The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to work remotely.
One thing to keep in mind as employees patch into company networks from the comfort of their living rooms: Scammers are hard at work, too.
The consultants at accounting company Crowe LLP told dealerships in a webinar last week that working remotely, while critical to keeping operations going as states and cities shut down physical sites to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, also carries a number of cybersecurity risks. Fellow Automotive News reporter Jackie Charniga watched the training and shared some of Crowe's recommendations.
Some consultants have seen an increase in phishing email scams masquerading as information about the virus, which could carry malicious ransomware. An increase in the number of remote workers who are connecting to business systems from their home Internet service via a virtual private network, or VPN, also introduces new vulnerabilities to consider, Crowe said.
Cybersecurity criminals, said Crowe partner Glen Combs, "are salivating at these opportunities."
But remote work doesn't automatically open the door to malicious activity, Crowe advised. Dealerships can take precautions to protect their stores, their employees and their customers.
For one, limit the number of dealership employees who can have VPN access, as well as how frequently they can connect to the store's network, Crowe said. Multifactor authentication also can protect dealership data, both through VPN connections and through email accessed remotely.
And make sure the dealership's email filters are updated frequently so scammers' messages don't slip through the cracks, the company suggested. Many email providers use such filters to screen messages, including links and attachments where harmful material can live.
Last week, I asked you to share how your dealerships are weathering the impact, which only grows by the day — sometimes by the hour. How are you using digital tools to complement or replace — if your state or municipality has required your showrooms to close — your physical sales? Which employees have started to work remotely, and how is it going? What steps are you taking to protect your computer networks?
As always, I'd love to hear from you: [email protected].