Working Remotely: How To Secure The Work-From-Home Environment

Working Remotely: How To Secure The Work-From-Home Environment

As cyber criminals take advantage of flaws in remote working setups, we’re looking at ways to operate securely in these uncertain times.

It’s amazing just how quickly ‘the new normal’ has become…well, normal.

Go back twelve months and ask any industry expert for their insights headed into the year, and it’s unlikely any of them could have predicted this. Sure, working remotely is nothing new. It’s been growing in popularity for years. Yet even we couldn’t have seen this kind of monumental, rapid change coming.

As we’ve discussed in recent months, the shift in how the world works has changed the way we all work. Organisations, enterprises, and board rooms have had to adapt to remote working on short notice. Digital solutions are now the norm. Cybersecurity risks are on the rise, as are data breaches as a result.

It’s a tough world out there at the moment…

…but it’s what’s happening within the four walls most of us find ourselves working within that may be putting your organisation, its data, and its documents most at risk.

The security risks are coming from inside the house

A rushed response has left massive security gaps in organisations across the globe.

As Charlie Osborne reported over at ZDNet in her article “Working from home causes surge in security breaches, staff ‘oblivious’ to best practices” published in late August, a recent report from Malwarebytes highlights just how much of a security issue working remotely has become:

“…since the start of the pandemic, remote workers have caused a security breach in 20% of organizations.”

That’s not all. Malwarebytes also found that 24% of organisations have had to pay unexpected costs to address cybersecurity breaches or malware infections, while 5% stated that their staff were “oblivious” to best security practices.

Cybersecurity may conjure images of dimly lit rooms, nefarious websites, and shady individuals hacking network mainframes with not one but two keyboards, but the reality is much simpler: one of today’s biggest threats to your organization’s cybersecurity is…you and your home working environment.

In the last few months alone, basic human errors and preventable mistakes have led to data breaches that have made international headlines. Australia’s iTNews recently reported that “Tens of thousands of scanned NSW driver’s licenses and completed tolling notice statutory declarations were left exposed on an open Amazon Web Services storage instance…“.

Elsewhere, The Guardian highlights a hack of Service NSW that “…led to the theft of more than 500,000 documents containing personal information relating to 186,000 people…” could have been prevented by simply enabling multi-factor authentication.

The question is, how do you avoid becoming the next headline?

Securing your remote working environments is as simple as…

The new normal is the new normal for a reason: it isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

As the dust begins to settle on a year we’d all likely rather forget, it’s vital that your organisation takes action to ensure it’s able to operate securely in this new environment now and into the future. Here’s how:

  • Review your organisation’s data protection, security plan, and remote working policies to ensure they’re up-to-date and relevant for today’s environment.
  • Secure home and / or remote WiFi networks with strong passwords and ensure the network isn’t being shared by other devices or users.
  • Avoid sending sensitive information or data to private or personal email accounts, computers, or devices as they tend to be far less secure.
  • Where possible, only use work-issued devices that have been prepared by your IT team.
  • Ensure staff are up-to-speed with the latest security threats such as phishing scams or malware.
  • Limit employees’ remote access to only the data they need to carry out their jobs, which is simply to do with management and distribution software such as Stellar.
Data Breaches Soar 273% In The Wake Of COVID-19. Here’s How To Stay Secure

Data Breaches Soar 273% In The Wake Of COVID-19. Here’s How To Stay Secure

Why cybersecurity shortcuts are causing spikes in data breaches and what your organisation can do to ensure it doesn’t end up as just another statistic.

As COVID-19 case numbers continue to surge in countries across the globe, recent reports suggest the business world is seeing a similarly sharp rise in the number of data breaches, hacks, and cyber attacks.

A recent study conducted by Atlasvpn found that large-scale data breaches increased by a massive 273% between January and March this year when compared with the same period last year. Over 8.4 billion documents were leaked over the course of just three months.

The problem is, that number is still rising.

Confusion leads to cybersecurity chaos

Looking back, it’s easy to see why.

Cybercriminals have capitalized on the ensuing chaos caused by the emergence of COVID-19, and the resulting – and sudden – shift to the largely uncharted territory of mass remote working initiatives.

More people than ever before are working remotely. In many cases they’re also operating in an unsecured home environment, over a public network, using personal devices and consumer grade software solutions that may not boast the security required to keep data safe.

Where security experts see the countless flaws in this setup, cyber criminals see opportunities.

It just so happens many New Zealand organisations just…don’t see a problem.

