Business Continuity in Challenging Times

Business Continuity in Challenging Times

It is never too soon to consider what your business will do in the event of a disaster–a cyber attack, a natural disaster, or an epidemic. In the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine, many businesses have still managed to continue operating with employees working from home. These times have been a test of any business continuity plan and have also proved the need to have a plan in place. Read on to learn more about developing and refining a plan for your business in these challenging times.  Business Continuity Goes Beyond Data A key element in any business continuity plan is handling data—storage, transmission and protection. Data is the lifeblood of your business, and must be readily available and kept safe from loss and compromise. Questions to consider include whether data will be stored on site, in the cloud, or both; which mission – critical data needs to be readily available; and how that data will be backed up. Also, how do you protect proprietary information with employees working remotely, under varying conditions? With employees working remotely, the risks are higher. If there is a cyber attack, who will handle it, and how? Another consideration is the human element — caring for employees and customers during the on-going quarantine.   Caring for Employees and Customers This pandemic–or any disaster–offers an opportunity for companies to become trusted leaders for employees and customers alike. According to CompTIA, one way to guide employees through a disaster situation is to communicate proactively with them. You can share both good and challenging news with them, in order to reassure them. Topics to talk about with...
Choosing the Best Cloud Environment for Your Business

Choosing the Best Cloud Environment for Your Business

Cloud computing, once an emerging technology, is now common, and is proving valuable in this time of remote work resulting from the COVID-19 quarantine. To access data and applications, all that is needed is a computer and an Internet connection. Each type of cloud environment–public, private, and hybrid–comes with its own benefits and considerations. Read on to learn more about what each offers, and to consider which is best for your business.  Benefits and Considerations of Public and Private Cloud Environments  While all cloud environments have benefits, your business’ needs will impact which one you choose. Public cloud, often used by businesses, schools, and government organizations, is the least expensive, and is easily accessible. All that’s needed is a computer with access to the Internet. Public cloud, like other cloud environments, is flexible and easily scalable, depending on how much demand your business receives. A consideration is sharing computing resources with other entities, and how much bandwidth is available. Another question to ask your IT professional is security of data during migration to the public cloud, and once it resides there. Private cloud environments, in contrast, can help a company keep its data and applications secure, since the public cloud environment is used exclusively by one organization. For organizations needing to follow data-protection regulations, they might ask about private cloud. Private cloud has the same flexibility as public, with added security.  Considering a Hybrid Cloud Environment  A hybrid cloud environment is a combination of on-premise, third-party, public cloud and private cloud, with some infrastructure owned and used by a business, and some owned by a cloud service provider. A...
Keeping Your Network Secure in the Era of Remote Work

Keeping Your Network Secure in the Era of Remote Work

Approximately two months have passed since the beginning of social distancing, and working from home has become the norm. Virtual private networks are a way for remote workers to access the business’ system from home and therefore keep working, and these networks need to stay strong and secure. Read on to learn more about maintaining this link between your employees and your business. Keeping the Network Secure Because your workers access your network from a variety of locations, there are many more places for malware or other intrusions to enter. In order to prevent unauthorized access, the starting point is training workers to access the network. They will need a strong password that cybercriminals cannot guess. The connection itself will need to be secure, limited to a work-issued computer on the network, one with the most current antivirus and anti-malware definitions. By this time, employees need to understand how to recognize and avoid social engineering schemes such as phishing, and to report any suspicious emails. Protecting Your Work Equipment Having up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware equipment is vital, and so is physically protecting work equipment, especially that provided by the employer. If possible, work in a separate office. When not working, equipment needs to be off, and the door locked in order to prevent theft or unauthorized access. Keeping the equipment physically safe increases the chances of keeping it (and the network it connects to) safe from cyber attacks, as well. If an office isn’t available, the worker can indicate that equipment is off-limits by closing the laptop or covering the desktop computer and telephone.  Physically protecting work equipment, and...
Cybersecurity in Challenging Times

