IN the face of rising incidences of cyber-attacks on businesses and charities, Chartered Accountants Wylie & Bisset is advising company directors to ensure that homeworkers are vigilant against the rising risk of Covid-fuelled cyber-attacks.
And the firm has welcomed the launch of the UK’s first cyber incident response helpline for the SME community by the Scottish Business Resilience Centre to help victims of cybercrime understand what support is immediately available to them and help them recover.
Since Covid-19 restrictions came into force, many organisations have dealt with an increased dependence on technology to support remote working and a shift to take their businesses online, resulting in a rise in cyber incidents.
Graham Gillespie, partner at Wylie & Bisset, said: “The shift to employees working from home due to Covid restrictions raises the risk of data protection breaches. How do companies ensure that staff working from home are protecting company data? Are employees operating through a remote connection? Is it secure or are they downloading information to a home PC or laptop that may be vulnerable to fraudsters and cyber attackers?”
Gillespie advises that employers should use security awareness training on the best practices for secure working from home and protecting data. This can also include sending test emails to employees and record if they are clicking on links, which can help to educate employees on what to look out for in suspicious emails.
Employees should be following their companies remote working protocols, for example, remotely connecting to company systems using encrypted connections such as Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and use two factor authentications to enhance security. Where possible data should never be kept on employees’ own devices, such as emailing documents to a personal account and saving it to personal device.
“That is key because data leakage is a GDPR breach issue which raises the prospect of potential fines with the Information Commisioner’s Office,” he said.
Gillespie says that Covid has fuelled a rise in the number of attempted cyber-attacks on businesses from fraudsters using the pandemic as an opportunity to send scam emails and text messages encouraging people to click on links that prompt them to divulge sensitive information.
“Company directors need to be aware that instances of attempted cyber-attacks are on the rise and take steps to ensure that their staff are fully vigilant and never click on a link within emails and text messages that look suspicious in any way.
“If an organisation is not already doing it, they should be looking to enhance their email systems to scan for fraudulent, spam, spoofed emails along with scanning for viruses.”
Businesses can reach the cyber incident helpline by calling 01786 437472 weekdays 9am-5pm.