Australian enterprises which have survived the pandemic need to put plans in place to ensure they’re not left scrambling next time disaster strikes, writes Mark Sinclair, ANZ Regional Director, WatchGuard Technologies.
Was yours one of the thousands of businesses forced to send employees home to work in a hurry, after the coronavirus pandemic was declared?
The Australian government’s sweeping shutdown restrictions caught scores of local enterprises on the hop. Makeshift arrangements were the norm in many sectors, as employers unaccustomed to remote working raced to provide their teams with mobile technology and develop ‘rules of engagement’ to ensure they remained productive while out of the office.
For those organisations, it’s been a salutary lesson in business continuity planning – and the benefits of undertaking it before, not after, disruption occurs.
So, what are some of the things you can do to enable your team to carry on, carrying on, if they’re forced out of the office again? Here are five ways to ensure your enterprise is in a better position next time round.
Make an inventory of your remote working technology
Know how many laptops and mobile devices your business owns and the number of VPN licences you’re paying for? How about whether your key workers have decent internet access, or a dial-up speed connection at home? Preparedness to work remotely starts with documenting the resources at your disposal and ensuring they’re ready to roll.
Sort out your solutions
Employees don’t just need reliable hardware when they’re on the job at home. They also require access to the data and applications they use to complete their regular tasks. That’s why part of your preparedness planning entails ensuring they can access those solutions remotely, without laying the organisation’s core systems and data open to compromise.
Create a remote working policy
During the pandemic, many organisations began their working from home ‘experiments’ with the best of intentions and swiftly realised that, in the absence of a remote working policy, they were operating on Rafferty’s rules; which is to say, no rules at all. Developing guidelines for remote workers, including their required availability and the platforms they should use to communicate and share data, prevents misunderstandings and makes expectations clear.
Review your cyber-security provisions
Hackers and cyber-criminals don’t head off on holidays when a crisis occurs. Rather, they ramp up their activities, in a bid to cash in on the confusion and uncertainty that abounds when events are unfolding rapidly. And while you may have cyber-security provisions in place to protect your operations during normal times, remote working can represent a new frontier of risk.
Safeguarding your systems and data from infiltration or compromise when your workforce is highly dispersed can require different tools and technologies from those which suffice when your team is in the office and under your eye.
An endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution may be necessary to protect employees working beyond the firewall. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) technology is also an excellent investment when employees are logging in to critical systems from afar. Requiring them to provide their credentials each and every time they access the network can give your business an additional layer of protection.
If you’re unsure whether your current security arrangements offer sufficient protection for a remote workforce, a security audit can provide you with additional recommendations, or else the peace of mind that you have things covered.
Foster a cyber-safe culture
Protecting your business against high-tech attack isn’t just about putting technologies in place to safeguard your ICT infrastructure. Your people can provide powerful protection too, provided you foster a culture of cyber-security which empowers them to stop phishers and hackers in their tracks. Encouraging your team to report potential threats, sharing stories and tips and rewarding cyber-safe behaviour can ensure your employees are a strong link in the cyber-security chain, whether they’re working in the head office, or from home.
Time to act
The COVID-19 crisis has been a wake-up call for Australian businesses which haven’t previously given sufficient thought to business continuity planning. Being better prepared will make it easier for your enterprise keep calm and carry on, next time disruption occurs.