Cyber criminals are incredibly astute, and always up to date with World events.

It may be the case that one of the last points on any business owner's mind at the moment, with the major issues facing us all, is malware - but it is absolutely essential that all businesses take a moment to ensure that they are adequately protected from cyber-attacks as the risks are even greater at a time like this.

A huge number of the UK’s 35 million person work force will be logging on remotely across the country today. It is very possible that some businesses will have never had their teams log on from home before – and may simply not have the protection in place to prevent unwanted access to their systems. Some systems may struggle to cope with an increase in remote access and teams may have had to make changes to their online security set up to accommodate this, which could have inadvertently made the system more vulnerable.

Even the biggest companies with the best protections struggle to keep out all dangerous phishing emails.

As a business it is vital that you and your teams are aware that cybercriminals are already out there looking to exploit any weaknesses in your systems and to prey on the uncertainty and confusion of individuals within any company. They also know that businesses are waiting to hear from HMRC, the Government, or their bank with regard to grants, loans, mortgage holidays and emergency staff pay for example. It is very likely that emails will be landing in inboxes across the UK as we speak which purport to be from HMRC or the Government or a bank suggesting that the recipient should follow the link contained in the email in order to make a claim or provide information to enable the Government/HMRC to progress matters for them or to apply for a loan.

It is vital that all businesses review their online security and are extra vigilant at this time in relation to emails which purport to be from these agencies and provide click through links. All staff should be reminded of the dangers of accessing websites which are not secure or following links in emails, even if they look genuine. The advice should include: 1. properly read the email address of the sender as this often gives away whether an email is not from who it purports to be from; 2. consider whether this is an unsolicited approach; 3. be suspicious and check with the company IT department or a senior colleague before taking any action in response to the email.

The approach we all take to these risks may mean the difference between continuing to operate remotely and efficiently, versus being locked out of our own system.