Businesses are facing an unprecedented situation in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. The outbreak has forced companies worldwide to work on the remote model for ensuring business continuity. However, it is a humongous task when you dig deeper, going much beyond enabling the team to access company data and collaborate remotely. The initial rush was confined to just getting connected but the concerns grew much bigger once the dust settled. Obviously, security is the biggest matter for all businesses and it became all the more important with people accessing the company data and network from a host of locations.
Though the concern is common for everyone, things are even more challenging if you have never let people work from home before. So how do you ensure that your network and data remain secure in this new scenario? Is it possible to get your business operating securely and resiliently remotely? Fortunately, it is, if you take the right approach to managing cybersecurity for your remote workforce in this crisis situation. Let us explain how you can do it.
Step 1: Embracing the change
Obviously, your first priority right now would be to get a system up and running seamlessly so that you can sustain it. For years, businesses have been making a move towards cloud adoption and remote working as part of their digital transformation initiatives. If you have already started this journey, the transition may be easier for you. And if not, you will still need to embrace the change to adapt to the immediate crisis. Here is a list of changes that are suggested for every business as a part of their anti-COVID strategy:
- Adoption of cloud-based applications and storage as a substitute for on-premise hardware and software
- Remote working and collaboration for all the employees
- Flexible work hours and virtual meetings with the clients and co-workers
- New work-from-home policies and processes to be followed by the entire team
The best part about these changes is that they are positive and progressive and will probably stay even after things get back to normal.
Step 2: Understanding the risks
While embracing the change is mandatory for all businesses, understanding the risks involved is equally vital. Only when you are able to identify the risks will you be able to address them and ensure that the business operates seamlessly. It would be smart to outsource your IT support at this time because you will probably be more comfortable with remote teams now. And they will also help you establish the risks associated with this new working model. Here are the ones you need to be ready to counter:
- When remote workers are given permissions to access data, there is always a risk for the confidential information getting exposed
- Phishing attacks are more common as hackers get active and look for opportunities to steal data in these volatile circumstances
- There are chances of disgruntled employees selling or stealing data or simply befooling the company by not delivering optimal levels of productivity
- The risks to partners and suppliers are high at this stage and these may translate as an additional risk for your company as well
Being aware of the potential risks associated with a remote workforce is half the work done. Obviously, your IT partner will be able to take the right approach to managing them.
Step 3: Creating a risk management strategy
The sudden switch to remote working may not have given your business enough time to gear up against the critical cybersecurity risks. Still, everything’s not lost. Fortunately, there are several measures that organizations can take to secure themselves. A reliable IT support provider can define and implement them for managing the risks now and for the future. Here are the ones typically advised for businesses:
- Establishing visibility is critical as organizations need to understand their external digital footprint to identify the assets which are susceptible to attacks
- After identifying their attack surface, companies should minimize it by securing the misconfigured devices, patching the vulnerabilities and removing assets that need not be online
- It is equally important to identify and mitigate insider threats because employees outside the network have access to sensitive material
- Defending against the phishing onslaught involves continuing education and training for the employees
- Enforcing a strong cybersecurity policy is vital and so is ensuring complete adherence by the entire workforce
The role of the IT support provider is significant when it comes to managing these risks effectively. Since this is a critical situation, you should entrust this responsibility only to an expert and be sure that you can trust them with something vital to the existence of your business.