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Remote Work & Beyond: Surviving and Thriving During COVID-19


Jeff Dotzler
Author: Jeff Dotzler Date: 03/26/2020

Best Practices for a Healthy Infrastructure

We live in crazy times. Now more than ever your organization is depending on you to keep your users connected, productive and protected.

Consider this a short primer for getting your users set up for remote work – and for ensuring your business can continue to support remote workers in a post-coronavirus world.

The Essentials of Sustaining a Remote Workforce

Transitioning to a mostly remote workforce takes more than sending your employees home with laptops. You also have to consider what they’ll need to stay productive – things like connectivity, file access, and collaboration tools.

VPN & Connectivity

First, how are your employees going to connect to your network? Letting your employees access your corporate network using their own home Wi-Fi or a public Wi-Fi source leaves you wide open to attacks from cybercriminals. Not to mention it makes your sensitive business data visible to the prying eyes of the internet.

While many companies use a remote access protocol like Windows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), it’s an imperfect solution. Yes, RDP does have basic security features like requiring a username and password. But passwords these days are easy for hackers to crack or steal. RDP also forces you to leave your network open to outside traffic. Since your employees must be able to access your network from wherever they are, your firewall has to allow anyone to visit your RDP login page. In short, using RDP alone leaves you vulnerable to a significant data breach or malware attack.

However, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates encrypted tunnels between your user’s device and an internet-connected server. It provides a much more secure way to log in to your network through RDP. Bad actors can’t see your company’s server on the internet, and they can’t see communication between your employees and your network.

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Collaboration

Now that your employees can securely access your network through VPN, they need collaboration tools. It’s hard to keep the teamwork juices flowing when everyone’s in separate locations.

You need a secure way to keep everyone connected in real-time. Microsoft Teams is rapidly becoming one of the most popular online collaboration tools. It offers secure video conferencing, chat, file sharing, and more and your team can keep having face-to-face meetings. You can easily store and share images and documents. And you can have individual and group chats. You can even video conference with people who don’t have Teams.

Here at the Gordon Flesch Company, Teams is an integral part of our day-to-day activities and keeps us connected to each other and to our clients.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Microsoft is offering special pricing on Teams to businesses, non-profits, governments, schools, and individuals. It’s easy to spin up and deploy – and it seamlessly integrates with Office 365. Temporary and permanent Teams options are available.

Security

There’s nothing like a global crisis to bring out the cyber bad guys. From phishing and social engineering to man-in-the-middle and malware attacks, your remote workforce brings many cybersecurity challenges. Are your current security protections up to the task?

At a minimum, you should have these basic protections in place:

  • Anti-virus
  • Inbound email filtering
  • Malicious attachment and link protection
  • Security for any cloud applications you use

Don’t find out the hard way that your cybersecurity measures are lacking. Assess your current security for gaps and start plugging the holes.

Preparing for the Long-Term Impacts of a Remote Workforce

Now that companies are investing in remote work infrastructure, experts predict that businesses will probably continue to let employees work outside the office even after the coronavirus has run its course.

If remote work will be our new reality, businesses need to ready themselves for the long-term implications.

Employee Training

Your users are your first line of defense against cyberattacks. Equipping them to recognize phishing emails, create stronger passwords, and use 2-factor authentication can create a powerful “human firewall” around your network.

But who has time to create an intensive cybersecurity training curriculum that your users will actually complete? Instead, partner with an organization that specializes in employee education and testing. Mimecast is one example. Their hilarious approach to user training is changing the way employees think about cybersecurity.

Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

No one wants to suffer a natural or digital disaster only to then discover their data is unrecoverable. That can be game over for your business. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you backing up ALL of your data?
  • Where are you backing your data up to?
  • What if your primary data backup is damaged or destroyed?
  • Are you following the 3-2-1 Rule?
  • How long can your business afford to down?
  • How quickly can your IT team recover your systems and data?

It’s vital to develop solid procedures for backing up your data and protecting your backups. Stream our free webinar for tools and tips for safeguarding your data – When Disaster Strikes: Cloud Backup and DR Planning.

Cybersecurity

No one vendor or solution is the magic bullet that prevents all threats. Instead, you need a variety of tools and resources working together to provide maximum protection for your devices, data, and networks. In other words, you need multiple layers of protection around your business.

A layered approach means having protection in place at critical points along the path a cyber breach takes. There are four basic security layers:

  1. Pre-network protection
  2. Breach notification
  3. Spread prevention
  4. Information security

Our free security assessment tool can help you determine your current status and next steps for establishing effective, layered protection. Fill out the assessment for free today by clicking here!

Mapping Out the Future

The tech landscape is always changing – your network must be able to change with it in order to effectively support your business. Does your company need to move to the cloud? Is your main server on its last leg? Will you have to be able to support an important new application?

Creating a plan for future upgrades, migrations, and installs helps you better budget and prepare for key changes. A crystal ball sure would come in handy right about now. But a vCIO is the next best thing.

Whether you have an in-house CIO or need vCIO services from your IT partner, they can help you determine what your infrastructure’s future should look like. With vCIO services from GFC, we’ll discuss best practices for your unique environment and map out a tech strategy for the coming months.

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Topics: Managed IT

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Written by Jeff Dotzler

Jeff has been with the Gordon Flesch Company for nearly 20 years, starting as a Sales Representative and working his way up to where he serves now as Director of our GFConsulting Group. He oversees a team that precisely aligns strategy and technology to help move customers’ businesses forward.

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