Accounting and payroll software company MYOB, is urging business owners to take cyber security seriously when moving to new operating models, including working from home.

Local businesses, especially small and medium sized enterprises, will need to focus on security if they are to successfully and safely change their operating model in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

With working from home programmes becoming increasing prevalent to reduce the spread of COVID-19, MYOB says cybersecurity will be a key risk to be addressed by SMEs implementing this model.

MYOB NZ Country Manager Ingrid Cronin-Knight says in the face of the rapidly evolving situation, which has sent shockwaves through the global economy, local businesses need clear guidelines on how to protect themselves through this time of upheaval.

“As we’ve watched countries across Europe effectively lock down their economies, it is becoming increasingly clear that businesses will be looking for ways to keep their operations running, and we should be providing support to enable them to do so,” says Ingrid Cronin-Knight.

“Most SME’s will not have experienced a disruption to their business of this magnitude, and while technology has enabled more flexibility to connect in a virtual environment, many businesses will not have the knowledge or capability to implement such a significant change quickly and safely.”

“Alongside the technical challenges of scaling up their work from home operation, are the risks – potentially very large – of securing these businesses against cyberattack.”

Ingrid Cronin-Knight

Ingrid Cronin-Knight, Country Manager, MYOB NZ.

Ms Cronin-Knight says security experts are warning about the risks of large scale moves to remote working, as cyber criminals seek to exploit the opportunity of more businesses moving online.

According to the MYOB Business Monitor survey of 1,000 New Zealand SMEs, almost a third (29%) of businesses have been the victim of a cyber security breach in the form of malware, online scam, hack, phishing or ransomware attack.

There are several actions that SMEs can take to protect themselves online including updating all software with the latest security upgrades and patches, installing and updating firewalls on home services and using technology to enable password protection, such as 2-Factor Authentication (2FA).

In addition, it is important to educate other home users – such as children – on the risks of scams, malware and phishing attacks that could infect devices.

It is also important to protect business communications by using a VPN or another secure communication method when connecting to your business over Public WiFi services.

Ms Cronin-Knight said: “We urge businesses to consider the key security and continuity risks they may face in managing a rapid transition to a work from home operation”

MYOB’s key security recommendations for SMEs working from home:

1. Update all software and operating systems with the latest security updates and patches.

2. Make sure firewall technologies are installed and configured appropriately on systems used at home.

3. Keep all endpoint protection services, such as anti-virus and anti-malware software enabled and updated.

4. Ensure routers and other telecommunications equipment don’t use default passwords and credentials.

5. Use multi-factor authentication (2FA) for all remotely accessible services and systems where possible (2FA creates additional security by requiring a one-use code generated by an authorisation app).

6. Update filtering for spam and malware on email systems.

7. Ensure backups are in place on all key systems and data.

8. Don’t store customer data without adequate security.

9. Keep staff informed of all incident response procedures as they apply to remote working.

10. Ensure that administrators or privileged users are aware & follow all security processes and procedures.

11. Provide adequate security awareness training regarding staying safe at home.