Technology continues to revolutionize our world and impact our daily lives. It has created astonishing tools and resources. It puts information at the tips of our fingers. 2020 launched the use of many new technologies that will impact us all well into the future.
2020 has also challenged businesses in every industry to adapt to this new world. Computers are increasingly faster, more portable, and higher-powered than ever before to accommodate the work from home model many businesses have adopted this year. Since remote work comes with a unique set of challenges, you’ll need a unique set of tools to tackle them. Let’s take a look at some tools that your business should be adopting in this coming year to protect your data and other digital assets.
Remote Workforce Device Management
The simplest way to manage your business devices for a remote workforce is with a managed IT services provider that uses a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool. This tool enables service providers to remotely and securely monitor your devices, proactively fix issues on desktops, laptops and server systems, as well as automate patches, software updates and other routine tasks.
Remote Work Tools
Remote Desktop Connections
Ensuring your staff connects to your network in a secure manner doesn’t have to be challenging. Remote Desktop applications allow a remote staff to access programs, files and network resources even when they aren’t in the office. Microsoft’s Remote Desktop client is built into Windows and is also available as a Mac download. Be sure to use a traditional or cloud solutions Virtual Private Network (VPN) to make certain the connection is secure. A VPN creates a secure tunnel between the device and your network. Your managed service provider can help ensure this is set up correctly to ensure optimum IT security.
You've probably already used some form of multi-factor authentication (MFA) while logging into your bank account or Google. If you've ever been asked to enter a code texted to your phone when logging into a website, you've used MFA. Since we last talked about MFA back in August, it has become more widely used by businesses across all industries that want a more advanced level of security. This technology is also being adopted by the IRS, who announced in December that they will be adding this to its online tax preparation products this year.
Multi-factor authentication offers many security benefits. It helps organizations feel more comfortable using a tool like single sign-on (SSO). Just as the name suggests, single sign-on allows users to log into the network and applications with just one login. Single sign-on is a favorite among employees because it greatly simplifies network access.
Free MFA tools are a great option, but they cannot be managed at a company level and often rely on the more cumbersome authentication methods like texts and codes. Starting at as little as $3 per user, you can upgrade to a product like Duo. Duo "push notifications" are as easy as tapping a button. Products like Duo also give your management and IT teams better control and oversight.
These days it’s rare to see a week without news of another security breach involving stolen passwords, credit cards and other sensitive data. We all have too many passwords to remember, and most of us would rather wash the dishes than change our passwords again. Hackers know this and are primed to take advantage. Your backup and disaster recovery plan should include a password manager to reduce or prevent breaches. A password manager reduces one of the biggest security risks—using the same password on multiple sites—by storing all of your (unique) passwords in an encrypted database secured by the only password you have to remember. Just be sure to make that master password as long and complex as possible!
Collaboration and Productivity
Working remotely means you need a way to seamlessly communicate with your team. Of course, you can use email, but it doesn’t give you instant access or the same connection a team collaboration tool does. With an increased emphasis on video calls this year, tools like Microsoft Teams allow you to schedule meetings – complete with an agenda – or hop onto spontaneous calls with your team. There are also extensive collaboration features, including integration with Microsoft Office suite tools like OneDrive for collaborating on documents. Integration with OneNote allows you to easily share meeting notes and ideas. The OneNote app also includes ‘to-do’ tags, the ability to mix media and allows for clipping and saving with a single click.
Keeping your Office secure
If your team has adopted a hybrid work model, it can seem challenging to simultaneously manage and mitigate security risks that occur both in and out of the office. You may have already employed a layered security approach to protect your business and your data. Is there anything else you can do?
Encrypted Traffic Inspection
When you visit a website, such as your bank, check out the full address. It should begin with “HTTPS”. The “S” means it is secure or encrypted. As of Nov 2019, the amount of HTTPS encryption traffic exceeded 90%. Most firewalls are set to preapprove these sites. But hackers caught on and are embedding malware into these encrypted sites. Many security tools – including your firewall – might not detect malware in encrypted traffic, allowing it to pass through unnoticed. This means your firewall needs to be configured to protect against this.
Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) allows for the inspection of this encrypted traffic. The encrypted traffic is decrypted by the firewall, scanned for threats and then re-encrypted and sent along to its destination if no threats or vulnerabilities are found. This provides an additional layer of security. Your IT support provider can review your systems to find out if your firewall is properly protecting you against these threats.
Any business that uses computers or mobile phones, stores client data and accepts credit cards is vulnerable to attack, regardless of its location, size, or industry. As a business owner, you understand that protecting your company from cyber threats is now part of everyday life and you take steps to reduce your risk. But the reality is, there is no such thing as being 100% secure; despite implementing the best security technology and employee training, incidents do happen.
A combination of prevention and insurance coverage is recommended because there are often post-incident recovery costs to consider. These costs include legal fees, computer data restoration costs, litigation costs, regulatory fines and more. Without coverage, the recovery costs alone could put affected companies out of business.
Want to know more about what to expect of IT in 2021? Schedule a meeting or a conversation with one of our experts today. And join us on January 21st at 9:00 AM as we chat with Mike McGee from Crest Insurance Group who will be discussing what cyber insurance does (and does not) cover and the importance of cyber insurance as a financial safeguard – not just a preventative measure.