Organizations need to urgently analyze their infrastructure and ensure they can maintain their business continuity in a secured fashion.
The ability to operate and succeed during this time will depend on a number of choices which can be grouped under four main categories:
Considering a change from a physical focus to specific enterprise software can prove to be beneficial since it enables dynamic configuration. This can improve network performance as demand patterns change. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is one such arrangement wherein a desktop operating system runs and is managed in an on premises or cloud data center. Cyber security and a robust identity management protocol are extremely important before implementing any changes.
Communication is at the heart of an organization’s success. Consider putting applications to the cloud so that a company network is not necessary to access every time.
Customer service support is specific to companies, customers and divisions and tend to be more difficult to manage centrally. This can be managed by using cloud based project management tools which allow the customer support team to login from wherever they are and retrieve the necessary information/solution for the customer. Zendesk, Zoho Desk, Vision Helpdesk and HubSpot Service Hub are some of the customer relationship management (CRM) software available.
The need to transition to remote work mode has happened at lightning speed due to the current pandemic. However controlling the process of production and redesigning business operations in such times require thinking in the following directions
The challenges to adapt to remote working will vary from one company to another depending on its previous technology choices. Some of the issues to consider when it has been decided to work majorly towards remote working would be
More homes are getting connected and consumer IoT devices such as light bulbs, refrigerators and so on which are created without much security in mind are getting connected through the same Wi-Fi system. This puts corporate assets on the same Wi-Fi network thereby providing an entry point for hackers to reach corporate targets. 52% of the respondents of the CISCO 2020 Benchmark Report said that mobile devices are extremely challenging to defend. As employees bring corporate devices unto unsecure networks they also face an increasing number of phishing attacks as hackers tend to lure them with coronavirus related malware.
In an office setup identity management parameters can be defined precisely. However, in a remote setup challenges could range from determining endpoint protection for home users, review of what software the remote workforce needs additionally, implementing 2 factor authentication, assessing the impact to firewalls, conditional access policies and other logging as well as updating the acceptable use policies for remote staff.
Stress testing refers to testing of software and/or hardware and the infrastructure to determine whether its performance is satisfactory under unfavorable conditions. The COVID-19 situation has created an enormous unplanned stress on an organization’s network resources and also human resources. This is because there is a need to secure employee health and network security while ensuring business continuity.
It is clear that businesses are scrambling to balance remotely connecting its workforce while producing revenue and supporting clients at the same time. Companies are rightly concerned about ensuring operational capabilities are in place first as well as locking down any security issues. Discussed below are some imperatives to assist smoother remote work
The urgency and pressure of setting up staff for remote working is likely to shuffle priorities, which would mean assigning staff differently to ensure that the growing number of IT requests are taken care of. This translates to putting aside the necessary IT budget to ensure that the organization’s core infrastructure is ready to cope with remote work. It is also necessary to secure enough bandwidth to support VPN by subjecting the network to necessary stress tests.
IT infrastructure alone will not ensure a company’s systems, software and security are properly configured and operating well. When incorporating technology for remote work into the company infrastructure the following measures need to be implemented to overcome cyber security threats
Cybersecurity and identity management teams should constantly upgrade security measures that include:
Cybersecurity training and awareness building initiatives are also critical to reducing risk. Some of the steps in this direction are
Meetings can be conducted via WebEx, Zoom or Skype securely. Whatever be the tool, clear communication must be sent out with regard to the same. The host should be extremely vigilant about the participants at all times. Enterprise level collaboration platforms such as Trello, Skype and Slack provide secure chat and project management capabilities. Commercial platforms should be avoided since they lack sufficient cyber security and identity management features . Organizations should therefore regularly review and assess the security configurations of these platforms to detect any form of shadow IT set up to collaborate in unapproved ways.
Building resilience into the existing system and having a disaster recovery plan should be an ongoing process. The University of Sussex, which is completely dependent on face to face interactions, is now completely closed in response to the global pandemic regulations. A week before the close down only 100 staff members had the ability to work from home via remote desktop protocol. But today 3000 staff and 19000 students can connect to the University. This massive switch has happened in super quick time. Jason Oliver, director of IT, at the University of Sussex says that they had to convert a 5 year road map to a one week deliverable. It adopted a digital transformation strategy which includes introduction of cloud based applications, networking and video conferencing technology.
Some of the tasks that need to be undertaken in an ongoing manner towards building resilience are
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