Do you have the standards and practices in place that will allow your organization to continue operations in the face of a health-related emergency?
Recent news cycles have shown little other than updates on coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Schools are closed for several days for deep-cleaning procedures. Colleges and universities are putting remote study options in place. Businesses are preparing for a possible quarantine situation. While it’s still unknown whether COVID-19 will prove more fatal than the common flu, there is little question that there’s a furor surrounding this health crisis that has rarely been seen in modern times. Just as you would prepare your organization for a fight against ransomware or other cyberattacks, it’s also vital to be prepared for a different eventuality — where all business must be conducted remotely.
Is your company fully prepared to launch these procedures in the event of a public health crisis or natural disaster? Los Angeles IT solutions provider, Holden Watne with Gen IX in Culver City offers up some solid advice.
Preparing Your Business for Remote Activities
One of the best ways to help prepare your business is to immediately put measures in place that will prevent a widespread quarantine from occurring. This means getting aggressive with additional cleaning measures, ensuring that anyone with symptoms is able to successfully work from home or take time off and encouraging staff members to immediately seek medical care if they have any questions. Having solid business continuity and disaster recovery mechanisms in place also mean ensuring that you are able to quickly communicate important information to all staff members in a short period of time, and have a communication plan that can be triggered at a moment’s notice to keep your business safe and running as smoothly as possible in the event of an incident.
Preparing a Work From Home Strategy
Businesses across the world are looking for ways to provide a more flexible working environment for their staff, planning that works well for companies that might be facing limitations against gathering in a physical location. More than 90% of individuals agree that the ability to work remotely at least a portion of their week would greatly improve morale, while businesses find that productivity increases when offering this option. With approximately 80% of companies in the US offering some form of flexible workspace policy, the first step towards business continuity in a pandemic situation has likely been conquered.
Maintaining Secure Operations with Remote Staff
Creating a remote work policy can be time-consuming, but ensuring that the individuals who are able to take advantage of working from home are security is often what’s concerning for IT professionals. In an increasingly active world of cybercriminals, maintaining security onsite is difficult while offsite security can feel next-to-impossible to maintain. This often necessitates shifting business applications and data storage to the cloud, a move that is encouraged by many tech leaders. “The use of virtual environments is key to providing capacity and flexibility, but this means placing applications in the public cloud for easier access,” says Alex Schlager, chief product officer in the cyber-security group at US telecoms company Verizon. This means “traditional ‘physical’ perimeter security solutions that have protected critical applications in the past are no longer effective”. Some organizations are deploying specific technology solutions to protect their entities, such as hardware tokens, mandatory password managers and additional security training options for staff both onsite and remote.
With 1 in 3 companies already feeling the negative impact of IT security due to staff members or contractors working remotely, the worst is yet to come as companies may be forced to launch work from home strategies without a great deal of advanced notice or forethought. Virtual private networks (VPN) are often considered a dangerous threat vector by cybersecurity professionals because they can offer a direct inlet to your business applications and servers — and have proven vulnerable to brute force attacks against administrator logins. While the benefits associated with remote work are still considered to outweigh the difficulties by a wide margin, it’s important to start early and re-evaluate your remote work security policies to reduce the possibility of an unexpected attack against your organization.
Stuart Crawford serves as Managing Partner with Ulistic LP, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.