Cybersecurity in Challenging Times

In these unprecedented times, we spend more time than ever on various devices, using them both for work and recreation. As in other difficult times, heroes rise to the occasion. However, so do bad actors, seeking to take advantage of the situation. Read on to learn more about protecting yourself from cyber attacks. Hazards to Watch For Cyberattacks are on the rise these days, with bad actors looking to take advantage of the situation, playing both on people’s fears, and their desire to help others. As ever, though, we can protect ourselves using tools along with caution and common sense. Social engineering schemes, including phishing attacks, are used to gain confidential information from unwitting victims or to install malware on their devices. For instance, a person might receive emails that look like ones from credible organizations, and these emails capitalize on fears of COVID-19. Cybercriminals might use “spoofing” as a tactic, making an email seem like it’s from someone you know. It might contain an urgent appeal to buy items for a relative because the “sender” is in quarantine. Other possibilities are ads for items like masks or stories about vaccines and cures for COVID-19.  Keep Your Network and Your Employees Secure Many businesses now have employees working remotely, accessing the business’ computer network. The first tool that can help keep the network secure is a virtual private network (VPN) that workers can use to safely access files and applications. Other tools that should be part of the arsenal are current antivirus and anti-malware definitions. Remind workers of common-sense precautions like not clicking on links or attachments. If they...
Requirements for Remote Office

Requirements for Remote Office

With remote workers becoming the ‘new normal’ in these strange times, remote office security and communication become increasingly important. Read on to learn more about preparing your employees and business for remote work. Remote Office Security Best Practices Let remote workers know they are just as responsible for keeping the network safe at home as at the office. Have them maintain a dedicated work space in their home office, where they do only work, and not personal, computing. Physical security is important too; make sure that other family members, if any, don’t have access to equipment used for work. The remote worker will need to conduct phone calls where any confidential information can’t be overheard. Anything the remote employee prints should be shredded after use. Another good practice is keeping the office door locked if not in use. Logging off is an important practice, even if only leaving the computer for a moment. If the remote employee is using their own computer, it needs current anti-malware and antivirus protection, backup and  operating system patches. A firewall with a subnet for personal vs. business should also be established. Businesses responsible for complying with regulations such as HIPAA have even more stringent security requirements. Learn more about managing a mobile workforce here.  Just as you’ve been busy, so have cybercriminals. A common practice is phishing using social engineering. A cybercriminal can send an email that looks like it’s from a government source, providing links to sites that will automatically download ransomware. Remote employees need to be trained how to verify if the email is genuine; if it isn’t, they need to...
Disaster Preparedness – COVID-19

Disaster Preparedness – COVID-19

The World Health Organization provides guidance for businesses and employers about the Coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19. Around the world, officials in government, education, and industry are preparing for a prolonged epidemic. That could include significant shifts to the day-to-day economy–school closures, remote work requirements, and sequestered populations are all possible. Just as we need to be prepared for hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, earthquakes, and fires, the workplace must be prepared for pandemics and epidemics like the coronavirus. Read on to learn about business considerations.  Enable Your Employees to Work Remotely No matter where you live or what industry you work in, it’s time now to prepare for telecommuting work from your whole team. Having an emergency telecommuting plan in place before a disaster strikes can keep your business functioning while your employees stay busy in the safety of their own homes. Make Sure Remote Work Connections are Secure  What supports remote work is the technology that makes it possible. Remote access software allows you to remotely control a computer from a different location and device (a laptop at home). That way you can access all your apps, files, and information, just like physically sitting at the office. In addition, VPNs (virtual private networks) can provide secure access to sensitive data housed on private networks. Using a VPN, your public Internet connection is encrypted and your online activity is shielded. However, home computers using a VPN to connect to an office network can still present cybersecurity problems—if a unprotected home computer happens to get ransomware, it can adversely impact your organization.. Can Your IT Provider Service you Remotely? Consider Managed...