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  • Writer's pictureHoward Sheldon

Are we so distracted that we’re leaving the window open to cyber threats?

Something that has been an endless source of frustration in my career is the extent to which people often treat cyber security as an afterthought. It’s a thorn in a business owner’s side, something that they keep getting told they need to do but would really rather not spend the money on. Now, this doesn’t frustrate me because I offer cyber security services but the fact that I know, in almost every single case, people only come to me after their security has been compromised. In some instances, the issue will be so severe that it can cripple that business.

Now I don’t mean to be the voice of doom here, I’m sharing this thought because cyber security has been massively on my mind these last few weeks. The reason is; we’re witnessing a shift in the way that we’re all working, the likes we’ve never seen before. Business leaders’ attentions have understandably concentrated onto adapting to this new regime and keeping their companies running. My worry is that this will leave many leaders distracted and open to significant threats.

Our working situation right now is the equivalent of Christmas come early for hackers. There are thousands and thousands of workers now using personal machines to work from home - machines that potentially haven’t been updated properly, don’t have the right security in place and now using a host of new programmes and platforms that offer hackers the opportunity to get inside an organisation’s personal data.

Let’s take an example that most of you will likely be familiar with. The security issues with the video platform Zoom have been well publicised. Practically overnight, the number of people using Zoom around the world have skyrocketed beyond anything they could ever have prepared for. It’s basically the equivalent of a small family restaurant suddenly being the only source of food in the middle of a big city – and with it, security issues that weren’t too serious before can now very easily be exploited.

The reason that the combination of an employee’s personal machine and platforms like Zoom (and I’m not singling out Zoom, there are many other platforms with similar security holes) is a dangerous one is that it provides hackers with a way into your systems. Most organisations have pretty sturdy firewalls, I liken these to your front door – strong, secure, most likely with big substantial lock. No one is going to attempt to burgle your house by coming through the front door. However, what you’re now providing that burglar with is a visible, virtual open side window to climb through.

Basically, what I’m saying is that your security is only as good as the weakest point. When you have less control over the machines that your people are using, it’s possible that you have more weak points and security holes than you realise.

This is another situation where effective cloud services provide the extra protection that you urgently need. Unlike using a VPN, with cloud-based hosted desktops, you can ensure that none of your windows are open for hackers to cause you serious damage. The cloud allows you to place a physical divide between your company data and information and the personal device being used at home. With no information on the machines themselves, or direct network into company files and folders – home laptops/devices become ‘dumb terminals. Your company information will be properly protected. All windows, doors and cat flaps are locked and secure.

At Oz Cloud, we can get your systems and information up on the cloud, completely safe, and all your home user terminals secure in as little as 2-3 days – with no disruption to your business. Not only will it help protect you against the very real threats during these strange times. It’ll also set you up for better and more effective working when all this is over. I said in my last piece that I believe that we’re seeing the dawn of an era of significantly increased remote working. In order to fully enjoy the benefits of this, you need to have the right systems in place. You need to be protected and safe.

So, let’s check our proverbial windows – make sure there aren’t any weaknesses to exploit. Think about how your data and information is being accessed and what threats these pose to your business. It’s a time when we’re all being constantly reminded to stay safe and take precautions – make sure this applies to your business too.

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