This article originally appeared in CityAM.

The widespread destruction caused by the Covid-19 outbreak remains difficult to comprehend, with lives lost, businesses destroyed, and communities forced into isolation. Statistics show that even after this terrible disease has been beaten, the economic and social impact will be deep and long lasting, with surging unemployment and shattered dreams brought on by the necessary lockdown measures, preventing many businesses from trading.

We have already seen thousands of promising British start-ups and successful SMEs close their doors for good, and many more employees have been laid off, or placed on the government’s new furlough leave scheme.

Millions of employees working for businesses which have been fortunate enough to continue operations will now be entering the second month of their company’s brand new remote working model. Many are still adjusting to the world of video conferencing calls and cloud-enabled software, in an effort to continue business as usual.

Even those who have made a transition from office-to-home can attest that it hasn’t been easy: training staff on brand new technology via web conferencing service and operating on infrastructure not built for home working are not straightforward tasks.

One key concern which has fallen under the radar during the rush to remote working has been the increased security risk posed to businesses as a result of working from home. Right now, hundreds of companies, government departments and NHS Trusts are ordering in new laptops and tablet computers to enable staff to operate as usual. In many cases this will mean the quick installation of workplace software and apps, with employees often using personal home devices with outdated software – all of which can pose significant security risks.

Unfortunately, opportunistic cyber criminals never miss a trick and are already targeting unsuspecting workers with a variety of phishing and malware attacks. Recent polling of 200 UK decision-makers showed that nearly three quarters of companies believe that the shift to 100% remote working during the COVID-19 crisis has increased the likelihood of a cyber breach. What’s more, 46% had already seen an increase in phishing attacks since implementing a policy of widespread remote working.

Combatting this threat requires a concerted effort across all levels of an organisation. Current predictions suggest that workers could be in lockdown for up to six more months, which is too long for businesses to sit idly by, merely hoping that the wave of cybercrime does not affect them (spoiler alert: it will).

The most important step in securing your company in this new age of online operations, is to enable endpoint security on all devices, both old and new. Devices such as laptops and tablets are access points for opportunistic cyber criminals – and they will stop at nothing to steal, corrupt or hijack extremely sensitive company information. Fortunately for them, although many companies have invested hugely in new devices to facilitate online working, they have failed to implement the accompanying required endpoint security.

If an organisation does find itself facing a breach of information, it’s important they can identify the source and take back control. With Absolute Software’s endpoint security, IT Managers, security executives or indeed any line-manager or operating officer can ensure continued visibility and control of endpoints with a firmware based, persistent digital tether to every device. Absolute ensures that this connection is never interrupted even after a full rebuild of the device. The Absolute platform allows an enterprise to gain an insight into all internet connected devices and their current security compliance against company policy as well as lock, freeze, wipe or automatically remediate a device which has been breached, even if rebuilt with a new operating system; effectively allowing business owners to seize control of their ‘device estate’, which has most likely grown exponentially in the past month.

Similarly, it is extremely important that software, such as Zoom or Microsoft, is patched and updated to the newest version at all time, to protect the company from security vulnerabilities, such as Wormable, Zero Day and others. Unfortunately, with the growing role of home devices in businesses during this difficult time, it can be challenging for IT managers to spot outdated and unsecure applications. Enabling a connected endpoint security control network that includes automated workflows can negate this issue by allowing designated managers to swiftly identify problems and accelerate the remote installations of updates, removal of apps, or system upgrades.

COVID-19 is enough for businesses to worry about without the risk of a severe breach of company, client or even employee data. Therefore, key decision makers must ‘batten down the hatches’ with effective security training and sophisticated endpoint security, ensuring they have a comprehensive network of secure devices to combat the wave of cybercrime slowly impacting what remains of British business.

Learn more about how Absolute is helping all customers keep their remote devices secure on our website.