We are experiencing an unprecedented shift in our way of life and work as we adjust to the new normal. Companies have uncovered new challenges in the way they work. Solving those challenges falls on the shoulders of CTOs who need to reinvent the ways people and technology work together. 

Many companies have put a lot of effort into enabling virtual cooperation. It seems like the right time for CTOs to use technologies as the driving force of business transformation. This post will take a look at essential things to consider when adjusting to the new ways of work caused by the pandemic, as seen by Vishal Gupta, a Forbes contributor. 

Address the human side

According to Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, empathy is rising during the pandemic. Leaders who reflect on compassion will come away with more strength than ever before. The situation calls for a personalized approach and building trust – the right approach during these uncertain times. Unfortunately, there is no proven way to navigate the situation, but honesty, sharing, and hearing concerns can go a long way. Essentially, leaders need to communicate their decisions and show that they do everything in their power to ensure the teams adjust to the new reality. 

Recreate the comfort of the office at home

Before the pandemic, you probably have never imagined your company would be a distributed one. Today, leaders strive to help teams set up and work effectively from home. Some are snapping up laptops, desks, chairs, and other office paraphernalia. Others let staff take home their monitors from work or compensated for home office costs. 

The situation calls for considering both elements – people and technology. That means CTOs need to think about what the staff needs to be productive and comfortable working in a distributed environment. That includes collaboration and communication tools, computers, webcams, LAN cards (for poor broadband), and more. 

Read also: Working With Remote Teams: A Guide on Transitioning From Office to Remote Work

Building and promoting team camaraderie 

Company leaders are putting a lot of effort into maintaining morale during these uncertain times. Tools like MS Teams, Zoom, Slack have become our virtual headquarters. These tools help recreate camaraderie when team members are away from each other. They allow us to mimic a typical day at the office with daily meetings, watercooler talks, team lunches, and more. Most importantly, they help establish an operational rhythm where teams work as one and team members get to know each other, which alleviates the pressure of a sudden transition and helps build a strong culture. 

Securing your network 

Virtual access to your company network comes with significant challenges. In many instances, corporate VPNs are not designed for such a load. Employees often aren’t familiar with cryptographic tools and work through weak household routers from an unprotected home network. All of this removes all the stops for hackers. 

According to Zdnet, companies that run Pulse Secure VPN servers are still at risk of getting hacked, despite patching vulnerable systems, cyber-security agencies from the US and Japan have warned this month. 

VPNs are a significant target for cyber con artists. It’s incredibly vulnerable since they allow hackers to access any part of the enterprise. Remote security policies may include: 

  • Thorough authentication of all users and devices;
  • Following the Zero-trust principle, which implies a total absence of trust to the users, even inside the network. The principle dictates that each user or device must validate their data every time they request access to resources inside or outside the network.
  • Constant monitoring of activities inside the environment to identify threats early on. 

Ensuring scalability and security 

Even during the pandemic, organizations want to grow and evolve. As such, there is a need for scalable and secure solutions. In terms of security, it makes sense to limit remote employees’ access to the internal network, letting them only access areas they require. That decreases the number of vulnerabilities in the network. Combined with the zero-trust principle, companies can increase security and prevent cyberattacks. With the cloud in place, such security measures can be established throughout an entire organization. 

Read also: Transition to WFH: The Cost of Security

Accelerating Cloud Adoption

There is no denying that the cloud provides the necessary scalability and security for distributed teams. With a cloud solution in place, you can add and remove resources securely and implement your security policies. 

At the same time, it is essential to form cloud and data strategies from the standpoint of long-term remote work. 

From a security standpoint, it’s recommended that company leaders use the cloud onboarding factories to achieve the highest levels of transparency as to cloud workloads, optimization ways, reliability, and security. Cloud navigators help make the most of cloud efforts and eliminate the risks of a cyber attack. 

Unfortunately, joining the movement of remote work comes with massive security challenges and risks. Therefore, today is the high time to secure employees’ access to the internal network, data, applications. It’s also the right time to establish a strong communication and collaboration culture to thrive during this turbulent time. It’s incumbent on leaders to interweave new tech to ensure end-to-end security, scalability and address people’s needs while enabling a smooth transition to the secure and comfortable work from home. 

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The turbulent times of pandemic have upended the way companies see the workplace. The home office has become the new norm, even for companies that typically expected their staff to be at the office each day. 

It looks like the remote policies adopted during the quarantine are here to stay. 

Twitter and Facebook were among the first behemoths who announced their remote policies shortly after the state had imposed “stay-at-home” orders. Many companies are still figuring out the challenges, policies, and issues that come with distributed work. 

Cybersecurity challenges of working from home

We can be sure that a new era has come. The weight of transitioning and transforming businesses falls on business leaders’ shoulders as they figure out how to manage their distributed teams. 

Self-isolation and work from home is the right thing to during the pandemic. Unfortunately, the unprecedented shift to home-based without appropriate policies and employee training bears significant risks. In many instances, corporate VPNs are not designed for such a load. Employees often aren’t familiar with cryptographic tools and work through weak household routers from an unprotected home network. Moving away from standard security procedures removes all the stops for hackers. 

According to Itzik Kotler, a Forbes contributor, there are plenty of challenges in the cybersecurity that many companies face as they transition to an unsecured, distributed IT environment. The protection of assets behind the firewall means moving away from network security and developing an end-point security strategy for remote employees. Kotler says that creating such a strategy is a challenging but vital step. 

The primary concern is the scale. Last year, remote work was practiced by a considerably smaller amount of companies. In the pandemic times, companies need to adjust to the new norm and place stringent security measures for workers outside their internal network’s safety. That makes a sizable environment to secure. 

Connected devices are part of everyone’s life now. According to Statista, there are over ten connected devices per household in the U.S. Those devices are at risk of being compromised, meaning that it’s the security is not only limited by organization-issued laptops and smartphones. 

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many employees use their personally owned devices to access corporate data and systems. This way, employees introduce new potential vulnerabilities, such as weak passwords, poorly protected home Wi-Fi routers, and infected computers of other family members.

The author emphasizes that work from home should not take a toll on security. Any company that goes remote must place stringent security policies and establish mature processes to prevent data exposure. Each remote employee must adhere to those policies so as not to put the network at risk. 

Consider the following principals and questions when strategizing your remote security policy: 

  • Thorough authentication of all users and devices;
  • Following the Zero-trust principle, which implies a total absence of trust to the users, even inside the network. The principle dictates that each user or device must validate their data every time they request access to resources inside or outside the network.
  • Constant monitoring of activities inside the environment to identify threats early on. 

The important message here is that it’s incumbent on an organization to bring the security policies to employees’ attention. Expecting that the staff members will take the security matters into their own hands is futile. These questions will help your IT security department get off to a good start. 

  • What is the total number of people working remotely?
  • What their household environment looks like?
  • What information do they need access to in their role?
  • Are there any regulations that factor in?
  • Will they be using company-issued networking equipment? 
  • Who will they contact on work-related matters?
  • How much control over their household environment your IT department will need? 
  • Are any adaptations required to enable smooth scaling?

The most important question is, does your data and network’s integrity warrant the costs of security measures that inevitably come with the home-based transition? Security typically has a high value and largely depends on your organization size and the type of data you need to protect. 

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