Think about everything you’re doing to keep your sales reps safe right now. Social distancing, remote work, security, better sick leave, whatever it may be.

Now think about what you’re doing to keep your data safe. Your customer details. Your company information. Your sales results. Even your team’s knowledge. 

Cybersecurity might not top your to-do list with so much going on, but it’s time to bump it up the ranks because, thanks to COVID-19, there’s a perfect storm brewing when it comes to keeping data secure:

  • There’s a recent surge in cybercrime – governments around the world are warning citizens and businesses about an increasing number of scams and attacks.
  • Many of us are forced to adjust very quickly to a new way of working, which often means relying heavily on online platforms.
  • More people are working from unsecured home networks, sometimes using personal computers and devices to connect into work systems.
  • We’re also distracted and under pressure, focusing on staying healthy, connected, and productive.
  • A lot of information is flying around about COVID-19 – and some of it is not just misleading, but also fraudulent or malicious.

Most data breaches that make the news happen to really big companies, like Equifax, Facebook, and Target. But an estimated 43% of all breaches happen at small companies – and cost an average of $200,000 per case. A full 60% of businesses shut down within six months of becoming a victim.

Sales teams are especially at risk. Sales reps are juicy targets for email abuse, browser attacks, social engineering, and more, simply because it’s their job to talk to a lot of people they don’t know well, and they have access to a lot of valuable information. And it just takes one employee, one click, one mistake to compromise your business and your customers.

Realistically, you can’t fix every problem and plug every hole. But you can take steps to keep our employees, companies, and customers safe – and weather the storm together.

Keeping sales teams safe

When it comes to things like VPNs, firewalls, and portals, we’ll leave it to the IT experts. But there are still lots of simple ways individual employees and teams can do to make sure your company’s data stays safe.

Watch what you click

Phishing emails (and increasingly, messages via SMS and WhatsApp) are among the most common ways that hackers break into company systems. And they’re not always obvious. They often look like official messages from organizations like the World Health Organization, or even from colleagues, vendors, leads, prospects, or customers.

Before you click on any link in any email or open any attachment:

  • Check the sender’s email address. It’s not fool-proof – sender information can be spoofed – but it’s a good first step.
  • Check the URL of any website before you visit. If a link points anywhere except the official domain, it’s suspicious. Even if the landing page looks legit.
  • Don’t open attachments you aren’t expecting or didn’t directly ask for. It may look like an innocent spreadsheet or an image, but it could actually contain malware.
  • Don’t install software or apps you don’t need. Be especially vigilant if you’re mixing your personal devices with work – that live COVID-19 tracker you installed could be bad news.
  • Don’t provide personal information unless you’ve done your due diligence and you understand why the sender needs it. (And obviously, never give out your username and password information.)

If things still smell fishy, send a quick note to the person or organization who sent the message and verify it’s real. And don’t just hit “reply” – open up a new email or message and use contact information you find yourself. 

Approaching things with a healthy dose of skepticism is admittedly a bit inconvenient, but not nearly as inconvenient (or destructive) as getting things wrong!

Keep your stuff up-to-date

Some software updates might get rolled out from IT. Others need your reps to click the “ok” button. Either way, you’ll want to make sure your team is using the latest versions of the tools you use to reduce the likelihood of bad actors breaking in through security holes or known vulnerabilities. 

This goes for your backups, too. Performing regular backups of your data and housing them in a secure location can help protect you against a ransomware attack that locks you out of your main systems. 

Secure your home Wi-Fi

If your team is working remotely right now, they’re probably using their personal Wi-Fi setup to log into your office systems. But those signals go beyond the confines of their four walls – and it’s an excellent backdoor into your company information.

You can protect against this by:

  • Locking your network with a WPA key. This is an encrypted password that helps control access to your network. Ideally, it should be a passphrase or a long, random string of characters to make it difficult to crack.
  • Hiding the name of your wireless network (aka your SSID) so it doesn’t broadcast to others. It’ll make your network harder to find for outsiders, while still allowing you to connect.
  • Using MAC authentication. Basically, each device you own has its own unique identifier. You can set up your home network to allow only specific devices to connect using those identifiers.

Never log into other access points, even if they look official. You don’t have control over them, and you don’t know how they’re configured – or logging your activity.

Pick your tools carefully

The sudden switch to remote has left many teams scrambling to find tools to stay connected and productive. But we’re also learning that some of those tools aren’t as dependable as we hoped. The FBI, for example, issued a warning about video conferencing software – back in March, as reports of strangers dropping in on calls began to rise.

This is why privacy and security are part of Kiite’s DNA. All of our security, availability, and confidentiality controls have been third-party audited and adhere to internationally recognized standards… and we never hold your data hostage. Your information is 100% encrypted and 100% yours. 

Before you bring on a new tool, whether it’s for video conferencing or sales enablement, flip through the reviews, read the privacy policies (yeah, we know), check for reports of security vulnerabilities, and have a chat with your IT experts. 

It takes a village

In the end, good security comes down to good training… or even a good playbook that outlines your processes, policies, and best practices. After all, it’s not just your information that’s at stake. It’s the data of your customers, your vendors, and your partners, too. And it takes all of us working together to keep ourselves – and our businesses – healthy and safe.

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