Home working ‘amplifying’ stolen data threat for firms

are smes at risk of a cyberattack
By James Nadal | 30th April 2020 | 19 min read

The cybercrime threat to business is rising, with remote working set to become 'the new normal'

Cybercriminals are exploiting the sudden rise in home working to pose a new threat to businesses and their personal data, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is warning.

The NCSC and other security bodies like Action Fraud are reporting increased evidence of online criminal activities targeting individuals and firms.

For those working in accountancy and payroll who hold a high level of confidential and financial data, this will be a particular worry.

Is client data more vulnerable now?

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, accountancy firms were labelled “at particular risk”, by The ICAEW, because of the type of information they store, such as names, addresses, National Insurance numbers, and bank details.

Client data is extremely precious and keeping it safe is vital for firms at all times. But this is under increasing threat with remote working already looking likely to be 'the new normal' for some time yet, possibly most of the remainder of this year.

The NCSC says: “The surge in home working has increased the use of potentially vulnerable services, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), amplifying the threat to individuals and organisations. Cybercriminals are preying on fears of the coronavirus and sending 'phishing' emails that try to trick users into clicking on a bad link. Once clicked, the user is sent to a dodgy website which could download malware onto your computer, or steal passwords.” 

So, could working from home be an invitation to would-be thieves to steal client data? Yes – unless firms are taking the highest security measures to protect it.

How can you protect client data?

There are plenty of providers offering solutions for remote working, but does yours give you the highest level of security? Does it have the following features?

  • Two-factor authentication – as with online banking, it means a password combined with another means of authentication, such as a one-off code sent by text message
  • Sophisticated firewalls capable of intensely interrogating every bit of traffic to your site, and investigating and blocking where necessary
  • Encryption – an extra layer of security to keep files locked and hidden from prying eyes
  • Brute force attacks detection – to monitor and prevent attackers who use a computer to try multiple login combinations until they find one that works
  • Sandboxing – effectively detonating dangerous scam email attachments

Can you afford to ignore the risks?

Clearly not. Having client data stolen can be extremely serious - incurring financial and reputational damage. On top of potentially huge fines from the Information Commissioner, you’re at risk of future claims from clients for failing to maintain their records properly. Therefore, it’s vital to ensure your system and data is fully protected.

Looking for help?

IRIS is here to help and bring certainty in these uncertain times. Please visit our hub for a huge range of resources on home working and business continuity.

Our fast track IRIS Hosting service offers a solution to organisations needing to quickly and safely set up home working, providing the highest levels of data security and protection, including the features described above.

Want to learn more? Call our team on  0344 844 9644