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The “New Normal” – Keeping Your Tech Secure in the Age of COVID-19

By July 29, 2020 No Comments
2020 has rocked our economy. Unemployment has skyrocketed, travel and tourism has been decimated, and people are more conscious about where their money goes. It is clearly not business as usual. As local and state governments reinstate Stay at Home orders put in place to slow down and hopefully prevent the spread of COVID-19, there are steps that can be taken to transition your business into our “new normal.”
Now is the time to maintain and strengthen your reputation, and Cerrell is committed to sharing our best practices for tailoring your public relations and public affairs strategies to the current climate.

PART 2: SECURING YOUR TECH

Oftentimes, the best form of crisis management is making sure there isn’t a crisis to manage in the first place. In this unprecedented era of COVID-19, preventing certain crises, such as leaks or data breaches, is particularly challenging, as our work has moved more and more into the virtual space. Sensitive information, like personnel files or confidential documents, that would typically be shared in person or stored in locked filing drawers in an office is now solely disbursed electronically, through emails or video conferencing. Unfortunately, hackers and other malicious actors are all too aware of these technological side effects of the pandemic.

No one is immune from these threats. Cerrell recently helped a client with a security breach where sensitive information was leaked. Our team quickly launched a crisis program, working around the clock to strategize for internal and external messaging as well as media engagement. As with every breach, some public trust was inevitably lost, and our communications acknowledged this while emphasizing the steps our client was taking to ensure tighter security.

Now more than ever, companies that handle sensitive information need to ensure it is stored and shared using secure methods. Not only is technological security critical to preventing the leak or loss of confidential data, it also helps establish client trust and retention and protects your brand, an especially key factor during these unprecedented times.

Phishing

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, phishing attempts are more prevalent than ever. According to researchers from the Barracuda Network, in March 2020 there was a 667 percent increase in phishing emails using the coronavirus to trick individuals into clicking links or downloading attachments that included computer viruses, such as ransomware that lock up computers and demands a ransom to unencrypt them.”

The best way to protect yourself from phishing attempts is to only open emails sent to you by trusted email addresses. In addition, you should refrain from clicking on links or downloading files sent by email. Instead, go directly to the website you are interested in, or contact its customer service department.

2FA

As previously mentioned, information sent through text messages is very vulnerable to security breaches. For this reason, it’s critical to refrain from discussing work-related matters or confidential information via texts. A better alternative to texting is the app Slack, a messaging platform that allows you to create channels to talk with multiple people at once, or direct message individuals to have private conversations. For those looking for end-to-end encryption, some of the best and most popular options are Wickr, which lauds itself as the “most secure & private collaboration platform,” and Signal.

Messaging

As previously mentioned, information sent through text messages is very vulnerable to security breaches. For this reason, it’s critical to refrain from discussing work-related matters or confidential information via texts. A better alternative to texting is the app Slack, a messaging platform that allows you to create channels to talk with multiple people at once, or direct message individuals to have private conversations. For those looking for end-to-end encryption, some of the best and most popular options are Wickr, which lauds itself as the “most secure & private collaboration platform,” and Signal.

Video Conferencing

One of the biggest changes that comes with remote working is the switch from in-person meetings to video conferencing. Most offices and businesses use Zoom for such calls. In fact, between December 2019 and March 2020, daily Zoom users erupted from 10 million to 200 million. However, the incredible surge has also made the platform a target for hackers, which has exposed its gaping security flaws.

To address this, Zoom has announced that it will be rolling out end-to-end encryption to both free and paid users starting with a beta in July 2020. For those still hesitant to use Zoom, FaceTime offers end-to-end encryption for Apple users, and the aforementioned Signal app offers end-to-end encrypted video conferencing as well.

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Now is the time to maintain and strengthen your reputation by tailoring your public relations and public affairs strategies to the current climate. Cerrell is committed to sharing our best practices when it comes to handling our clients’ needs.

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