The economic and workplace disruption caused by COVID-19 has left SMBs especially vulnerable to cyberattacks. A firm tracking ransomware trends, Coveware, reported the average company size targeted by ransomware was 635 employees in Q1 2020. However, the median company size was only 62 employees, showing how large enterprises pull averages up.
As you reopen your small business, it’s important to understand that your technology is at high risk. Areas for concern include:
- Windows Updates
- Security software and antivirus updates
- Work computers used at home
- Remote desktop protocol
If your PCs have been shut down for months, they do not have security software updates installed to prevent cyber attacks. Due to increasing threats, Microsoft has prioritized security updates over feature ones:
“We have been evaluating the public health situation, and we understand this is impacting our customers. In response to these challenges, we are prioritizing our focus on security updates. Starting in May 2020, we are pausing all optional non-security releases (C and D updates) for all the supported versions of Windows client and server products (Windows 10, version 2004 down to Windows Server 2008 SP2).” – support.microsoft.com
You may be familiar with Microsoft’s monthly quality and feature updates, but there are also daily updates for security intelligence. These automatically download for the Windows Defender Antivirus so it has the most timely data on active threats.
To see if your Windows is up to date, go to Start > Settings (Gear Icon) > Updates and Security or type “Check for updates” in the search bar next to the Start button.
In the Windows Update window, you will see if there are updates available. Click Download and install. Updates can take a few minutes to a couple hours to download and install and a restart will be required to complete the process.
If there are no updates available, make sure your version of Windows is still being supported. Windows 7, XP, and Vista no longer receive updates from Microsoft, making them a major security risk.
To see which Windows you’re running, type “about this PC” into the search bar by the Start button. Under “Windows specification”, you will see your Windows version. The “Edition” should be Windows 8.1, or preferably Windows 10. The most recent Windows version ready for broad deployment is Windows 10, version 1909.
Bringing PCs Back to Work
Due to stay at home orders, your employees have been working from home for a few months. Whether they’re using their personal devices or took a company computer home, these machines should not need updates because they’ve been online. That said, they are still a risk to your cyber security.
When your employees are working from home, there’s a greater risk of contracting worms and trojans. The risk increases because:
- Home wifi networks may have looser passwords.
- High-risk family members could have access.
- Personal web browsing or email accounts could be used for phishing.
If a PC is compromised, it could spread a virus to every device on your business’s network as soon as they’re reconnected.
This is why your employees should perform these cybersecurity checks before getting back online:
- Antivirus threat scan
Your antivirus software will scan the files on your computer and crosscheck them with a database of known malware. You will be able to remove any harmful files.
- Remove non-work related files and apps
While working from home, non-work related files may have accumulated. Since antivirus software isn’t 100% effective, files and apps not required for work could be a risk to your company. Your employees should either remove them or request an IT technician to inspect them.
Remote Desktop Protocol
According to the Coveware report, compromised remote desktop is the primary method of deploying ransomware attacks. If you have employees who prefer to work remotely or your office capacity is restricted and they will be accessing a remote desktop portal, make sure it’s secure. You could be opening the door for cybercriminals.
If you need assistance getting your business back online and secure, click here to schedule a consultation.