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As businesses across the country operate from home, it’s never been more important to make sure that your business is protected from cybercrime, as Kevin Hodgetts explains.


The vast majority of you will be reading this from home. I’m writing it at home. Homeworking is hardly new, but the scale and extent of what we’re going through most certainly is.

While businesses are asking a lot of the right questions about the logistics of their entire workforce decamping to their own living space, there are some potential dangers that may not have been given quite the same amount of attention.


Opportunistic cybercrime

Unfortunately, during difficult times, although there are shining examples of the very best of humanity, there are also examples of less salubrious behaviour. Criminals still commit crimes and often use a challenging climate as an opportunity. And so it is with the coronavirus.

Cybercriminals have been quick to take advantage of the situation with a dramatic rise in activity.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), has removed more than 2,000 online coronavirus scams over the last month, including 471 fake online shops selling fraudulent coronavirus-related items, 555 malware distribution sites and 832 advance-fee frauds promising a large sum of money in return for a set-up payment.

Current COVID-19 fraud risks include procurement fraud, benefit fraud, fake applications for grants and charity impersonation fraud.

Within 24 hours of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme being launched, online fraudsters had sent a flurry of phishing emails targeting unsuspecting businesses claiming to be from HMRC chief executive, Jim Harra.


Homeworking poses increased risk

Working from home arrangements have exacerbated cybersecurity challenges that have always been there. Unsecured data transmissions by people who aren’t using VPN software, weak control over risk-mitigating behaviour (the “human firewall”), and, particularly at the moment, psychological stress that may mean employees ignore controls for the sake of getting things done.

Business owners and finance directors need to fulfil their responsibilities to uphold their business’ security. They have got to make sure the systems and controls that protect their businesses against cybercrime are standing up, wherever their employees are working from, and not assume that everyone has the proper protection.

Business owners need to have the safeguards and firewalls in place to ensure cyber security for staff at home, rather than leaving it to chance.


The same for everyone

There must be uniformity across the business to make sure that everyone has got the same level or protection.

IT departments need to secure work-from-home systems and test and scale VPNs and incident-response tools.

It can be easy to not keep a close eye on the way the business runs if every member of the team is working remotely. Managers may start to assume that people are doing what they need to do when they need to do it – and by and large – they are right to do so.

However, when it comes to protecting the business from cyber criminals, having the best IT systems across the board and constantly communicating to your staff is the best way to help minimise the risks this danger poses.

We must all stay safe, and this includes our technology to ensure cyber security at home is maintained.

Are you unclear on any COVID-19 related issues that your business is facing? Get in touch and we will be happy to assist you

About you


Find and contact your local Haines Watts office

About the author

Kevin Hodgetts

Kevin trained and qualified as a Chartered Accountant at Haines Watts Birmingham Office after graduating from Aston University’s Business School. He has been with the firm for over 15 years and has worked his way through the ranks from trainee to Partner.

As well as advising many owner managed businesses, Kevin leads all of our registered charity, FCA and education sector audit work. He has developed effective communication lines with clients, providing advice and assistance on a wide range of issues, including finance, strategy, governance, internal controls and accounting systems; this also includes a very good working knowledge of computerised and cloud-based accounting systems.

Kevin has also undertaken a variety of voluntary roles in the charity sector for a number of years, which has recently led to him enter for the Birmingham Half Marathon.

Outside of work, Kevin lives in South Staffordshire, is happily married and has an avid interest in music and sport. He plays football for a local side and leads the ‘developing’ Haines Watts Birmingham team in national and local tournaments when work permits. He counts golf, cricket and darts amongst his other sporting passions and in his spare time enjoys dabbling at playing the saxophone!

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