Safer Internet Day 2023: It’s a dangerous business, going online

This year, February 7th marks the 20th Safer Internet Day – an awareness campaign that aims to shine a light on emerging online issues and safety concerns. Though the day’s primary focus is to educate young people on the latest internet safety practices, the continued rise in cyber crime means we could all use a reminder on how to keep ourselves, and our organisations, safe.

As Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK, points out: “Everyone has a part to play in using the internet – and the limitless resources it offers – in a responsible and safe manner. This extends from the cautious home PC user through to the largest global organisations, set with the challenge of ensuring internet safety practices at work for hundreds of employees.”

He continues, “Security threats are evolving all the time and this is something that should be at the top of the daily agenda for the majority of businesses – for many, this includes a responsibility to safeguard data and internet use for their customers. No business can afford to take its foot off the pedal; ransomware attacks, data breaches and emerging threats are rife and even businesses with big security budgets are not impervious to threats.”

So how can users stay safe online?

Don’t cut corners

Given the current economic climate, it is easy to consider cutting down on cyber security budgets. However, as Hugh Scantlebury, CEO and Founder of Aqilla, outlines, this can end up costing you more in the long run.

“With the threat landscape expected to keep growing in 2023, Safer Internet Day comes as a needed reminder about the dangers that loom online,” he explains. “In the face of increased costs of doing business, many may be looking to cut back on their cybersecurity measures in order to reduce costs. But, lack of investment in cybersecurity is a false economy. Recovering from a cyber attack will far outweigh the financial costs of implementing and maintaining solutions.”

Instead, companies should consider investing in one of their greatest cyber security defences; their employees. “Even the most simple steps can have a huge impact in staying safe online,” Scantlebury continues. “It is really important to educate your workforce and associated stakeholders in maintaining vigilant behaviour that minimises risk, such as not opening any emails, links or attachments that come from unknown or untrusted sources, no matter how curious or of interest they might appear. It should be the responsibility of everyone in an organisation to understand how to isolate content for safe bona fide review.”

Implement the right solutions

Aside from training employees, organisations can also ensure that they are protected online by utilising the right technology and backup solutions – especially in cloud environments. As Leasweb’s Storrar outlines: “Given that many companies have migrated at least some parts of their business to the cloud, and are operating their IT infrastructure in a very different way to a few years ago, there is a major focus on protecting business assets and customer data in private, hybrid and multi cloud environments. The consensus is now that hosting apps or storing files in the cloud is just as robust as other options.”

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Furthermore,  keeping up to date with the latest technology can benefit organisations.  “The key to safeguarding data and ensuring secure internet use is to put multi-levels of protection in place to suit your business needs – and this will in turn deliver peace of mind to customers,” Storrar explains. “It is important to keep up to date with the latest security developments – in fact, as many as 60% of businesses in the UK are choosing to outsource their IT security to an external provider rather than keep this in-house to make use of expertise and extensive resources.”

Not only is it important to protect data in the first place, but organisations also need to ensure that they have a strong backup and recovery strategy in place. As Aqilla’s Scantlebury emphasises, “using business solutions, like Aqilla, will provide that extra layer of protection as they feature data audit capabilities that record any and all changes to key business data in order to further mitigate risk. In addition, check whether disaster recovery and automated backup are taking place (and with what frequency) within your SaaS environments. That way, if all else fails and the worst does happen, you can quickly recover your data. This is essential as a quick recovery means you’ll get back to regular business without any serious financial implications and without impacting customer service.”

Protect your employees – even when they are working remotely

The safety responsibilities of an organisation go beyond the confines of its internal network and office space. Modern companies need to also ensure that they have the infrastructure in place to protect employees working from home.

As Audun Fosselie Hansen, Co-founder and CEO at Celerway states, “connectivity requirements for frontline and field professionals have boomed in recent years, with workers demanding access to increasingly advanced applications. Configuring and deploying large numbers of routers remotely can present challenges and it’s not uncommon for staff to rely on their personal mobile phone connections and unsecure public Wi-Fi networks.”

It is therefore vital for organisations to extend their protection to all employees no matter where they are based. As Fosselie Hansen suggests, “IT teams should look across their broader cohort of remote workers to ensure they have access to the same standard of connectivity as their site-based and home-based colleagues. Providing seamless, high-performance connectivity is often the focus, however any remote connectivity scenario must ensure the network keeps customer and corporate data secure by prioritising a foundational Zero Trust approach to network security.”

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