

If they walk you through every question you have, and take the time to understand your business, like we do – you’re probably on to a winner!

And whether you’re just starting on your journey to air-tight data security, or you’re looking for an experienced, knowledgeable partner that can help you advance your current protections, we’re always happy to help!