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Keeping your information secure during COVID-19 lockdown

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Privacy and security challenges are side effects of this pandemic that businesses and individuals must address.

The immediate concern of protecting health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in individuals working remotely and businesses temporarily shutting their doors. This rapid response has saved lives, but there are a number of side effects from this, many of which affect information security for both individuals and businesses. With approximately £2 million having already been lost to coronavirus-related scams across the UK since the outbreak began, we have highlighted areas of vulnerability that may need addressing and ways Advanced Sweeping and our bug sweeping experts can help.

Physical Security

Many companies have been forced to scale back on operations or employees during this time and although less people may seem like less risk, that is not necessarily the case. Company offices may be left mostly empty with a skeleton crew. Employees, cleaners and other staff could be left largely unsupervised and this creates the perfect opportunity for an adversary to breach security and gain access to sensitive information.

Security staff may also be an area affected by manpower cuts. This means fewer guards, fewer patrols and could result in vulnerabilities being overlooked, such as a door left ajar or an employee in an unauthorised area, especially those such as private meeting rooms or boardrooms. These types of breaches should be recognised as serious concerns as they can all result in the installation of electronic bugs in an office, such as a listening device or surveillance camera, waiting to be used in the future when business gets back to normal. Technical surveillance counter measure (TSCM) sweeps, commonly known as technical security sweeps or bug sweeps are essential after a period of shutdown to ensure businesses have not been compromised.

Data Security  

With many people working remotely, data security is one of the most prominent concerns and it seems many criminals are looking to take advantage of this situation. Their main aims could be to access sensitive data such as account details, get into your corporate network now or when the user returns to the office and connects to the network, or simply to scam unsuspecting individuals into giving money.

Action Fraud has received over 678 reports of scams across England, Wales and Northern Ireland during the pandemic, with total losses so far being in excess of £1.8 million. Many are emails with fake links that either harvest the user’s data or download malware.

There has been an increase in attacks targeting businesses too, where businesses have responded to emails pretending to relate to the government’s new grant scheme.  The result of this could be an extensive data breach, stolen money or downloaded malware.

What you can do to protect your business

When returning to your offices, pay close attention to anything that has been disturbed or anything that may have been tampered with. Any indication of unauthorised access to offices or secure areas should be investigated thoroughly. Electronic TSCM sweeps of critical offices and confidential areas should be scheduled to ensure they remain secure. At Advanced Sweeping, following a TSCM or bug sweep, we provide a comprehensive TSCM report outlining our findings as well as any vulnerabilities we may find in your physical or electronic security protocols.

What you can do to protect yourself from scams?

What can you do to make sure your data isn’t stolen or leaked? Here are some tips from our cybersecurity experts:

Beware of phishing scams – Don’t open questionable emails or click on links in those emails, even if they look like they’ve come from a trusted source.

Ensure a website begins with ‘https’ – When a website begins with https, the session between the web server and the browser on the device you are using is encrypted.  It allows you to communicate securely with the web server. This is especially important on pages where you are making payments or entering sensitive information.

When purchasing online, ensure the website is trusted – If you see an icon with the words ‘Secure’ or ‘Verified’, it’s likely to be a trust seal. A trust seal indicates that the website works with a security partner. If a trust seal is legitimate, clicking on it will take you to a page that verifies the authenticity of that seal.

Be wary of ‘too good to be true’ offers – At a time when many people are looking to alternative ways to make money, scams are running rife. Be alert to the warning signs like being contacted out of the blue, promises of low risk and/or guaranteed above market returns as well as time pressure when making a decision.

What we can do to help

We are here to help! If you believe your phone, computer or property may have been compromised or you want an office sweep or boardroom sweep maybe even a peace of mind check in the meeting room, contact Advanced Sweeping on 03450 343 945 and speak to one of our specialists.

 

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