Covid-19 has very quickly changed the way that many businesses operate. This evolution started several years ago with the introduction of “cloud technologies” but Covid-19 dramatically accelerated that change.
Before writing this blog, I took the opportunity to look back over several infrastructural proposals I wrote in 2013. Most of these proposals had one thing in common – all business data was held centrally behind a firewall. At the time, remote working was limited to Terminal Server access or a VPN, both of which didn’t lend themselves to streamlined remote working for small businesses. Cyber Security at the time was limited to this firewall and a good anti-virus solution.
Roll forwards a few years and we started to see data being held outside the traditional office environment within Microsoft Office 365. At this point it was only email, but it was many SMEs first venture into the “cloud”. It was still normal for businesses to access their cloud-hosted emails through the normal office computer, so they were still reliant on the traditional firewall and anti-virus for protection.
Backup, disaster recovery and business continuity always had an offsite element, but this was often a very manual process and involved taking tapes home. Cloud backup options started to appear but these were often slow to recover from and required you to have a good internet connection. These were the first examples of businesses, on mass, sending their business data offsite into the cloud.
The real growth in offsite “cloud” backups came when ransomware reared its ugly head. Any business could easily be fully encrypted when falling for “CryptoLocker” so having a robust backup, disaster recovery and business continuity solution became the next line of defence in Cyber Security. It was still easy for these ransomwares to get in the front door, so recovering was an important shift in focus.
As more and more data started to move into the cloud and internet connections got better, it really shifted the Cyber Security focus to ensuring our laptops and desktops were well protected when outside of the office environment. We saw a big jump forward in the number of protections businesses could use to secure these devices. An excellent example was the shift in the way anti-virus tools worked.
Traditionally, they needed to get updates from a server and could spend hours scanning your machine thus slowing you down. This evolved into “cloud” updates so any device, whenever it was connected to the internet, would be automatically updated to protect against the latest threats and rather than scanning files/folders, anti-virus solutions started to look at suspicious behaviours meaning you weren’t sat there for hours with your laptops running slowly.
Many businesses are now fully in the “cloud” with nothing stored behind a traditional firewall. The level of protection which can be put in place has made it very challenging for threat actors to penetrate, which is why we have seen a large shift in their approach – especially in the last few years.
The weakest part of any business is now the people who work for it. Hackers are not likely to break into a Microsoft datacenter, but they can trick people into giving out their username and password in a phishing attack. Cyber Security Training is now the most important thing a business can do to protect itself, its team, and its customers along with having multi-factor authentication in place for every “cloud” application they have; but even that is fallible when someone still clicks the “approve” button which pops up on their phone unannounced.