Preparing a long-term remote work strategy

As the global economy begins to reopen, businesses around the world have begun discussing strategies to get back to work. This concept is different across all sectors. Aside from retail, hospitality and restaurants, which faced some extreme examples of the shutdown, and now are truly reopening in many cases, the majority of businesses are actually only going back to their offices. For months, many organizations have continued to operate remotely. For individuals, going back to their former workspaces may not be the ideal scenario. With the impacts of the virus lasting for months or even years, many people may prefer to work from home or may need to continue working from home to protect their health. Good business strategy over the next few months needs to include how to help your employees work from home on a more permanent basis. Below, we’ve outlined some considerations for preparing a long-term remote work strategy. 

Support your staff

Preparing your workers for a long-term work from home scenario could have different implications for different businesses. For some, it may mean making sure that your workers have access to support and resources. For others, it may be upgrading work devices. For almost all businesses though, preparing your staff will also require training them on security measures and cybersecurity threats, while considering upgrades to corporate security systems and practices. 

Between January and March of 2020, attacks on internet-exposed RDP ports increased from 3 million to 4.5 million, with the most attacks happening in the U.S. (To be clear, one should never expose ones RDP ports directly to the internet). All around the world, businesses have experienced a surge of phishing scams and cybersecurity incidents. These attacks may be a  direct result of the increase of remote workers and preoccupation with the pandemic. These new threats are often not sophisticated or complicated; most are simple phishing scams that attract clicks by claiming they provide new information on the pandemic or the virus. 

This makes it the best time to remind your workers of what to look out for in cybersecurity threats. There are some simple ways to recognize phishing emails, which you can advise your employees to keep in mind while working remotely. These include:

  • Keeping an eye out for emails that ask for sensitive information or data.
  • Noting who the emails are addressed to. Legitimate emails will use your name, not a generic greeting.
  • Checking the sender’s email address. Phishing emails frequently have incorrect domain names or highly complicated email addresses.

Although these may sound like obvious reminders, people are increasingly preoccupied with their health, their family and other matters. Reminding them of these simple things to look for could save your company from a data breach. 

Improve cloud solutions

Implementing cloud solutions for file sharing was likely one of the first priorities when businesses began remote working. For the short term, publicly available cloud solutions, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, may have been effective enough to help your remote workforce. For the long term though, businesses may do well by investing in better, and more secure, cloud solutions. Typically, we advise using private cloud solutions as the most secure option, but lately, organizations have been opting to take a hybrid cloud approach instead. Whatever option you choose for your business, consider the security of the solution and what protective measures are in place to prevent cyber attacks. It’s also important to vet the provider for trustworthiness and experience.

Get a third party thread/risk/security assessment

If you have not done so recently, or have never done so, contract with an outside company for a thorough cybersecurity risk assessment now. Ideally, ensure this assessment includes a review of your network architecture and considers “perimeter-less” options like Zero Trust.

Consider distributed ledger technology

Data in traditional databases can be deleted and manipulated without consequence. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) enhances security, and may be the right choice to consider for many companies in a variety of industries.  For businesses that deal with extremely sensitive data, using DLT should be a priority, especially as cybersecurity breaches increase. Data and information is the most valuable asset in the digital age, thus it is important to take adequate precautions to keep all enterprise, client and employee data safe. 

The future of work

Whether you’re worried about another pandemic, or you just want to give more options to your staff, having a strategy in place to work securely from home should be an important consideration for any business. The pandemic has changed many things, and it has proven that remote environments may be the future of work. Doing it safely and securely, and protecting your most valuable information, should be the next step in any business strategy.