Complacency is a (data) killer

A man holding a laptop bag and a medical face mask

Confusion may have sparked this cybersecurity fire, but it’s complacency that’s fueling it.

Only 22% of Kiwis are worried about a security breach while working remotely. That’s according to new research just released by Unisys. Statistics like these are great news opportunistic cyber attackers, hackers, and unscrupulous third parties.

It’s complacency that has resulted in such a staggering increase in cyber attacks in the wake of COVID-19. VMware reports Ransomware attacks are up 90%. Destructive attacks, up 102%. Island Hopping? Up 33%.

Boards. Businesses. Nonprofits. Even the Healthcare industry isn’t immune. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reported a 50% increase in data breaches between February and May. Meanwhile the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports a five-fold increase in cyber attacks.

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Cyber attacks are nothing new. Neither is working remotely. We should know! As a collaborative platform provider from one of the remotest corners of the globe we’ve been helping organisations connect, collaborate, and distribute across the world for years.

What is new is the sheer volume of people from CEOs and CIOs through to secretaries and staff who now find themselves working remotely on short notice. Including many who up until recently may have still laughed off the idea of ever going digital. Such is the appeal of paper, it seems!

The result is cybersecurity chaos. Security shortcuts. Off-the-shelf software solutions. Unsecure network connections. In the past a personal data breach may have been limited to someone losing access to their Facebook account or files in a corrupted folder.

It’s a scarier proposition when you consider they’re now using these devices to access confidential data, information, and documents. It’s putting your organisation’s data and its long-term survivability at risk.

Secure your organisation’s future, simply

If you’re yet to take stock of remote working setups, now’s the time to do so.

Data breaches can prove costly. Shannon Williams from bizEDGE writes that:

“Using a conservative downtime cost of US$10,000 a day, it is estimated that ransomware attacks have cost New Zealand organisations US$25.9m this year.”

Staying secure in this uncertain era involves new policies, procedures, and secure digital solutions. Now is the perfect time to take a deep breath and take stock of your organisation’s setup to ensure you’re taking a methodical approach that puts security first.

Review procedures around personal devices, keep staff up-to-date on the latest security threats, and consider switching to a secure platform that allows teams to create, collaborate, and share documents while administrators retain control and visibility to ensure peace of mind in these uncertain times.

Workforce Transformation: Equipping Your Team For The New Era

Workforce Transformation: Equipping Your Team For The New Era

Why ensuring your team is equipped to face the challenges of a fast-changing world is more important now than ever.

If there was ever any lingering doubt…

…this year has highlighted that the idea of a ‘typical’ workplace is well and truly a thing of the past. 42% of the United State’s labour force is now working from home. 49% of UK employees say they’ve worked remotely in the last 7 days. While 89% of Kiwis suggest they’d like to keep it that way.

This sudden, monumental shift in the way things are done hasn’t been without its challenges. It now rests with CEOs, CIOs, and management teams to lead the way in facilitating change if organisations have any hope of continuing to operate in this new, digitally-reliant environment.

The trouble is, it’s often easier said than done.

Are your staff keeping pace with a changing world?

A workplace meeting

The way we do things is always changing.

Yet the pace at which things have changed in recent months took many by surprise.

While change may be perpetual, few organisations were equipped to embrace it. Why? Some have dragged their heels. Others have been resistant to change. This comes despite the fact that digital transformation has continued to rank high on the list of management priorities in leading surveys for years.

Whatever the reason, legacy systems, outdated technology, and old workplace practices now stand in the way of change. Managing an increasingly disconnected, global workforce in an increasingly digital, connected world without the right tools is an impossible challenge.

Holistic workforce management is only possible when everyone is moving in the same direction, which is difficult when you lack visibility, control, and effective communication across your teams.

Organisations now risk stagnation and a disengaged workforce that will inevitably snowball into decreased productivity, high staff turnover, and a loss in business turnover at a time when most are already staring down the potential for an economic downturn.

Transformational change doesn’t need to be costly

Digital devices in the workplace
Effective workforce transformation sits at the heart of what’s required for organisations and businesses of all shapes and sizes – from corporations and enterprises to SMEs and nonprofits – to find long-term success and survivability in this new era.

Equipping your teams with the training and tools they require to do their jobs effectively encourages engagement, boosts morale, and shows them a future for growth while your organisation benefits from the productivity, operational efficiencies, and cost savings of a connected, engaged workforce.

