The goal for many companies today is to make it as easy as possible for their employees to continue to work remotely. To do that, companies need to continuously adapt. It means having a plan to get equipment to remote workers — both existing and new employees — and make sure everyone can access files and protect their networks.
Smart Business spoke with AJ Jeffers, a Tier III Engineer at Blue Technologies, Inc., about strategies that can help ensure connectivity, continuity and security for a remote workforce.
How can remote employees access internal files securely?
Some companies hold essentially all their files on an internal server. When suddenly a couple hundred people are working remote and trying to connect back to this on-premises server, that creates issues with capacity and bandwidth. Additionally, many of the users may not have ever used a VPN before, so they could have trouble connecting.
Solving this typically means migrating a company’s file server to a cloud service. Many companies, before the pandemic, were using the cloud in some capacity, so it should be fairly easy to expand that usage and migrate more data from on-premises servers to the cloud.
Once a company has files in the cloud, the major benefit is that it’s accessible from anywhere. There’s also a process through which the security permissions that were granted prior to the migration can be maintained. Files stored in the cloud can be accessed through a browser, so there’s no longer a need to rely on a VPN, which could create bottlenecks if improperly configured.
What challenges exist getting hardware to remote employees?
Hardware deployment for new hires can be difficult. There’s typically a structured onboarding process on location to get new employees their hardware and walk them through setup. However, the pandemic has encouraged companies to move away from on-site onboarding. That led to hardware deployment being scheduled for individuals who would come in and pick up what they were assigned at specific times. But this created issues, particularly when it came to instructing new hires on how to use the hardware and software, logins, connecting to the cloud or VPN, etc. Since they were no longer on-site for the onboarding and training, any problems they had needed to be figured out at pick-up.
Some companies have since moved to touchless deployment through which hardware is shipped to the end user. That, however, brings on a list of issues and potential problems. Troubleshooting is one, but also shipping. Costs to ship have risen in the past two years and it can be unreliable, meaning equipment might not make it to the end user on their start date.
How are security issues being addressed?
Security is a major concern for companies as incidents of phishing attacks and other types of malicious email fraud have skyrocketed. One of the main reasons is a lot of attackers know that information has been made more accessible to accommodate remote staff, which potentially makes it more accessible to an attacker. To protect against such vulnerabilities, employees are encouraged to use multi-factor authentication, or use a service that leverages a network’s active directory credentials and ties them to a multi-factor authentication process. Staff will be able to access everything with one login so they’re not juggling different devices, accounts and passwords to access all of the resources they need while they still get the security that’s necessary.
Security awareness training on how to identify phishing campaigns adds another layer of protection. These training programs run a phishing simulation so employees can experience one. That’s then followed up with security awareness training. Implementing this can reduce the risk of falling victim to attack by more than 70 percent.
Challenges associated with the transition to a remote workforce are ongoing. There are, however, solutions. A managed services provider can help companies overcome these issues through dedicated support. They’ve worked with companies of many sizes and in many industries to develop strategies which ensure employees have the tools they need to stay productive, and keep information secure, when working outside the office.
Insights Technology is brought to you by Blue Technologies, Inc.