Cybersecurity is more important than ever now that more people are working from home and businesses are adjusting to new operating models. But all too often, it gets pushed down the priority list when the focus is on simply keeping the lights on and revenue coming in the door. Unfortunately, that’s when a business can be at its most vulnerable.

“Working from home is now seen as a honeypot for cyber-criminals”, says Helena Ng, Cisco’s Australia and New Zealand Architecture Lead for Small Business. “Small business owners often think they’re not interesting or a big enough target for hackers. But the attacks are now industrialised and automated, making it easy to target anyone with potential malware or scams”.

This was one of the key insights to come out of the second episode in our Small Business Resiliency podcast series. Hosted by Cisco Australia and New Zealand Head of Small Business and Distribution, Luke Power, and joined once again by small business expert Peter Strong. This installment of the series looks at the reality of the cyber threats facing business owners and how to navigate them.

As CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), Peter knows that business owners don’t often prioritise cybersecurity. But he acknowledges that it’s simply “the modern equivalent of having a lock on your front door and an alarm system in the shop”, and that it can’t be overlooked anymore.

Complex threats, simple solutions

As remote working increases vulnerability, threats such as phishing – where hackers can impersonate staff members in emails including dangerous links – and malware – which can infect a device via a USB or a download – become more prominent.

The good news is that the protections against these types of inconspicuous threats has never been simpler to obtain.

“As a basic requirement, things like a virtual private network (VPN) – where you can effectively secure your work information between a remote site and your office – become very important to ensure you prevent unauthorised access to business resources when you’re working across the open internet”, says Helena.

Multi-factor authentication is another vital measure. This lets you verify a user’s identity beyond just a password, before giving them access to applications or documents.

“We’re regular people, and it’s easy to have devices and passwords exposed out of human folly. But simple protections… can help mitigate this. It’s vital that when choosing any technology tool that security is really built into the fabric of that product.”

Listen to our podcast, Securing Business Information and Reputation below.

Taking the fear (and high costs) out of security

Business owners are becoming more aware of the need to be constantly protected, but according to Peter it’s not just about education. “It’s about having systems in place to protect you from your own vulnerability” says Peter.

At this time of increased exposure, we’re focusing not only on how we can support businesses to help them stay safe and productive, but how to make sure business-grade protection doesn’t cost the earth.

We’ve released a range of offers including extended capacity for existing customers and additional free trials for new customers which are designed to make solutions easy and affordable. This applies to our security solutions like Duo for multi-factor authentication and AnyConnect for setting up secure VPN access, as well as our Umbrella solution, which bundles together multiple security functions into one simple, cloud-based suite.

And to help manage cash flow, easylease offers simple pay-by-the-month options while our new Cisco Capital program lets businesses defer payments up until 2021 to help relieve budget strains and keep businesses productive through this period.

As Helena emphasises, the investments business owners make now can help make work from home the status quo in the future and save your business money in the long run.

Want to hear more from this series? Check out the full Small Business Resiliency series as we explore other critical topics for small business continuity.