Central Penn Business Journal’s Feb. 24 Cyber Technology Webinar featured Michael Hawkins of Netizen Corp., Clinton Eppleman of Morefield Communications, Anthony Cartolaro of Weidenhammer and Travis Lenker of BlackCSI.

It may be time to reevaluate your business’ cybersecurity protocols, but according to a panel of area experts, you could already have access to many of the tools to make your network that much safer.

This week, four IT experts joined the Central Penn Business Journal in its Cyber Technology Webinar to discuss the technology that helps Pennsylvania’s businesses operate effectively and what firms should be doing to protect their data in the age of remote working.

The abrupt move to working at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic led many businesses to shift to remote working within days, and while many firms may have invested in steps to protect their data, the risk of a data breach is higher than ever.

“The potential risk that a breach would bring to the business not only affects your customer, but the company’s reputation and, frankly, our society is becoming much more increasingly cyber aware,” said Anthony Cartolaro, vice president of digital platforms at Philadelphia-based digital strategies and technology solutions firm Weidenhammer.

Michael Hawkins, CEO of Allentown-based Netizen Corp., said that for small businesses that don’t have a big cybersecurity budget, the basics go a long way.

Educating staff on who they share their information with, making sure that technology in the office is configured properly and staying up to date on software updates across the network are all accessible ways to secure a firm’s network.

“We have embraced a culture of working anywhere at any time and having that access is an additional burden for organizations to secure,” said Cartolaro. “Oftentimes, what would have been a reasonably secure policy for working in the building became lax so employees could install what they needed on their laptops.”

Doing more to protect the data of your firm and its clients could be as simple as reviewing the software you already to see if there are security features built-in that are not being used.

Companies like Microsoft and others offer features that can improve a company’s security but may not be activated. Fr example, Microsoft’s Office 365’s mobile device management, allows staff to access corporate data safely through a personal phone.

Clinton Eppleman, team lead and IT professional services and senior systems Engineer at Gettysburg-based Morefield Communications, said that the same can be said about the many communications platforms that businesses have adopted.

“If you look at the feature charts for tools, a lot of times these premium tools have security features to allow us to communicate and work remotely effectively,” he said, adding that some of those features may come with an upcharge.

While companies like Microsoft and Zoom offer the tools to secure a firm’s network, Cartolaro said the tools are not foolproof. It’s up to an organization to build a strategy around those tools, he said.

If a firm is unable to do that for themselves, it may be time to seek outside help, said Travis Lenker, director of managed services at BlackCSI in Mechanicsburg.

“All of these things we are talking about can be offered as a suite of services and provided to you on a monthly, budgetable basis,” Lenker said.

Even businesses with a dedicated IT staff may need to look into hiring a managed services provider to help with the influx of tickets coming from across the organization, he said.

In the work-at-home landscape, a strong cybersecurity plan won’t just help protect a firm against potential attacks and the legal fees that follow, but is also a great selling point to clients, said Cartolaro.

The panelists also stressed the importance of good cybersecurity insurance with Hawkins noting that someone shouldn’t wait until a fire happens to work with the fire company.

“I wouldn’t say your risks are so great that you should be scared in your boots that you need cyber insurance today, but you need to think about that cost and what it can do to your business,” said Lenker.