Mitigating the risk of cyberthreats in the era of COVID-19

Mitigating the risk of cyberthreats in the era of COVID-19

Ephrem Tesfai, Sales Engineering Manager, Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Genetec, explains how companies can help employees mitigate the risks of cyberattacks.

Since the onset of COVID-19, the pandemic changed our lives on a global scale in an unprecedented way, as it disrupted how individuals interact, communicate and work in a fundamental way. Within a blink of an eye, businesses were shut and entire cities were put in lockdown. With such extensive disruptions, employers were faced with no choice but to send their employees home for the unforeseeable future.

While working from home, employees were faced with uncertainty and fears of cyberthreats. Aware of the risks, businesses reacted quickly by looking for ways to secure not just corporate networks, but also personal computing. However, it soon became evident that there was a lack of awareness of the right tools to protect communications remotely.

Best practices and top cybersecurity resources

This year, UAE residents saw over 100,000 cyberattacks during the month of June and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) responded to over 34,000 cyberattacks on federal entities. Unauthorised access, phishing and ransomware are examples of the attacks that saw growing numbers in the country since the beginning of the pandemic in March. As employees remain distributed between the office and home, there is an abundance of high-value and often-sensitive data being accessed from unprotected networks.

Businesses are under increased pressure to ensure employees have everything they need to adapt to working from outside the office. New cyber-risks can emerge when uninformed employees access critical systems and data from a distance or use personal devices. To minimise possible threats, it is important for organisations to adapt their network, systems and policies so their employees can securely work from home. Educating employees about best practices for remote work can minimise potential points of entry and keep company resources and data safe.

Also, investing in data encryption tools helps hold off phishing threats. Encryption keeps data protected and hidden from unauthorised users, as well as secures communication between devices, clients and servers. Moreover, system users should employ authorisation capabilities that verifies if an entity is who it claims to be. It is an important feature because it both prevents unauthorised access and ensures that security personnel, and not someone else, is accessing the system when they log in. It is best to use multiple layers of authentications such as username and passwords, tokens, certificates and others. This is commonly known as multi-factor authentication, and it is the best way to validate the identity of a user, server or client app before granting them access to your data or systems. For instance, security systems like the Security Centre Synergis IP access control system (ACS) heightens the security of organisations and increases readiness to respond to incidents and threats, while leveraging any existing network and security equipment investments.

Additionally, there are certain processes that businesses set-up early on and tend to forget about, such as system authorisations and passwords. However, regularly updating passwords and reviewing system authorisations is of utmost importance, as this can restrict the scope of activity within systems as well as block any unauthorised access. A best-practice tip? Always remember to use strong passwords with lots of variation in characters, numbers or symbols. The more creative you get; the less likely passwords can become compromised.

Finally, using built-in maintenance tools is of absolute necessity, as the majority of us do not have time to self-assess our systems regularly. Having a tool that does that automatically saves plenty of time and energy. There are many built-in capabilities that help you keep your system running at peak performance, such as The System Availability Monitor (SAM), The Genetec Update Service (GUS) and the Security Score Widget.

 It is of utmost importance for organisations and individuals to not become complacent and remain vigilant. Investing in the right security systems will help them stay ahead of phishers and hackers who are preying on employees currently working from home. Organisations that have quickly adapted to working from home and the ones who prioritised securing personal computing early on are ahead of the curve and can enjoy secure and undisrupted workflow.

Click below to share this article

Browse our latest issue

Intelligent CIO Middle East

View Magazine Archive