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Crisis Dominoes - Why Cybersecurity Matters in the Age of Remote Work

Crisis Dominoes: Why Cybersecurity Matters in the Age of Remote Work

Posted by   | 31-03-2020

As the world comes to grips with a global pandemic, business leaders are faced with big decisions about how to support their workforce's in new ways. We know that everyone’s top concern is health and safety—for ourselves, our families and our teams. We also know many organizations are struggling to manage the business consequences of COVID-19.

The pandemic situation evolved so fast that many companies didn’t have an opportunity to adequately prepare for remote work. If your IT infrastructure and work processes weren’t designed for a fully (or even mostly) remote workforce, there are security vulnerabilities that can create a domino effect of new problems in an environment that’s already under pressure.

Solving one problem can create another

Whether your organization is new to remote work or you already have some ability to accommodate remote work arrangements, it’s critical to have cloud-based security to support your business processes. Why? Because your remote devices and corporate apps are your lifeline to service continuity: You truly can’t afford to have them compromised, and the risks are greater than they are in your “normal” corporate IT environment.

As our team at ThinkOn continues to provide IaaS support in this uncertain environment, we see our partners facing these security challenges, both in supporting newly remote worker and protecting their existing infrastructure. Every day, our team is working with our top-tier partners to answer a surge of new security-related requests.

Drawing on my 20-plus years of IT experience, I would like to share some key lessons for other IT leaders to consider.

Creativity and “making do” can make things worse

When people start working from home, it’s challenging to maintain good file management protocols, especially if the infrastructure and processes aren’t in place to support remote file sharing. The fact is, humans are creative and we’re great at finding work-arounds that allow us to access information, share and review documents, and generally keep things moving. Most often, though, these work-arounds put your business data and apps at risk.

What does that look like in practical terms? Instead of saving documents to a corporate cloud, people download files to individual devices; they share them via email, and version control gets increasingly challenging. The longer our remote work arrangements last, the more risk there is of losing track of valuable corporate information.

Even if the files live on corporate devices in employees’ homes, if those devices aren’t connected to the cloud, the files aren’t available to everyone who needs access to them. It’s also impossible to replace the files if a device is compromised, damaged or lost. At the very least, you need a back-up and recovery system that will save that data to the cloud.

Cyber threats never take a break

The unfortunate truth is that cyber attackers take advantage of crises to exploit new vulnerabilities, and people working in new environments are less likely to spot threats. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has noted that “malicious cyber actors are quick to take advantage of high-profile events, particularly those that cause worry and concern.” They also reported an increasing number of phishing attempts connected to COVID-19.

If an employee accidentally clicks on a malicious ransomware link, their laptop—their primary and perhaps only tool that allows them to work—could be irreparably damaged. If that device is connected to the cloud, such as through your corporate email application, then your corporate app is also vulnerable. If one of your key employees or business applications is out of service, the impacts could be devastating. In a worst-case scenario, the ransomware could also breach your broader infrastructure, including your back-up files, creating an even bigger crisis for your IT team.

Data protection starts at home

Work-from-home solutions like Office 365 make it easy for people to use familiar tools to do their work. As remote workers rely exclusively on collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams and OneNote, along with email and the rest of the Office 365 suite, you can’t afford to lose that data, whether by accident or from malicious activity.

While Office 365 does provide some security and data recovery tools, it wasn’t designed to be an all-in-one back-up solution; it has limited back-up and retention policies and hard-deleted data is impossible to recover. Put more simply, once the recycle bin on your desktop is empty, that data is unrecoverable. You need a complete disaster recovery solution that doesn’t leave gaps.

Everyone needs a safety net

In times of crisis, it’s tempting to focus only on what’s immediately in front of us, but that leaves us vulnerable to other risks that can make a bad situation unbearable. Storing and backing up data securely is one of your key defenses. ThinkOn can help you do that.

ThinkOn has deep experience helping organizations work securely, no matter where people work. As a Veeam Platinum Cloud Service Provider, our Veeam IT team provides a complete backup solution that not only secures endpoints like desktops and laptops, but also your entire Office 365 suite of applications as your workforce shifts to remote work.

With Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 and RansomGuard powered by Veeam Cloud Connect, you can recover all of your Office 365 and desktop application data using one software suite, creating more space for you to focus on your other core needs without having to worry about the dominoes falling over.

As we adjust to these uncertain times, let’s prevent problems while we have the opportunity. While we secure ourselves and our loved ones, your organization’s data also needs to be secure, including the devices that employees use at home to stay connected to work.

ThinkOn can help, and we’re just a phone call or click away. We have some of the smartest people in the business ready to help you secure your physical devices and your organization’s data.

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