With 2021 now in full swing, we can reflect and draw insights from the year that has passed. 2020 was a year filled with hardship for our society at-large as COVID-19 presented a shock to global institutions unlike any other. Health implications aside, small businesses were significantly impacted by the effects of COVID-19 as many companies were shuttered due to government mandates, and strict work-from-home (WFH) policies were implemented, creating a distributed workforce on an unprecedented scale. In fact, these WFH policies do not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Some estimates suggest that as many as 40% of employees will continue to work remotely even after the pandemic recedes, with many businesses choosing to downsize their brick-and-mortar footprints. This is the new normal.
The implications of our new normal are very wide-reaching but certainly, cybersecurity issues have been of top concern as employees have begun to work on home networks, lacking the traditional safety precautions of the modern corporate environment. A study conducted this year suggests that while many executives felt prepared to carry out a swift transition to a distributed workforce during the pandemic, 98% subsequently faced security challenges. This was despite the fact that 3 out of 4 companies increased their IT spend to smooth the transition.
Unsurprisingly, 90% of businesses reported an increase in the frequency of attacks. There are many reasons for the steep rise in these numbers – to begin, simply consider the increased attack vector: visibility of new (personal) devices, implementation of VPN policies, increased reliance on video conferencing, reliance on external file-sharing services, and many more. Now counterbalance these security concerns with the opposite need to respect employees’ privacy within their own home networks. Small businesses, especially those without IT personnel on staff, are presented with an extremely steep hill to climb and little time to prepare for the obstacles they face.
It should come as no surprise, then, that a business will fall victim to ransomware every 14 seconds and the general population is affected by hacking every 39 seconds. These attacks can be extremely costly – on average, organizations pay a ransom of $233,217 to recover their compromised data. Even worse, due to the excessive costs and potential damage to business reputation, 60% of small businesses go out of business within six months of a data breach or cyber attack.
This data paints a bleak picture for the state of small businesses amidst the many other struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. DON’T PANIC – there are many simple steps that you can take to protect your distributed workforce.
For example, using endpoint protection agents, such as Sophos Endpoint or Cylance, can protect your devices. Using Multi-Factor Authentication is highly recommended when available. Using password managers can also make it easier for users to follow password best practices by automatically generating and saving complex passwords that are difficult to guess.
Syfer also seeks to ease the burden on small businesses via partnerships with ISPs and MSPs, enabling the distribution of security services via backend DNS integrations. Syfer detects and blocks threats such as malware, ransomware, phishing, botnets, viruses, and more by disrupting malicious network communications that can compromise a network. This means that all devices connected to a Syfer-secured internet are protected from communicating and being harmed by these malicious actors. Syfer also comes with an intuitive dashboard that allows users to manage their security and keep an eye on their network activity.