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Gabsten Technologies is an established data management consulting company, based in Johannesburg, South Africa

Data management, cybercrime and working from home

Data management, cybercrime and working from home
13 Nov 2020

Staying home, sanitising, seeing your partner 24/7, and multitasking whilst trying to home school children has become the new normal. But so too has working from home, and everyone is online, possibly with less secure connections than required. There has also been a huge uptake of cloud-based services in order to support a mobile workforce. This means that digital transformation has seen rapid growth, but it also means that many (possibly distracted) people are now highly attractive targets for cybercriminals. New vulnerabilities mean new loopholes for these criminals to exploit exposed businesses, and the result has been a dramatic increase in cybercrime. As a result, data management is required to curb these increasing threats.


Lack of awareness means easy pickings

With the need for businesses to rapidly move to a mobile workforce, cloud services are the first port of call. However, the urgency with which these services were taken up means that many organisations failed to take the necessary precautions. Cloud services require an Internet breakout where Internet is provided closer to the user at each site and open Internet connections such as those in most peoples’ homes leave users vulnerable to attack and makes them attractive targets. In order to safeguard users and businesses in a work from home world, data management needs to be prioritised.

In doing so, organisations who have become more vulnerable during lockdown due to staff working remotely will ensure that their data is protected from data loss due to cyber attack or any other threat – even the threat of accidently deleting a document due to a less controlled domestic environment.


Business continuity is key

Although cybercrime has increased, the likelihood of Internet connections also going down increases as more users work from home using the Internet. This is another concern for organisations as most services are now being used in the cloud, which means that users cannot work. With everything online, access to data is imperative. A complete outage or ransomware attack in these times could have greater consequences than ever before, especially for organisations deemed to be essential services. Here, organisations need to look towards their data management strategy and even more importantly focus on ensuring that they have the right Business Continuity (BC) strategy in place, as data management is a key driver of. By making sure that this plan is in place, little to no lapse in daily business operations will occur. However, what many companies fail to realise is that a BC strategy is only as effective as the last time it was properly updated and tested.


Data protection and security

Data protection and security should extend well beyond the office environment right to the edge. It is critical to protect data everywhere it exists, and in the current climate this means it is more important than ever to ensure it is protected on end-point devices. The office security protocols that previously shielded users are no longer  in place and this leads to corporate networks being exposed to many new vulnerabilities. Security needs to be extended to the edge because the majority of people are working from home using an open Internet connection, and this will be the case for the foreseeable future.

It is also critical to have new backup strategies in place to ensure that if data is accidentally deleted or lost, it can be recovered. Data loss is not just the result of a malware attack, it could just as easily happen because a device is damaged, lost or stolen, which is a more likely scenario when people work from home. Data protection therefore needs to move beyond backup and into effective management, including data encryption and remote wiping capabilities.


Recovery is the final piece of the puzzle

Protecting devices and data is only part of the solution – the ability to recover data is also essential. Once again, this relies on effective data management. A data management strategy ensures businesses know where their data is, what it is and how it should be protected. It also helps businesses gain a better understanding of what they can and cannot safely push into the cloud.

While the pandemic has forced businesses to accelerate their digital strategies, acting in haste will result in all manner of difficulties, including leaving organisations vulnerable to cybercrime.  A reactive approach makes it more likely that a business will not be able to recover from an event – without data protection, security, backup and continuity in place, once data is lost, it is gone. Data management offers the assurance that Business Continuity (BC) is in place, that data is secured and can be recovered in the event of any sort of loss.