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.
Here are five tips IT and cybersecurity professionals can implement to maintain a secure, seamless workflow for remote workers impacted by the coronavirus or other widespread pathogens.
1. Remove 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.
2. Ensure Access to Files and Productivity on Any Device - IT should seek 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.
3. 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.
4. Maintain Productivity Even in Spotty Coverage Areas - In the event that a wide swath of workers will need to socially distance themselves from the general public, 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 the 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.
5. Make it Safe and Easy for Employees - Even as organizations smooth the path to easy access for remote workers, they'll want to start thinking about 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.
Many 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 employees.
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.