In the wake of global outbreak of COVID-19, there is a steady increase in the number of organizations employing proactive contingency plans virtually overnight to entrench their preparedness for the controllable pandemic, such as pulling out of signature events, restricting business travel, and educating their workforce on the impact of this coronavirus.
While this sounds all easy and comforting on paper, it all boils down to if and how are organizations going to sustain work productivity in times like these. The onus inevitably falls on IT teams to establish and implement sound strategies to orchestrate a synchronized virtual workplace.
This shift comes with its fair share of crucial factors, which IT teams will have to take into account when a work from home situation is warranted.
Laying a strong foundation for a solid virtual workplace
This is the first big step that entails organizations enabling their IT teams to build a fool-proof and effective foundation for a remote workplace. This includes taking stock of company assets, methodically encrypting on-premises, mobile devices and applications, plus providing access to corporate data and collaboration channels, such as through a secure virtual private network (VPN).
Now is the time for organizations to adopt a cloud-based, unified endpoint management strategy and deploy supporting solutions to help IT admins remotely configure, patch, update, and manage endpoint devices. Such solutions give employees the liberty to work remotely without network and application downtime and latency, and enable IT admins to promptly and remotely address any performance issues.
A remote workplace should include digital communication and collaboration tools to bolster productivity. This should ideally include support for unified communications and instant messaging, organizational forums, business conferencing and rich content management.
While remote work might initially appear quite challenging to those who have not experienced it, it is imperative for organizations to invest in more immersive tools for their workforce to help ensure they feel more engaged with their colleagues and their tasks, all of which helps sustain productivity.
Curbing unauthorized access to corporate data
Insider threats are a must on the checklists of organizations preparing to secure their infrastructure. Privileged users, such as data administrators, typically have complete access to their organization’s data, and when a work from home situation is mandated, these personnel will have to face the additional challenge of providing granular access to corporate resources.
There is often a lack of contextual information about users and requesters of data, which is a significant factor to consider before granting data privileges.
This is where a privileged access management (PAM) strategy plays an essential role in maintaining data integrity. Implementing authentication protocols, automated password encryption, and regular auditing and reporting can all help enterprises maintain data security.
Enterprises should consider deploying cloud-based, smart PAM solutions that can reduce the difficulty of streamlining workflows, as well as provision and de-provision access to corporate data based on prescribed roles. In addition, these solutions should provide actionable insights for staying compliant with regulatory standards and provide, two-factor authentication that organizations can enforce to bolster their access management process—all this can be executed remotely.
Fending off cyberattacks
A global pandemic might present an ideal opportunity for cyber criminals to carry out their dastardly deeds. It is crucial for IT teams to employ sound security practices and solutions to secure such virtual environments to stay compliant throughout the course, thereby circumventing unnecessary financial burden in the form of hefty fines due to non-compliance.
Cyber criminals are constantly changing their attack strategies, so it is vital to detect and pre-empt attacks before they happen. This means organizations should ensure a healthy blend of proactive and reactive cybersecurity strategies and controls are in place before going all remote.
A proactive strategy typically involves assessing incidents, and hardening potentially vulnerable points before they can be exploited by hackers. This entails continuous risk assessments; stringent access management policies for business applications; disaster recovery; vulnerability testing; and more. Similarly, enterprises can take the time to educate their workforce about the best cybersecurity practices, such as the best practices to thwart malicious emails, spam files, and being aware of the warning signs of a potential cyberattack.
Control of a cyberattack also involves employing reactive security solutions that can ensure streamlined incident management, and a business continuity process for real-time threat monitoring and mitigation. Other reactive capabilities must include timely patching of software and hardware, continuous monitoring of events, real-time security and compliance auditing, and more.
With well thought-out security procedures, controls, and solutions in place, enterprises will have better chances of pre-empting and containing disasters and risks in the event remote work policies are enacted.
It is still too early to decide whether or not COVID-19 will transform the way IT teams work. However, organizations can navigate that extra mile to ensure the general preparedness of IT—by building a solid infrastructure with an impenetrable security perimeters, and sound IT management controls—so employees can quickly and easily transition from working on site and working remotely, with negligible or zero operational bottlenecks and constraints.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and ETCIO.com does not necessarily subscribe to it. ETCIO.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly