The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on every industry across the globe, with some reaping benefits of the effects whilst the others have been jumping through hoop after hoop in an attempt to find a feasible and achievable solution that allows them to continue working. In many cases, particularly office work, we have seen remote working helping many businesses overcome the challenge of creating a Covid-secure workplace. By working from their own homes using cloud computing, employees are able to stay safe whilst working in a productive manner. KPMG and the Financial Services Skills Commission found that half of the workers in the finance sector want to work remotely for at least part of their week, with 26% wishing to make remote working a permanent solution. This not only shows a willingness from staff in the industry to work from home, but it also shows a clear desire on their behalf, signifying that this may be their preferred way to work, at least whilst the situation remains as it is. This wide-scale remote working does, however, come with its challenges. 


Cisco estimates that cloud data centres will process 94% of workloads in 2020, showing a clear shift to cloud computing in every sector during the Covid-19 pandemic. The real pain point with cloud computing when moving to a remote working format is that of security – with your workforce placed so sporadically in different locations, how do you manage your security to keep everything safe? Cybersecurity is the tool used to combat this danger, working to prevent, identify, and counteract the dangers posed. Below, we consider the importance of cybersecurity and how it can help you to work remotely during this difficult time.


How Does Remote Working Operate?


Whilst the rush to deploy remote working protocols may have been something of a shock to the system during the first lockdown, it may have served us well in the long run; we now have more experience when it comes to working remotely, with a better understanding of how to tackle the challenges that it poses. During this first lockdown, we saw 46.6% of people working from home: 86% of these cases were as a direct result of the Coronavirus. In addition to this, research also shows that the majority of workers that are working from home are educated and skilled employees as opposed to manual workers and labourers; this is important to bear in mind for the financial sector, as most workers in this field fall into the ‘skilled’ category and will likely be working from their home. If you still haven’t found the perfect way to roll out working from home schemes within your business, don’t feel alone – many businesses are still tinkering and evolving their structure to try to find the right balance. Below, you can find some general rule on how to implement remote working in a simple, straightforward way. 


Implementing Remote Working

Trying to implement remote working effectively is no exact science and the methods used will differ between businesses, but in general, there is a focus on 3 factors. Those factors are:


  1. Hardware: One non-negotiable thing is hardware; if your employees do not have the right equipment, they will not be able to work properly. This will reduce productivity and can lead to poor performance across the board. To combat this, you’ll need to ensure that each employee has hardware that is up to the task at hand – in some circumstances this may mean supplying staff with monitors, computers, printers, keyboards, mouse, and any other equipment that they would need to undertake the tasks expected of them.


  1. Software: Another thing that is crucial when working from home is the software that your staff are using. In the office, workstations are often fully loaded with a range of different software that enable the employee to complete all tasks assigned to them in the most efficient and high-quality manner, but their new remote working setup may not have access to these or may not be able to utilise the software as well as their office computer.


  1. Management: To facilitate and maintain a successful working from home strategy, you need to ensure that you are effectively managing your employees. This goes way beyond the average check-ups and monitoring workflow – you’ll want to make sure that you’re giving each employee the care and attention that they need to keep soldiering on during this difficult time. Keeping in touch during remote working is one of the most important things you can do – regular contact using audio calls, video calls, and messaging services helps everyone to remain connected. Surveys have found that 63% of under 35’s struggle with the absence of the social aspects of being in the office, with 59% finding it hard to stay motivated when working from home.


What Role Does Cyber Security Play in Remote Working?

As a result of the disjointed setup that your workforce finds itself in due to the enforced working from home conditions, security can often find itself compromised. This is a particular issue for those working in sensitive sectors such as finance and accounting. WIth devices removed from their usual networks and monitoring, you must have the right cybersecurity measures in place to combat this heightened risk. 


When connecting to the internet, employees will likely be using their home’s private WiFi network, which is an instant red flag to assess – these networks tend to lack in security when compared to business networks in offices, so they’re more susceptible to attacks and breaches. Another alarming statistic is that 46% of employees admit to using their own personal devices such as laptops, computers, and tablets to access work files and platforms; by using a personal device for work, any viruses or malware that’s present on the device will be able to cause serious damage to your business if left without targeted cybersecurity measures.


Cyber attack trends are showing a huge upturn in recent months, with financial services being the industry with the highest percentage of sensitive files exposed at 21%. This averages out to around 350,000 exposed files containing sensitive data – it’s clear that the damage could be incredibly severe should this trend continue. It has also been seen that around 10% of all breaches are related to the financial sector, further demonstrating the specific targeting that this industry is receiving from cyber attackers. 


Implementing the correct security measures when working from home will limit the damage that can be done during successful attacks, but will also reduce the probability of your business being susceptible to attacks in the first instance. By doing this, you’re protecting yourself again both the attack and the impact of the attack before it even happens. 


Below, you can find a few guidelines that should be part of your remote working guidelines for employees:


  • Strong passwords: with stronger passwords, you are less likely to face physical breaches, which can be devastating when actioned correctly. 
  • Multi-factor authentication: by following an authentication process that requires multiple steps, you’re able to further verify the identity of the entity that is requesting access
  • Using business devices if at all possible: it is estimated that just 50.2% of people are using a company device when working from home – employees that work using their personal devices heighten the chances of cyberattacks massively. 
  • Use a VPN: Using a VPN encrypts connections at both ends, protecting all data that is transferred on this network.
  • Keep devices and software updated: software and hardware updates often include security enhancements, so keeping up to date ensures that you are as protected as possible in this regard.
  • Stay alert to phishing attempts: with the format and techniques used differing constantly, it’s important that you are able to spot threats before they become an issue. 
  • Remind employees to be vigilant and aware of the threats they face: most cyberattacks faced by businesses are as a direct result of individual targeting – if staff are aware of the dangers and educated on how to spot these threats, they’re able to reduce the susceptibility of the business.


In Conclusion

It’s easy to see that remote working leaves us facing a higher level of cyber threat than ever before and that the finance and accounting sectors are particularly at risk due to the concentrated attacks and sensitive data that they deal with. This is evidenced by research that shows 71% of cyber attacks to be financially motivated. In the midst of this, cybersecurity must be a priority for your business if remote working is something that you cannot afford to go without. 


The finance sector is one that is constantly evolving and growing, so working from home will likely continue in the coming year to combat the impact that Coronavirus has had on our working arrangements. With this pivotal demand placed on remote working, cybersecurity needs to be up to the task; one successful attack could be disastrous for any business in the finance industry.


Enterprise-level cybersecurity is the most comprehensive and effective coverage that you can find in the current market, offering specialised protection that’s tailored to the struggles currently faced by businesses. With plans available to suit any business’ requirements, size, or structure, you must invest in systems, platforms, and hardware that keep your employees and your business protected from cyber attacks.