COVID-19’s Impact On Data And Network Security

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of change, including to the digital world. Businesses had to pack up overnight and send their employees to work from home, some for the first time. This caused what some call a new “Cyber Pandemic” as networks were at a greater risk of cyber attacks because their data and network security was not sophisticated enough for the transition to remote working.

 

This blog explores the impact COVID-19 has had on data and network security and will cover:

  • What data and network security is
  • What the different types of network are
  • The benefits of network security
  • How the pandemic has changed network security and how we use it
  • How data and network security can protect a remote workforce

What is data and network security?

Data and network security is anything designed to protect the usability and integrity of your network and data. This can be both hardware and software technologies as long as it prevents threats to your network, whether it’s stopping them from entering or spreading on your network. Your data and network are vital to your business, so it’s important to focus on keeping it secure.

Data and network security combines multiple layers of defences, whether it’s just at the edge or deep within your network. Each layer is designed to implement policies and controls, allow resource access for authorised users and block attacks and any malicious actors from carrying out exploits and threats.

How we live and work has changed beyond recognition thanks to the pandemic so it’s vital for all businesses to have sophisticated and reliable data and network security in place. Not only does it protect your data, network and any private and sensitive information, but it also protects your reputation and business success.

Types of network security

We already know that data and network security refers to the countermeasures put in place to protect a business from cybercrime and below are the different types that you may not be aware of, including software, hardware and cloud services.

Firewalls

Firewalls put a barrier between your network and any threats from the internet. Using a set of rules to determine what counts as a threat or not, a firewall is designed to allow or block traffic depending on whether it fits the criteria set out to define if it is safe.

Anti-virus and anti-malware software

Viruses and malware (malicious software) can corrupt your network via the following:

  • Trojans
  • Worms
  • Ransomware
  • Spyware
  • Viruses

It is important to prevent malware from entering your network because once it has managed to get in, it can lie dormant for long periods of time before attacking, or remain hidden and create damage without your knowledge. A good form of anti-malware software will continually scan to ensure that nothing has managed to slip past.

Access control

Network access control (NAC) restricts people who have access to your network. Using the user ID and device a person is on, access control recognises those with the authorisation to access your network and allows only those people to access it. To prevent any potential threats, those who don’t fit within these recognised brackets either have limited or no access to the network.

Email security

Email gateways are one of the most common ways people are targeted. Attacks have become more sophisticated with phishing campaigns that are designed to deceive people into thinking they are reading an email from a trusted sender. However, the email directs readers to a site serving up malware and can lead to loss of personal information.

Email security blocks incoming emails that seem suspicious and monitors outbound messages for potential loss of sensitive data.

Behavioural analytics

Behavioural analytics notice patterns in activity on your network, perceive this as the norm and then look for any deviations, as this indicates a potential threat.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN encrypts the connection between the endpoint and your network. This means it can stop people from gaining access to your connection, therefore, keeping all the information to transmit and receive secure.

Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)

These systems actively scan incoming network traffic to block harmful activity as it arrives. Not only does it block this traffic, but it also follows the route of any suspicious files or malware on the network to prevent them spreading.

Network segmentation

As the name suggests, this form of network security separates network traffic into different classifications. This makes it easier to assign access rights to each segment of the network, such as role or location, so that suspicious devices or IDs can’t get access to the network.

Benefits of data and network security

For today’s business, digitisation is no longer an option or competitive advantage, it’s a necessity. As more and more businesses adopt digital transformation, the security of a digital infrastructure should be at the top of everyone’s list. However, there are some added benefits to this, which are explained below.

  • Builds trust – knowing that the network you are on is safe builds trust between staff, clients and consumers. People want to know their sensitive data is protected and having data and network security also protects your business if there was a security breach.
  • Mitigates risk – the risk of a data breach and financial loss significantly reduces when you have good network security. Without it, you are leaving yourself vulnerable and exposed to cyberattacks, and you may be breaking government regulations.
  • Protects information – people’s sensitive information is precious, so it’s your duty to protect it for the sake of your business, staff and customers. Network security is the way to protect this information, allowing people to share data confidently and confidentially.
  • Enables a modern workforce – many businesses will continue to operate a remote workforce long after the restrictions of the pandemic are lifted. This allows for a more modern workforce, with employees given the freedom to work from anywhere.

How has COVID-19 changed data and network security and how we use it?

COVID-19 has significantly changed the way we use data and network security. As more people work from home, the world of business shifted to become almost exclusively online, making cybersecurity one of the biggest concerns.

Businesses may not have been fully prepared for this sudden change and attackers have been using this to their advantage. According to Deloitte, almost half (47%) of people fell for email phishing scams when working remotely, and more than half a million business video calls were hacked last year.

Meetings that previously would have been held in person moved to virtual rooms that were then at risk to anyone on the internet looking to carry out a cyberattack. This was made easier to do due to COVID-19 as many employees from smaller businesses began using their personal devices and mobile devices to work from home. When handling business information and data from a personal device, there is an increased risk of cyberattacks as there are fewer anti-virus scans in place.

Working from home can also increase human error. Phishing scams become more effective as people potentially part with sensitive information to the wrong people. Many attackers would use content related to the pandemic in their scams, particularly at the start of COVID-19, to hook more people in.

As scary as this is, it’s forced a change for greater data and network security that can only be a good thing. Wireless networks are safer than they ever were as a result of the pandemic. Companies have taken extra security measures that they may have not bothered to implement if the pandemic and subsequent remote working hadn’t become a thing.

How can data and network security protect a remote workforce?

Data and network security or investing in IT networking services is the key to protecting your workforce, especially if it is now remote due to the global pandemic.

Having data and network security in place can prevent:

  • Remote workers from receiving viruses and malware on their devices
  • Workers falling for phishing scams
  • Important information getting into the wrong hands

Getting remote workers to install network security software such as anti-virus and anti-malware systems on their devices means that employees can continue working remotely on any device as the network is protected from attacks.

It also allows for virtual meetings to continue without any risk to information, protecting staff who now rely on virtual meetings in place of the ones they would have had face-to-face.

Ensuring everyone working remotely has network security measures in place means that data on the internal network is safe and therefore the workforce and business are protected.

If you are unsure what your risk exposure is, you can get a free network security audit to check or you can receive further guidance by downloading our physical security ebook.

Conclusion

COVID-19 has shaped the future of data and network security for the better, making more businesses aware of its importance and forcing them to implement it. The increased risk to networks as a result of the pandemic has only increased network security as businesses combatted the threats with cyber and data security solutions.

Ultimately, this makes staff safer overall and more productive when using the internet and people can work remotely in confidence that all information is secure.

The team at C>Ways hopes you found this blog useful, but if you have any questions or need further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing sales@cways.co.uk or calling our head office at 0333 344 8971 or our London office at 0203 475 8555. We hope to hear from you soon!