You’re the owner of a small business, and your employees are all set up to work from home. Firewall and enterprise-level anti-virus software in place. Regular data back-ups. You may even have cyber-insurance. And then Stage 6 loadshedding kicks in, and your people head for local coffee shops to get some work done – and all your preparation and precautions go flying out of the window.

That’s because they’re likely to log into an unsecured public WiFi network, which brings with it a range of risks – including identity theft, theft of passwords, the installation of malware, snooping for confidential data and even ransomware attacks.

Problem is, both hybrid work and loadshedding are here to stay. So how do you keep your people safe on public WiFi? It’s Safer Internet Day today (7 February), and George Parrott, commercial partner at King Price, offers his top tips for employers and employees alike.

* Make sure your people have a safe working environment – If you can’t ensure your people have backup power systems and safe internet, it’s up to the business to ensure they have somewhere safe to work, like a flexible workspace, that allows them to access company and customer data safely.

* Educate your people – “When it comes to security, your people are the weakest link. They use unsecured networks. They click on dodgy links. They use weak passwords. They let other people use their devices. Your best defence is to create an active cybersecurity culture that gets everyone in the business following basic security habits,” says Parrott.

* If you really have to use public WiFi – To stay completely secure, the best thing is to not use public WiFi connections. But if you need to connect to do some work, there are a couple of precautions you can take. Turn your VPN on, and your Bluetooth off. Check your antivirus is working. Use multi-factor authentication. Avoid filling in sensitive information while connected. It’s not ideal, but it’s safer, says Parrott.

* Have the right precautions in place – Combining a proactive security approach with a strong cyber insurance policy is essential for any business to guard against the potential cost of restoring productivity and reputation after an attack. Proactive security measures include implementing firewalls, appropriate security software, malware scanning and continuous employee training on the basics of security.

Ensuring that software patch management on all laptops are enabled as this will fix vulnerabilities on your software and applications that are susceptible po cyber-attacks, will help your organisation reduce its security risk.

“And while cyber insurance policies can’t prevent your company from being attacked, it is an important way to protect businesses from the after-effects of a breach,” says Parrott.