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A record number of businesses said goodbye to the traditional in-office work model in 2020. They embraced the remote work model as they adapted to the new COVID-19 reality. This switch to remote work was a huge shift that came with many challenges, and some of those challenges are still felt today.

One of those challenges was – and is – cyber security. Businesses wanted to get their remote workforce up and running, but there were a lot of questions about how they would keep their newly remote employees secure.

So, how can you enable remote work while keeping your business and your employees secure? How do you keep cybercriminals out? The answer is multifaceted. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to cyber security — that would make things much easier! But there are several steps you can take to help your remote team stay productive while keeping the cybercriminals out. Here are three things you need to do:

  1. Skip the public WiFi. This is Cyber Security 101. Never use unsecured, public WiFi, especially when working. For remote employees who have the option to work from anywhere, using public WiFi is tempting. It’s easy to access, but it comes with huge risks, including the potential to expose your device to intruders.Thankfully, there are plenty of options to help keep employees connected without having to worry about snoops. The most popular is the VPN, or virtual private network. VPNs allow remote workers to securely access the Internet, even through public WiFi. VPNs are ideal for remote workers who need to routinely access your network.Another option is the personal hotspot. This is a portable WiFi access point, usually paired with data service through a telecom like Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile. these devices give remote workers flexibility to work anywhere they can get high-speed data service. Because the remote worker is the only person on the hotspot (and should be the only person), there is less worry about hackers snooping for your data.
  2. Have a strong device policy. When it comes to cost-cutting, it can be appealing to let employees use their own devices while working remotely. Avoid this, if possible. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approach has its benefits, including keeping costs down. We need to keep in mind the security costs could be massive, especially if an employee gets hacked or misplaces crucial data. In short, BYOD can get complicated fast, especially for businesses unfamiliar with the BYOD approach.That said, many businesses work with an IT services company to create a list of approved devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones) that employees can use. Then those devices are loaded up with malware protection, a VPN, and other security solutions. So, while employees may be using a variety of devices, they all have the same security and other necessary software in order to perform their duties.The best device policy, however, is to provide employees with work devices. This ensures that everyone is using the same hardware and software, and this makes it much easier to keep everyone up-to-date and secure. It takes a little more effort logistically, and it has a higher up-front cost, but when it comes to keeping your business secure, it’s worth it.
  3. Don’t forget about physical security. While businesses are focusing on digital security right now, they’re not putting a similar focus on physical security. They may have a team of people working remotely spread across different neighborhoods, towns, states or countries. This mobility comes with the risk of device theft or loss.
    If employees will be carrying their work devices with them, those devices should be kept nearby at all times. That means never leaving work devices in vehicles or unattended at a café or airport (or any location). Never leave a device where it has the potential to be taken.It’s important to remind employees to not only keep their doors locked, but also keep work devices out of sight. You wouldn’t want to set up a home office in a room facing the street outside while leaving the windows open and the door unlocked. Just as cybercriminals are looking for ways to break into your network, criminals are looking for opportunities to take high-value items.

The way we work is changing, so we must be prepared for whatever happens next. Implementing these three steps will give you a starting point, but they aren’t the end point. Work with an experienced MSP to get the most out of your remote work approach. Businesses may not return to an in-office model, so the more steps we take to secure our businesses and our remote teams, the better off we’ll all be.

If you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

COVID-19 has forced companies large and small to rapidly retool the way they do business, with even the smallest businesses making remote work arrangements for employees. But while the pandemic has inspired an unprecedented surge of cyber attacks, including a heap of new security challenges for business, many small companies aren’t rewriting cyber security policies or implementing new security measures at the same rate as larger companies, and it seems the smaller the company, the fewer the changes.

With the economy beginning to contract, many small businesses may be struggling to find the funds or staff to address evolving cybersecurity concerns. Small businesses already make up 43 percent of cyber crime targets in the U.S., and in 2019, data breaches cost small businesses an average of $200,000, with 60 percent of those attacked going out of business within six months.

Improving cyber security might cost some money, but it’ll surely be worth keeping your business afloat — and it might even be cheaper than the cost of a data breach. Protecting yourself is often as simple as implementing a few smart policies, and using the right security tools.

Update Your Policies to Address the Realities of Remote Work

If you have employees working remotely during the crisis, you need to implement some policies that acknowledge the unique security risks of working from home. First of all, employees won’t be behind a company firewall, and might not have company security software running on their systems.

Require that employees access company data over a private network — anyone who doesn’t have access to a home network should be required to work onsite, where they can access a secure connection. Public connections, like those in coffee shops or libraries, might not be available anyway, and if they are, they’re not safe — hackers can jump on them to access your data. Clarify that employees shouldn’t save company data to their personal devices, including storage like flash drives, personal cloud storage, or personal email. All of these are insecure places to store data.