There are a few key components that make this kind of change possible:

  • The leading barrier to the adoption of new technology is fear and uncertainty, so facilitate change with sufficient training and resources for all of your staff.
  • Staff members can’t face the challenges of tomorrow with the tools of yesterday, so ensure they’re equipped with the right technology and software solutions including laptops, mobiles, or tablets.
  • A digitally connected workforce isn’t automatically a well-informed one, so keep your teams on the same page by facilitating effective communication.
  • A shift in operating environments and an uptick in remote working has seen an increase in potential cybersecurity threats which could halt transformation in its tracks, so keep your staff informed.
  • Consider the potential for increased flexibility in working requirements if team members are keen to continue to work remotely or from home whether full or part-time.
  • Facilitate effective workforce transformation with the visibility and clarity you require to do so with a cost-effective management platform that provides instant access to all communications, actions, and outcomes no matter where staff are working.
Cybersecurity & Remote Working: Tackling 2020’s Emerging Security Risks

Cybersecurity & Remote Working: Tackling 2020’s Emerging Security Risks

Why a rapid shift to working from home has seen a spike in security incidents, and what you can do to keep your organisation secure.

As if things weren’t already difficult enough, cyberattacks are on the rise.

In today’s strange new world, the home office has become the new work office. With a recent Gallup poll showing 62% of Americans working from home during the crisis – a number that doubled since mid-March – the change has been rapid, and not without its challenges.

Board members, staff, and employees the world over are now connecting to corporate and enterprise infrastructure via home devices, on home networks, in a home environment. The fallout has left organisations scrambling to secure these new remote working setups while ensuring business continuity.

Where security teams see vulnerabilities, cyber criminals see opportunities.

46% of businesses have suffered a cybersecurity incident during COVID-19

A recent study by IT security firm Barracuda Networks found 46% of respondents had experienced at least one security incident since the COVID-19 lockdown began, while 49% anticipated a data breach or similar cybersecurity incident within the next month.

Cybercriminals are keenly aware that cracks are emerging from the pressure, and they’re taking advantage of them. Take something as simple as a phishing email, for example. Stressed staff are far less likely to double check the ‘From:’ field on an email before opening it, inspect a link before clicking on it, or question an email attachment before opening it.

Identifying and rectifying these issues doesn’t just fall to staff. In many cases, security issues have been exacerbated by the shift to convenient, band-aid fixes that bypass policies and procedures put in place to keep data, documents, and sensitive information safe.

You may still be operating, but at what cost to your sensitive information and data?

Work from home’s most pressing security threats

A laptop on a desk

You don’t need to be yet another cybersecurity statistic.

Knowledge is power, so here are some of the most pressing threats you need to know about:

  • Sophisticated phishing email scams related to COVID-19 providing fake business updates from the CDC and World Health Organisation (WHO), offers of free vaccinations, as well as donation scams.
  • Fake Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet invite emails containing links that instead download malware to the user’s device, which is then able to access sensitive data and documents.
  • Attackers targeting inherent security flaws in personal devices and networks used in a home working environment including mobiles, tablets, and laptops which may already be affected by malware or viruses.
  • Staff using personal email addresses, messenger apps, and personal cloud storage accounts like Dropbox or Google Drive because it’s ‘easier’ and ‘quicker’.

Regain clarity and control across your remote-working environment

This new normal is known as the ‘new normal’ for a reason: it isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

Recent increases in cybersecurity incidents are a clear sign that organisations like yours desperately require a long-term solution that will allow you to secure your new remote working setup while ensuring business continuity.

Achieving this clarity, control, and security is as easy if you:

  • Educate staff on the warning signs of potential threats including phishing scams and malware.
  • Only use trusted WiFi networks, and enable two-factor authentication on applicable accounts.
  • Ask that staff use unique passwords for any new digital work accounts so they’re not shared with personal accounts that may be more susceptible to a breach such as social media.
  • Limit the use of personal devices where possible, and instead supply staff with dedicated work devices that have been properly secured.
  • Ensure software and firmware updates are installed to avoid known security flaws, and that anti-virus software, firewalls, and virtual private networks (VPNs) are set up as and where required.
  • Transition to a comprehensive, secure business platform such as Stellar. Stellar’s unique advanced encryption technology combats modern day security risks, so staff are able to securely access important documents, data, and information no matter where they are or the device they’re using.
Keeping Sales & Marketing Teams On The Same Page

Keeping Sales & Marketing Teams On The Same Page

How to achieve clarity across your teams at a time when productivity, efficiency, and sales are paramount.

Few working relationships are as closely tied as sales and marketing.

