How to Create a Strong, Collaborative and Secure Remote Workforce
Four pieces every organization needs to be successful in the age of social distancing
Four pieces every organization needs to be successful in the age of social distancing Considering new social imperatives to slow the spread of COVID-19, all Canadian organizations should be transitioning to a remote workforce if they haven’t done so already. Depending on how your workforce and computer networks are structured, this shift may be easier for some businesses than others. For organizations who already have team members working from home or abroad, the following will be a helpful refresher and necessary reminded to stay vigilant. However, if your business is new to remote working or lacks key infrastructure — you may need to make some rapid adjustments to maximize systems reliability, team productivity and information security.
Invest in a trustworthy virtual private network
Any organization is only as secure as its weakest point. When it comes to remote working, that will almost always be a team members’ home-based wireless connection. A virtual private network (VPN) lays the foundation for your remote working arrangement by offering two primary points of protection for your organization’s sensitive data:
It keeps sensitive data off user hard drives — By allowing relevant team members to access information directly from your network, VPNs discourage people from needlessly copying and saving files to their devices.
It takes users off their home-based wireless networks — Using a VPN, your team members are effectively working on the same network as if they were in the office. A cyber criminal breaching their home network would not be able to see — let alone access — their VPN-connected device.
A service like ConnectWise Control offers the security, functionality, reliability and cross-platform support your team members require to get up and running on your business network as quickly as possible. Set up is straightforward, and it works well both if your team is connecting to an office-based machine from a home device or to your network using an employer supplied laptop.
Move to a cloud productivity suite
Of course, you also need to make sure your team has the tools to communicate and function securely —on any device and from any location in the world. There are several options to consider, but none deliver the functionality, dependability, familiarity and security of Microsoft Office 365.
If your business is already utilizing the Microsoft Office productivity suite, the transition to Office 365 will be seamless. The applications all offer the same features and user interface as the on-premises software — including Word, Excel and Outlook — along with some new tools to accelerate collaboration. These programs are all intuitive and scalable to meet your business needs.
Another benefit is the cost and time savings Office 365 for your IT team and on-site technology infrastructure. Microsoft cloud data centres will handle all the back-end functionality — including secure hosting and data storage, as well as automatic software and security updates.
Each user license can be installed on up to five different devices. And scaling up or down can be done as required at the click of a button.
Create multiple layers of protection
It has never been easier or more seamless to transition to a remote workforce. But the move will still test your IT department in ways a centralized workforce never could. Team members will likely be working odd hours, on a wide variety of different machines, with more people plugging into your network virtually than you’ve ever experienced before.
Now’s the time to review your entire security infrastructure from top to bottom to make sure it’s functional, effective and ready to handle the increased load.
Email and spam filters – Review your existing filters to make sure they’re preventing obvious sales and phishing type communications from getting through to your team members.
Perimeter security – Test your firewall and VPN to make sure it’s functioning properly and allowing access to those who need it and denying access to unauthorized visitors.
Antivirus / anti-malware – Update your endpoint protection software and review logs to see both what kinds of threats it’s containing and how effective it is at containing contemporary threats.
Disaster backup and recovery – If you perform network backups on premises, run a backup simulation to make sure your systems are functioning properly. If you back up into the cloud, coordinate with your cloud service provider to verify the service will remain secure, reliable and consistent while your team is away from the office.
Software updating and patch management – Encourage all team members to update their workstations and relevant software immediately and frequently while they are working remotely.
Policies, procedures and training – Most of your team members will never feel safer and more comfortable than they do at home; and that makes it easy to become complacent. Communicate regularly with your workforce about technology hygiene expectations and best practices.
Work with a managed service provider
The further your team drifts from the safety of your office, the more difficult it can be to juggle all the moving parts of your cyber security environment. The opportunities for hackers to succeed with phishing schemes, malware and ransomware, Wi-Fi spoofing and other network breaches are exponentially higher. It also places greater strain on your IT team and your existing breach response plan when everyone is trying to coordinate remotely.
Managed service providers like MNP are especially skilled at helping businesses keep their cyber security initiatives aligned and functional in such scenarios. We monitor your network 24/7 and can quickly identify when systems go down or any suspicious or unusual activity. More importantly we can rapidly trigger response plans as necessary and align all relevant stakeholders to contain, communicate and report on issues as quickly and effectively as possible.
Prepare your team with these best practices
Most devices are convenient, portable and work seamlessly at the click of a button. That’s great for the user experience — but can challenge your efforts to maintain a secure network with everyone working from home.
Use this checklist to help keep all your team members on the same page around the habits and best practices you expect when using workplace technology. When used in conjunction with your existing policies and procedures, these measures will add an extra layer of protection and confidence during this particularity unpredictable time.
Information technology is the central nervous system of your organization — especially at this dynamic and disorienting time. And it’s never been more important to ensure your network, applications and remote connections are fully functional and fully secure.
If you need assistance optimizing and configuring your technology architecture to meet the shifting demands on your business, MNP can help. From implementing new applications to reviewing your cyber security and wholly managing your IT processes, our team offers the insight, experience and peace of mind you need right now.
For more information, contact:
National Leader of Enterprise Resource Planning
National Cyber Security Leader