Use the Right Tools

Software solutions are available to give you and your employees the tools you need to stay secure while working in a challenging situation. Employees can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access your company’s internal network and even use a virtual desktop there, which provides both storage solutions and an extra layer of security.

Employees will also need endpoint security, including anti-malware protection and firewall protection. Advanced threat protection will include security for endpoints and other network devices and email, as well as malware protection. The best advanced threat protection offers real-time monitoring to catch breaches and other attacks before they do too much damage.

Train Your Employees

Of course, employees will need regular security check-ins to make sure their security features are optimized. However, they’ll also need additional training in cybersecurity, especially as everyone is on-edge and stressed-out at the moment — in other words, employees are more likely than ever before to be in the perfect state of mind to fall for a phishing email or other social engineering tactic. Regular training, even if it’s just videos and online quizzes, will help keep employees on their toes, and will maybe help you single out individuals who need further attention.

Supply Devices

If you can, it’s safest to supply your employees the devices they need to work from home. It’s more fair to the employees, who may otherwise have to use old or underpowered equipment, or scramble to come up with what they need on their own. But it’s not just about fairness — you have much more control over what happens on company devices, and you can, at least in theory, keep employees from using them for personal stuff. This can help keep hackers from compromising your company data, since you don’t know what emails your employees are answering in their downtime, or which questionable websites they might be visiting. Their personal devices could already be compromised.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been dangerous in all kinds of ways, some more predictable than others. Make sure your company is aware of the dangers COVID-19 poses for your cyber security, so you protect yourself on every front.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from smallbiztechnology.com  SOURCE

IT services are more critical than ever before, proving their value in the face of a health crisis and the abrupt shift to remote working. Here are some ways managed IT services providers (MSPs) are helping small companies leverage technology to support their remote teams and go about business as usual.

Providing infrastructure and service desk capabilities

In today’s digital work landscape, MSPs are keeping their noses to the grindstone to fulfill customer demands and help keep businesses running. While many small companies have taken the first step of transitioning to remote work, they still need help managing the logistics.

Right now, MSPs are providing customers with IT infrastructures and taking on a host of network tasks, including configuring hardware, establishing remote connections, and managing backup and storage options, among other activities. These all help to ensure that company networks are reliable enough to facilitate a remote workforce.

MSPs are also offering service desk capabilities, providing companies with a centralized resource for employees, customers, and business partners to answer questions, troubleshoot problems, and facilitate solutions. Appropriate and timely support is crucial, especially in times of great uncertainty.

Simplifying cloud adoption

Cloud solutions are ideal if IT environments must be quickly modified to meet changing demands or difficulties, which is why MSPs are now helping businesses leverage a variety of cloud technologies and even move their data and applications online.

And because cloud migration can get complex, many MSPs are also offering managed migration plans that help companies transition key workflows and processes to the cloud safely and efficiently.

Offering remote support where possible

The current travel restrictions and social distancing measures make work-related travel difficult and risky. And with highly distributed workforces, many companies would rather source local service technicians for break/fix assistance, cabling, and other IT solutions.

Partnering with MSPs ensures that systems and networks are protected all the time and critical support is provided within 24 hours. What’s even better is that some providers have technicians in different locations, making it easy to provide tools, resources, and support even in hard-to-reach areas.

Delivering flexible solutions

As business needs continue to shift, MSPs must move in lockstep and provide support wherever they can. Here are some other ways MSPs are helping their clients navigate these trying times:

Assisting with IT projects
Because of how broad and challenging IT projects can be, it’s not uncommon for companies to lack the right skills and resources to handle them. MSPs are helping them by providing the expertise and technologies needed to pursue these projects, allowing companies to keep moving forward.

Foregoing long-term contracts
Some companies need IT support and services but can’t afford to commit to long-term contracts. Similarly, some want to augment their IT only for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s great is many MSPs are providing flexible IT solutions, giving customers all the services and support they need, when they need them.

Offering faster response times
Especially now that downtime could likely spell the end of a business, companies seek quick turnaround times. Since MSPs typically offer 24/7 support and tout specialists with a wide range of experience and knowledge, they can proactively address issues and ensure that IT infrastructures are working as efficiently as possible.

Providing better customer service

As many businesses are still adjusting to the new normal, providing positive customer experiences will go a long way to earning trust and ensuring customer loyalty post-crisis. By being compassionate and empathetic to the situations of their customers, MSPs are showing companies that they’re navigating these trying times together.

Call our IT experts today to help configure the perfect remote work setup for your business.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE