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#cybersecurity | hacker | Five tips for managing remote workers during a pandemic


Is your
organization ready to securely support a wide range of remote workers in the
wake of a global pandemic? With cases of coronavirus mounting in countries
around the globe and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warning citizens to
be prepared for the likelihood the illness will spread across other regions of
the world, now is the time for enterprises to start asking themselves that
question.

According to
one CDC official, a coronavirus outbreak in the North America is no longer a
matter of if but when, and then how widespread will it be?
Given the uncertainty, infectious disease specialists at the CDC and elsewhere advise
it is time to begin preparatory planning for possibility of social distancing strategies
and even quarantines in the coming future.

“We should
all be dusting off our pandemic preparedness plans and rehearse them very
quickly,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious specialist from Vanderbilt
University, told NBC News.

For businesses
and other organizations, this preparedness should include heavy involvement
from IT to ensure that all of the knowledge workers who can feasibly work from
home have the technical support they require to securely access company
systems, data, and productivity tools with minimal disruption to workflows.
Laying that groundwork now could make or break a company’s ability to sustain
operations should coronavirus require large populations to start holing up at
home.

Maintaining a
secure, seamless workflow for remote workers impacted by the coronavirus or other
widespread pathogen will require IT and cybersecurity professionals to implement
strategies that help them achieve continuity of business processes:

Removing the
VPN Speedbump

So many of
today’s traditional remote work security solutions depend upon VPN or VDI
technology that not only impedes productivity, but also does an inconsistent
job effectively safeguarding systems from sophisticated threats. In fact, one study found that 18% of VPNs don’t even
encrypt their traffic at all, while 84% use improper encryption protocols to
protect that traffic.

Large enterprises need a faster, safer channel of connection to allow remote workers access to their files and productivity software in order to enable meaningful work from home. This will be key in a potential coronavirus or other pathogen outbreak quarantine situation where many employees who traditionally work from the office will be forced to work from home during for extended periods.

Device-Agnostic
Capabilities are a Must

Additionally,
IT should be seeking out the ability to conduct work no matter where, when, or
from which device the worker chooses to get things done.

Users today have high expectations about how they are able to conduct business, and a secure remote work solution has got to be able to accommodate different OS platforms and be able to support people in gaining access to whatever web-based app, intranet site, or data file they need to get their job done.

Offer
Productivity Software People Actually Use

Let’s face it,
there are a lot of alternative document, spreadsheet, and slide creation
software platforms out there in this SaaS era that never quite cut it in an
enterprise environment.

Most workers are used to Word, Excel, and Power Point, and they’ll need seamless access to MS Office to maintain their productivity levels when working from home. It’s up to IT departments to find a way to make that happen.

Maintain
Productivity Even in Spotty Coverage Areas

In the event that a wide swath of workers will need to swiftly socially distance themselves from the general public to stay safe from coronavirus or other widespread pathogens, it’s likely that many of them will run into connectivity issues in certain instances. This means that the remote work platform an organization chooses needs to have a robust offline mode to provide access to a range of assets even when internet is down.

In addition, organizations should consider the benefits of communications tools designed specifically for collaboration in times of crisis. An emergency notification system can be an indispensable mitigation tool when normal business operations are interrupted due to an emergency.

These tools can
enable your response teams and leadership to maintain better situational awareness
during an incident, provide better visibility into the status of employees and key
business assets, and allow teams to collaborate securely and efficiently with
internal resources and external third-party services.

It Needs to
be Safe and Easy

Even as organizations smooth the path to easy access for remote workers, they’ve got to be seeking out a platform that can maintain continuous authentication so that users are always authorized to access only the documents and systems they require for their job duties.

Additionally, their devices should be protected with the kind of AI-powered defense that can take on modern threats like fileless and zero-day attacks without interrupting the user’s workflow or consuming an excessive amount of resources in the users’ device.

Finally, the
whole process should be easy for administrators, too. With a potential flood of
new remote users that may be imminent from a pandemic situation, IT will need a
platform that can simply onboard and offboard users.

Takeaways

Most enterprise
IT leaders today already recognize that offering remote work opportunities to
the workforce is no longer a nice-to-have perk for a select few workers
in limited situations. Enterprises are increasingly finding that remote work is
a must-have job requirement for a growing number of young employees.

The
non-traditional arrangements among mobile workers, contract staff, new parents,
flex employees, seasonal staff, and innovation partners adds to the importance
of seamlessly enabling remote work across the entire organization.

The recent coronavirus
outbreak is illuminating another hidden reason to build the infrastructure to
securely support remote work: namely that highly functional and secure remote
work infrastructure plays a crucial role in maintaining business continuity. As
experts warn of a potential pandemic situation, now is the time to take that
imperative seriously.



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