Several businesses in the United States are now going back to business after what seemed like an eternal lockdown imposed to curb the novel Coronavirus. However, health officials are warning of a potential second wave of the pandemic later in October or even earlier than that.
If there is one crucial takeaway from the epidemic experience, then it is the need to prepare adequately for any eventualities. The world economy saw a dip, with the U.S. recording about 4.8% sink in GDP.
Those who capitalized on the benefits of IT got some reprieve. The pandemic has revolutionized how we define an ideal workplace. We are learning that a mobile workforce is not a bad idea, after all.
If you are to survive the second wave predicted for the Fall, my team at 360 Smart Networks recommends you must proactively prepare your IT for the worst-case scenario.
Invest In Your Employees
As your workers are increasingly operating from home, you need to invest in their home office environments as you would with your in-office settings. This includes investing in equipment, desks, chairs, and whatever helps make their home office environment suitable for remote work.
For starters, you can give each employee a budget for purchasing what they need to outfit their home office workplace, based on requirements you set forth for them. You may also consider giving them a monthly stipend to help with offsetting the costs of working at home.
A modern mobile workforce is the future of business operations, even post-COVID. It gives you a competitive edge above your competitions by enabling your staff to work from anywhere anytime, regardless of the prevailing circumstances.
The investment should not be a one-time affair, but rather a continuous process aimed at establishing a robust mobile workforce that can work from home for a long time.
Augment Your Systems’ Cybersecurity
The fact that there has been an exponential increase in cybercrime all through the COVI-19 period is no secret. Speaking to The Hill, Tonya Ugoretz — the assistant director of FBI’s cybercrime department — affirmed that cyberattacks have increased fourfold since the pandemic began.
Why this sudden aggravation? There is an influx in the number of employees working at home. Most of them are using company-given gadgets or personal computers. These devices are not fitted with robust security features as those in the office. Cyber Attackers are weaponizing this vulnerability to launch attacks on the unsuspecting workers.
The other reason could be fear and panic caused by the pandemic. Any malware-infected link purporting to be demystifying Coronavirus can easily dupe your staff. The most common attack has been email phishing. Affirming this, the United Nations disarmament chief has stated that cybercrime is on the rise with a 600% increase in malicious emails during this crisis.
Moving Forward… How Do You Improve Your Cybersecurity For The Second Phase Of Covid-19, And Beyond?
- Implement strong password regulations like password expiration and complexity. For extra security, enforce encryption, DMARC, and two-level authentication protocols for all your employees’ gadgets.
- Regularly update your systems. Proactive platforms like Windows have a culture of adding new security features to address emerging threats. Updating ensures you have the latest and safest versions.
- Deploy VPN security for all online transactions, especially those conducted without the office. What VPN does is change the paths of online activities from the more vulnerable ISP to a secure private VPN server. The company data is not stored in the workers’ PC. They are directly transferred to the private server.
Many data breaches can be prevented by implementing necessary cybersecurity measures.
Train Your Employees
With the pandemic forcing most workers to operate from their homes, they need to acquire additional skill sets. There is no more secretary to jot things down for them or an IT specialist to physically monitor their computers.
What this demands is an all-round staff. Impart them with the requisite programming and automation skills.
It would be best if you also intensified training them on cybersecurity awareness. Specifically concentrate on online threats identification, immobilization, and mitigation. Research shows that even the least productive cybersecurity campaign has a sevenfold ROI.
A well-structured training session alleviates the impact of any cyberattack by 72%. A typical training exercise comes in four steps:
- Pre-examination to help you know the awareness level of the staff, and identify areas that may need more emphasis during the training.
- Coaching them on cybersecurity literacy.
- Evaluation by launching simulated cyberattacks to appraise if they have understood the taught concepts.
- Follow-up by deducing the ROI and identifying concepts that could be further elaborated in the future.
Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility throughout the company, from the boardroom to the mailroom. Your employees are the number one security concern in the company and need practical training.
Make Better Financial Decisions
In case your firm strained to weather the lockdown economic scare, reevaluate your budgets for areas where you can save on cost without retrenching your IT staff.
Do not rush to reinstate employees who are on leave when you are still experiencing low customer traffic.
Moving forward, reconsider the talents you look for in new employees. They should have the skills to operate the latest technologies you plan to acquire. This saves you the cost of having to train them.
Reevaluate The Engagement With Your IT Service Provider
The pandemic provided a unique opportunity for IT service providers to bail their partners out.
Did your IT supplier help you transition to a mobile workforce smoothly? Were you left endlessly troubled about your systems’ security? What about a protracted network downtime that you thought could have otherwise been avoided?
Depending on your experience, you could consider seeking a more reliable IT support company.
The good news is that you have been informed way in advance of the likelihood of a second wave If COVID-19. You can either decide to act and save your future or wait to count your losses. The choice is yours to make.