Fighting Cyber Threats in Challenging Times

The greatest outputs of small businesses during challenging times are often innovation and organizational change. Although many of you are struggling just to keep the doors open during our current COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis, some may have the luxury of available time to do some work on their businesses. Kicking your cyber hygiene program into gear might be a task on your “wish I had the time” list, and if you find yourself working away from the office, securing your data and communications may be more important than ever. So if you are fighting cyber threats in challenging times, here are some tips for addressing cybersecurity issues:

Dedicate a machine for work purposes only

  • Do not use a computer shared with other family members who could accidentally install malware.

Use antivirus

  • Remember to not only install antivirus software but make sure it is set to download updates and perform periodic malware scans.

Back up your files

  • Set your computer for point-in-time backups, but not with a drive continuously attached. Ransomware is on the uptick again, and point-in-time backups can recover your data. Backups are awful handy when you spill coffee on your laptop, too!

Practice safe networking

  • If you use a dual band router, keep one band dedicated to work and the other for everything else.

Beware of bandwidth limitations

  • Two kids each watching video lessons and both parents on video meetings can devour your bandwidth and interrupt your work tasks. Schedule meetings, schoolwork, and entertainment at different times if bandwidth is an issue at your home.

Look out for webinar snoops

  • Pay attention to what is visible in the background on web video conference meetings. Participants may take note of expensive technology or desirable items behind you. Password protect your web conference meetings to keep uninvited guests from crashing your gathering. If you are using Zoom, do not share your generic, personal meeting ID with anyone outside your organization. The Zoom personal meeting ID is an “always on” meeting. Instead, schedule and generate unique meeting IDs for web conferences.

Have a plan B for hardware failure

  • Computers break down and hard drives fail—usually when you are under a deadline or working on a crucial task. Be ready to transfer your backed-up files to a spare machine or have a plan for how you can acquire a computer quickly to get it up and running without interruption to your business.

Work remotely safely

  • The nature of this crisis may have forced you to quickly set up a remote desktop application or VPN. Hackers use commonly-available online utilities to search for vulnerable remote desktops. Ensure that your configuration prevents discoverability.

Watch out for the sad side of human nature

  • Since the dawn of the Internet, scammers have used times of uncertainty to attack our data through our emotions. Be alert for COVID-themed messages from unknown addresses to avoid downloading malware or enabling macros in infected Microsoft documents. And, of course, never surrender any personal credentials to an unknown source. There is currently a phishing attempt purporting to originate with the World Health Organization in circulation we all need to avoid.

Cyber Health Check-Up

As with our doctor’s advice to exercise more and eat healthier, the above are all common sense measures. But just as we don’t always practice the best habits for our health, we sometimes get lax in the face of cybersecurity issues. Don’t add more problems to your overflowing plate at this time and take a few moments to do a self-check-up on your cyber health.

Help is Available Fighting Cyber Threats in Challenging Times

Need more cybersecurity tips or advising on any business topic? Contact your local Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network advisor by clicking here. All Wyoming SBDC Network services are completely confidential and offered at no cost to Wyoming residents.

For the latest COVID-19 (coronavirus) assistance, resources, and news, visit our COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses page — updated regularly.

About the Author: Jim Drever is a Certified Ethical Hacker. He was born in Laramie, WY, and although he considers Wyoming home, Jim spent several years abroad studying and working in places like Japan, Switzerland, Scotland and Germany. He has also worked as Marketing Director for a local software company.

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