Nothing new here – managing a remote workforce

Managing the IT of a remote workforce is no different than a traditionally dispersed workforce, says Scott Davidson, Managing Director of ISN Solutions.

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic fading, his legacy is something that has fundamentally changed the makeup of many businesses today. With lockdown came remote working, and now that many have returned to the office, countless companies are choosing to continue a hybrid work environment where employees split their time between home and the office. This approach may require a major overhaul of a company’s IT infrastructure, but how new is remote work?

Scott Davidson, Managing Director of ISN Solutions, says remote working is nothing new and managed service providers (MSPs) have been dealing with cybersecurity, productivity and business development issues for many years. a traditionally dispersed workforce.

With a dispersed workforce, flexibility is crucial. In many industries, remote workers have been commonplace for some time. From energy to mining and retail to banking, resilient IT infrastructure and security have been priorities for companies looking to equip their employees with the best and most secure equipment, and manage the transfer of critical data from remote satellite locations to headquarters.

These principles apply to any business looking to transition to a hybrid workforce, and much can be learned from the successes of these traditionally dispersed operations. Including how to handle breaches, scams, threats and of course how to maintain or increase productivity.

Vulnerability to breaches

A 2021 report from cybersecurity firm Tenable claims that 74% of organizations attribute recent cyberattacks impacting business to vulnerabilities in technology put in place during the pandemic. These costly and business-threatening attacks could result from the hacking of a single unsecured device in the home of a single employee. With personal and corporate devices sharing the same home network, the risk of malware, ransomware and banking Trojans being transferred from an employee’s personal device to a corporate machine and continuing to spread. ‘infecting the entire company network is high, especially if the employee has not been trained in good security hygiene. In addition, it is extremely difficult to discover, intercept or monitor threats from personal devices that may have been transferred to home networks.

For this reason, an increasing number of companies are now implementing a zero-trust security architecture (where the system is assumed to be compromised and personnel access to data is severely limited as needed). However, the downside to this approach is that poor planning can slow down speed, productivity, and collaboration.

An MSP can advise and deploy the most appropriate security architecture to meet current business needs, and in many cases, solutions to these issues are more cost-effective and affordable than business leaders realize. In fact, companies may already have licenses that have unused tools or features that can help. Most solutions in today’s world are cloud-based and “as a service,” which incur monthly operating costs, rather than one-time capital investments on software and hardware.

These flexible as-a-service packages also provide the business with the assurance that the solution is always maintained by the vendor, with the latest updates and security patches, allowing administrators and C-suite executives to focus on business growth without having to worry about the risk of business data and operations being compromised.

Phishing scams

Criminals take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding substandard IT infrastructure and protocols often seen in a poorly managed hybrid workforce. The number of phishing sites has increased by 27%, and this form of attack is the most common, constituting 83% of all breaches.

Training staff to recognize phishing scams can save businesses a potentially costly experience down the line. Additionally, any threats discovered should be addressed immediately to stop or minimize potential damage. To avoid any unwanted and unnecessary hassles, companies can consider outsourcing IT support to an MSP to get round-the-clock support with security threat neutralization. Criminals don’t just work during office hours, and with particularly dangerous malware, such as ransomware, immediate action can mean the difference between the breach being a small problem or an enterprise-wide disaster. .

The insider threat

There was a disturbing growth in attempts to bribe or induce employees to sabotage or disclose private and sensitive company information during the early lockdowns. We are now moving on to the current normal, companies are more aware of good health and safety practices and looking to keep systems secure, but hackers are still increasingly trying to exploit a company’s personnel, who may not not know good security practices and know how to recognize a scam.

Unfortunately, working from home poses more risk of opportune “insider” attacks, especially in shared accommodations. A roommate could potentially discover an employee’s passwords to access company equipment, and if the home workspace is shared, it’s possible to just look over someone’s shoulder. a person when they log on, without a busy employee noticing.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) can help reduce the risk of insider attacks from people in close proximity, as the combination of authentication factors can make a machine less vulnerable to opportune break-in attempts. An IT MSP can deploy robust security measures, including MFAs and firewalls, as well as backup systems to ensure that your critical data and that of your customers is always protected.

Concerns

Many raise concerns about productivity in a remote environment, citing the lack of specialized tools and equipment found in the office as a major problem hindering effective work. However, from my experience working with industries where remote workforces have always been the norm, when staff are supported by the right IT infrastructure, productivity, customer retention and reputation of the business can be improved with a hybrid workforce. An MSP can provide a bespoke solution tailored to the complex needs of your workforce, ensuring they can perform their jobs efficiently without being constrained by substandard IT arrangements.

The technology and products available today have made working remotely easier. A major development that will be crucial for hybrid work environments is Windows 365. This puts Windows in the cloud, making “your PC” available from any device, anywhere. Being able to access your PC through an app or web browser on any device improves accessibility regardless of location, benefits from cloud-based security and offers clear scalability to adapt to the dynamic mold of your company’s IT infrastructure. Developments like this make remote working seamless for any business.

Staff must be empowered to be able to perform at a high level, not only for staff well-being, but also for the positive impact on customer retention and company reputation. As we move away from the disruption caused by the pandemic, business leaders are now considering investing in technology to increase productivity and efficiency.

A plethora of tools exist to help automate repetitive administration, freeing up time for staff to focus on tasks that increase business value. Additionally, new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are playing an increasingly important role in scaling business operations, especially in the use of chatbots in customer service and customer service delivery. information to increase digital sales.

However, it is important not to rush into decisions and to continue to assess the effectiveness and potential security risks of software and applications before committing to using them. The term “zoom-bombing,” in which malicious individuals eavesdrop on or interfere with private meetings, has become well known during the pandemic as businesses have been forced to turn to virtual conferencing software at short notice.

Outdated IT systems not only risk becoming obsolete and hampering productivity; it can pose a serious threat to the security of business operations, finances and its employees, if a costly scam damages the company’s reputation and hinders growth. Businesses absolutely must be prepared to meet the demands of a modern workforce and the onslaught of new security and financial threats, especially as many businesses are still vulnerable while recovering from the fall of the lockout period.

Many industries with a dispersed workforce have required remote working for years and the underlying principles are transferable and a tailored solution must be created for each company’s unique needs. A “one size fits all” approach is haphazard and can leave gaps in the cybersecurity architecture, however, with a true understanding of the complexities of a business, business IT and critical data transfer, it can be as robust as it was before the pandemic. influenced our way of working. But for many industries, especially those that have embraced a remote working model for many years, this is nothing new.

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