With the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic still affecting businesses after almost 18 months, IT support experts from Amshire IT explain how to make sure your business is fully prepared for the technological and security challenges of continued remote working
The uncertainty invoked by COVID-19 is still being felt, some 16 months on from its emergence. The unpredictability of the virus has caused many to pay greater attention to their business continuity plans.
With travel still restricted, enforced quarantine periods and the possibility of employees having to isolate, it is essential for your business to have plans in place to allow operations to continue.
Data & Applications
The introduction of cloud-based web apps has made remote working much easier. However, it is important to consider how many of your existing applications and data files still require a VPN, Citrix Receiver, Remote Desktop or local access to servers…These are criteria you should consider:
- If you currently employ a remote access solution for remote working, does the licensing cover the entire workfoce?
- If your employee’s device requires VPN software or other applications, will their device have these pre-installed?
- Has everyone received official training on how to connect remotely? Make sure URLs for webmail, cloud-based apps and your own remote systems are easy to find and well documented.
The majority of employees will have access to their own PC or laptop at home. Providing a work device will provide greater control, but if staff do use their own device you should be wary of:
- Will employees personal devices have the necessary software installed?
- If using company laptops, do they have their own 4G connections or will staff have to use their own wifi? If so, do they know how to connect?
Technological advances have made life more convenient, especially with the ability to work remotely – however, increased flexibility does also increase security risks.
To balance the flexibility of remote working and security, it is essential to consider:To access all external data and applications users should require Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). According to the SANS Software Security Institute, the use of MFA can prevent 99.9% of potential breaches. The main reason why some organisations still don’t have MFA? A perception that it’s inconvenient.If staff are connecting via their own devices, is your organisation the provider of security software? A compromised personal device connected to your network via VPN can expose all data across the company with ransomware.
Remote working will mean your workforce is spread over different locations, with different devices – meaning they will likely need IT support.Does your workforce have access to IT support when needed?Remote monitoring and support tools are a key part of a Managed Service Provider’s toolset – what do you have in place to assist staff remotely?If you currently employ a MSP, does your contract cover staff working from their own devices at home?Are your staff able to access support out of business hours?
To limit delays in support and downtime, you should work to create an advice document to outline who to contact if employees require remote assistance, e.g if they’re unable to connect.
Steps to success
From here, the best foot forward is to test your current setup, test it again and then re-test with a wider remit. It is also crucial to ensure all employees have the necessary training to prepare them for remote working. The most important lesson to approach remote working is with a security-first, convenience second mindset!