COVID-19 has forced many businesses to have their employees work remotely. Most employers were not prepared for such dramatic changes to daily business operations and have adopted to the crisis situation on the fly.
Having employees work remotely has resulted in more vulnerable targets for cyber criminals. This is in part due to not having immediate access to colleagues to discuss online security threats. Many employees are also accessing company data on unsecured networks, and many may not be up to speed in employing best practices to protect company data and networks. This is not just something that happens in small businesses. Law firms, banks, and investment firms have been targeted with alarming success. This is indicative of businesses, small and large, not practicing safe online habits to protect company data.
One of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to infiltrate a company network and access data, hold it hostage, or even worse, facilitate the transfer of money out of the company, is by email. Many unsuspecting employees open an email, click a link, and by virtue of just those simple actions, allow the hacker to do what they want with the company’s data. A lot of the emails are cleverly disguised to fool even the most cautious.
Some general guidelines we adopt as a law firm to protect our firm and client information are:
- Use a virtual private network when accessing firm network remotely.
- Approach emails from unknown or unexpected sources cautiously.
- Contact the sender of the email if there are any concerns about the email to confirm the sender did in fact send it. This applies particularly to internal emails with unusual instructions. Law firms and more recently, investment firms, have fallen victim to these internal email hacks, resulting in the transfer of trust funds to the hackers.
- If the email invites you to click a link, you can move your cursor over the link without clicking it. A popup window, or an address at the bottom of the page should come up and show you where it would take you if clicked. If the address is unfamiliar or strange, then do not click it. Clicking these links could result in malicious software being downloaded onto your computer.
These guidelines are not just for law firms. They can be adopted to any business with company data on computers and networks. By maintaining good online security habits during this crisis and after, you and your employees minimize the potential for unwanted intrusion into your business.
FH&P Lawyers LLP Welcomes Tanvir Gill to the Firm
Originally from Surrey, B.C. Tanvir obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University before attending law school at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. She obtained her law degree in 2018 and completed her articles with a local firm. Tanvir was called to the Bar in 2019 and joined FH&P as an associate in July 2020. Tanvir is building a practice with a focus on residential and commercial real estate, business law and wills and estates. She is fluent in both Punjabi and Hindi. Outside of the office, Tanvir enjoys taking advantage of all that the Okanagan Valley has to offer, whether that means visiting her favourite wineries, paddle boarding or snowboarding at Big White in the winters.
DON’T JUST CLOSE YOUR DOORS (Part 3): Options for Financing
This is Part 3 of a three-part series entitled “Don’t Just Close Your Doors” in which we provide options for business owners struggling with the effects of the shutdowns and who see no option other than shutting down. In previous articles, I urge business owners not to focus on the current cashflow of the business (which is likely not great, given the state of the economy) and focus instead on the sources of potential value in their business – client lists, location, intellectual property, existing contracts, and business systems.
DON’T JUST CLOSE YOUR DOORS: Finding a Buyer (PART 2)
This is Part 2 of a three-part series entitled “Don’t Just Close Your Doors” in which we provide options for business owners who see no option other than shutting down. In the previous article, I urge business owners not to focus on the current cashflow of the business (which is likely not great, given the state of the economy) and focus instead on the sources of potential value in their business – client lists, location, intellectual property, existing contracts, and business systems. Rather than shutting their doors, we hope to encourage business owners to realize that potential value, and consider selling all, or a part, of their business to benefit from the value they have created.