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Five ways to strengthen your company’s cybersecurity during COVID-19

  • Article

The increase of Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases across the country is pushing companies to implement “home office” policies to maintain continuity in the business which might exponentially increase cyber-attacks during this period of social distancing.

In situations like these, dependency on digital communications multiplies.
Workers are reducing on-site interactions and are adopting video calls, social media publications, messaging through chat apps and e-mail.
During this home office stage and in need to continue operations on digital mode, risks and cyber fraud increase for the following reasons:

  • They take advantage of remote operation vulnerabilities
  • Not all personnel has the immediate availability to approve transactions
  • Full lack of knowledge of the operation continuity plans
  • Stress rises on emergency conditions in a crisis environment
  • They take advantage of urgent operations and panic purchases.

According to the cybersecurity company Cynet, Italy reported a high increase in cyber-attacks and phishing in the last three weeks compared to other territories, which indicates that attackers are strongly looking for user login credentials.

What can you do to protect your business? Here we share the following advice:

  • Make sure all smartphones, tablets or computers have updated OS. You can configure automatic software installation updates so they may be applied when available. The same should be done with all the application updates in your devices. Install updates when you are connected to a safe WiFi or LAN connection. This way you will quickly acquire any safety improvements designed to avoid access from potential hackers. You should also install an antivirus software to protect your devices from any malware.
  • Password changes.Lengthy passwords mean more protection. A wide variety of characters (Uppercase & lowercase letters, numbers and symbols) make them more difficult to decipher. Another way to strengthen a password is to encode unrelated words. If you perform any online transactions or through a mobile application there are other security measures you may apply. For example, Touch ID or Face ID access to HSBCnet adds biometric security to your bank application. Configuring a digital account can actually be a good defense strategy against possible cybercriminals. Security layers makes it more difficult for them to access your account or fraudulently configure an account under their name.
  • Increase verification.Increase your attention when you install software or provide any information. Do not click on any unknown e-mail links. When subscribing to new services verify the source of URL’s and make sure that all programs or applications that you install come from a trusted source. Digital viruses spread as fast as physical viruses and any mistake can easily contaminate others in your company, an address book or the overall community. Do not encourage emergency operations, it’s better to apply verification protocols and 24 hour application of your transactions. It’s preferable that all verification protocols are done through telephone calls with dual authorization controls, establishing additional controls through security questions or passwords and making sure approvers are always available. Secure all remote access verifications through password and access control programs by obtaining a certification from your personnel to operate in a secure environment from home.
  • Secure Connections. Always look for a lock in the address bar to confirm your internet connection is secure. For example, if you are browsing www.business.hsbc.com.br and you see a lock, you know it is interacting in a secure manner with HSBC. Make sure websites are genuine by verifying the address and search for spelling mistakes, additional words, characters or other irregularities. Forbid external device usage such as USB, disk, and make sure information sharing is encrypted. Segregate the company’s network access to the personal network of your employees.
  • Banking transfers and purchases.When you shop online search for the lock on the address bar before entering your payment data. Never pay through bank transfer if you do not recognize the vendor. Always use a credit or debit card, Paypal or any other payment option that offers fraud protection. Avoid manual payments through cheque or paper and migrate to digital alternatives. Make sure you make use of the personalized support service of your bank for the quick verification of any transaction.

The Global Economic Forum in its COVID Action Platform advices that “In the current unprecedented context of today, a cyberattack that deprives organizations or families to access their devices, data or internet may be devastating or even deadly: in the worst case scenario, cyberattacks could cause general infrastructure failure that affect whole communities or cities, obstructing suppliers of medical attention, public systems and networks”.

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