With the recent events forcing an estimated 62% of employees to work remotely, organizations are fully preoccupied with the challenges associated with the magnitude of the transformation.
Many are struggling to manage and protect mission-critical IT resources from cyber threats. According to a survey by CNBC, 36% of business executives believe that the increase in remote employees has led to an increase in cybersecurity threats. Another survey conducted by Trend Micro indicates that remote employees are not adhering to IT best practices. Although cyber-awareness has increased and now stands at 72%, many bad habits persist.
Apart from cybersecurity issues, the success of the migration to the remote workforce has also been impeded by less-than-optimal technology capabilities. Therefore, effective migration to virtual environments in this magnitude requires extensive management of IT resources for remote work.
Here are some considerations and tips to help organizations manage and protect IT resources for remote employees:
Managing and Mitigating Risk
Managing IT resource security for remote employees should include updating and communicating cybersecurity policies with employees. 51% of surveyed remote employees cited technology as the main factor to improve productivity. Therefore, organizations have to:
- Provide robust IT environments for a remote workforce.
- Create secure access points for different remote work models.
- Refresh and update cyber incident response and recovery plans.
- Anticipate and develop resiliency options to mitigate the effects of disruptions.
Trend Micro’s survey also indicated that 64% of employees are using non-work apps on corporate devices. “It illustrates that current approaches to user awareness training are falling short,” says Trend Micro. According to Mark Gaudet, product manager at CIRA, “phishing attempts are one of the top issues” frustrating IT managers. So, IT managers should:
- Communicate cybersecurity awareness messages regularly.
- Use tailored cybersecurity awareness messaging to remote workers to detect and avoid phishing threats.
- Teach remote workers how to how the use of Wi-Fi securely, separate personal and work activities, and secure corporate data online.
- Highlight the threats posed by USB.
- Communicate the importance of using approved cloud services or data center storage.
Communicating these points regularly will enable organizations to drill in the importance of existing cybersecurity policies and reinforce security procedures.
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Managing IT Infrastructure
According to a recent survey, 26% and 24% of remote employees say that technological computer accessories and upgraded work computer enhance their productivity. This is important to manage IT infrastructure. Remote workforce managers should:
- Enforce regular software updates.
- Provide secure access solutions given that 85% of employees surveyed by Trend Micro say that they take cybersecurity issues seriously.
- Provide solutions with sufficient capacity to support a large number of remote employees.
- Offer security protection on endpoints to boost the security of IT resources.
- Rules like geo-blocking should be reassessed to guarantee 24/7 access.
According to ServiceNow, tech issues are the top barrier to productivity for 37% of Canadian remote employees. So, organizations have to increase IT help desk capacity as well as hours of operation to meet the increase in demand for services as the number of remote employees grows.
Managing Cyber Operations
When it comes to remote work, cybercriminals are more likely to find security vulnerabilities in cyber operations. According to a recent survey, 71% of security professionals reported an increase in security threats or attacks since the start of the crisis. Therefore, IT managers should:
- Focus more on managing and protecting cyber operations.
- Create a shared channel for employees to report suspicious activities for a quick response.
- Collect and analyze cybersecurity alerts and audit logs of VPNs, firewalls, critical apps, and so on for early detection and response to suspicious activities.
- Restrict employees’ access based on their roles by reviewing and updating VPN profiles and firewall rules.
- Use multi-factor authentication for critical information systems and VPN.
- Implement approval provisioning and de-provisioning procedures for remote VPN and critical business apps accounts.
- Block remote workers’ devices from accessing the internet at sensitive periods by disabling split tunneling for their VPN profiles.
Another Canadian survey found that most remote workers are happy with the transition to remote work, but more has to done to attain the level of productivity enjoyed before the crisis. Regardless of the prevailing situation and the challenges, IT departments should leadership and steer their organizations forward. “You must fight with the army you have.”