Remote working and cyber security – advice for small businesses

In the space of a few weeks, the world has changed to new ways of working and you may be worried, on top of everything else, that the actions you were taking to keep your computers and mobile devices secure are no longer effective for remote working. You can use the following checklist to take some simple, low-cost steps to protect your business, regardless of whether you are using a business laptop or smartphone, or your own personal device. While cyber security can never be guaranteed, these steps will significantly reduce the risk of an incident. 

  • Do you have a backup of critical data?
  • Are you and your staff aware that if you receive any unusual or suspicious emails or calls, you should either delete them or verify their authenticity by phone or other means before proceeding?
  • Is anti-virus installed and the firewall enabled on all computers? 
  • Is a PIN, password or other authentication method (such as fingerprint) set on all devices, whether they belong to the business or to you personally?
    • Is any PIN or password hard to guess?
  • Is the software on your computers and mobile devices up to date (most provide an option to check and install updates automatically)? 
  • Are any laptops or storage devices which hold sensitive information encrypted? 
  • Are any printouts containing confidential information disposed of securely, for example by shredding?
  • Do you (or your staff) use Wi-Fi at home? If so
    • Is the network using “WPA2” or “WPA3” security?
    • Is the Wi-Fi password hard to guess?
    • Is the router firewall enabled?
  • Are staff instructed that work devices are for professional use only and must be locked when not in use?
  • Are video and audio conferences password-protected, with a unique password for each meeting?

If you’re unsure how to do any of this, you can find guidance by searching online. The quick start guides at the National Centre for Cyber Security and the Information Commissioner’s Office website are good sources of reliable advice on remote working and cyber security.