Whether back at the office, on the shop floor, or giving a presentation to a prospective client two cities over, sales and marketing teams rely on one another to achieve success. They’re agile. They’re reactive. They’re also able to make adjustments on the fly with access to the latest facts, figures, and data…

…or, so they should. Achieving effective communication between your teams and clarity across materials is difficult on any given day. Throw in a global pandemic, a shift in operations, and the pressure of survivability relying on meeting sales goals, and it’s little wonder staying on the same page is tough.

Clarity? It isn’t always guaranteed

Man giving a sales presentation

In a perfect world, your marketing and sales teams would operate in perfect harmony.

If you’ve been around as long as we have, you’ll know reality is rarely so kind. Most modern organisations, enterprises, nonprofits, and even boards are a mess of moving pieces. The more pieces in play, the more likely they are to come tumbling down at the slightest hiccup. The flow-on effect can be devastating.

The relationship between sales and marketing is cyclical. It’s an important yet fragile relationship. Marketing teams invest time and money developing the message, but it isn’t created in a vacuum.

Sales teams and their first-hand experience inform these decisions. How effective is the material when delivered to potential clients? What about their reactions to pricing, or packages?

Sales teams are just as reliant on marketing, requiring instant access to the most up-to-date material, pricing, and presentations in order to do their jobs effectively. It’s a difficult thing to do when emails are left sitting unread in inboxes, important updates go missing, or outdated material persists on devices lacking vital updates that should have been pushed out company-wide.

Long-term survivability relies on effective sales and marketing

Making and closing sales is a tough gig. It involves putting your best foot forward. If your teams can’t tell their left from right or, in this case, their latest version from an outdated draft, then you’re setting them up for failure. It’s as simple as that.

As we’ve explored in the past, breakdowns in visibility and communication aren’t uncommon. They can happen anywhere, at any time. Yet it’s often during times of crisis that these issues are thrown into stark relief, affecting visibility and robbing your organisation of control when it needs it the most.

How are you meant to operate with confidence if you can’t be sure whether sales teams have access to the latest messaging and material? Or that your marketing team is making informed decisions without the latest facts or figures?

Now more than ever, effective management of your teams is vital to long-term survival.

Managing your teams, made easy

A group marketing meeting

We’ve learned a lot over the years in managing our own teams here at Stellar. Our greatest successes have always come about when we’ve been able to combine the right people with the right technology in order to ensure they have the clarity, control, and visibility to do their jobs effectively.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • Increase visibility and communication through regular catch-ups, scheduled meetings, and follow-ups. If something isn’t clear? Ask!
  • Clearly label updated revisions so that it’s easy to see at a glance which version is the most current.
  • Regularly “clear house” to ensure outdated documents, information, and marketing material is removed from repositories to avoid any potential for confusion.
  • Avoid splitting communications across multiple, haphazard distribution channels like Dropbox, email, and physical paper copies. The more channels you use, the more likely it is that something will be missed or forgotten.
  • Consolidate your information, instructions, and resources into one easy-to-manage business platform to ensure instant, secure access to everything your teams need no matter where they are or what device they’re using.
Stellar Announces ‘New Zealand Made’ Certification As It Continues To Help Kiwi Businesses Operate In The New Era

Stellar Announces ‘New Zealand Made’ Certification As It Continues To Help Kiwi Businesses Operate In The New Era

Stellar is happy to announce that it is officially ‘New Zealand Made’. The announcement follows approval from ‘Buy New Zealand Made’ which sees the company granted the privilege of displaying the globally recognised logo across its software lineup.

Stellar has been proudly flying the New Zealand flag in the wake of recent global events, as it supports organisations in their efforts to operate normally in an abnormal world. The company has been able to provide this certainty via its secure business platforms which enable boards, managers, and other businesses to quickly and easily transition to a remote working environment. Communications and information are available at the touch of a button via Stellar anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Since its inception in 2011, Stellar has always been a Kiwi company. Every design. Every button. Every line of code. It’s born, bred, and kept right here in New Zealand. That’s why today’s announcement really is about more than just a logo. It’s a sign of Stellar’s continued commitment to supporting New Zealand businesses and in turn their ability to support New Zealanders now and into the future.

About Stellar

Stellar is a secure, intuitive cloud-based information management and distribution platform. Simply and securely access important documents, files, material, and more with complete control over user access and privileges. Gain complete control and visibility across all mission-critical material with instant access anytime, anywhere, on any device with Stellar. It’s ideal for boards, management teams, and more.

To learn more about Stellar please visit: https://www.stellarlibrary.com/why-stellar/