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Corona Virus – how to work from home; be cyber safe & productive

12/03/2020

If you work within a small or medium business, here are some handy tips on how you can gear yourself up to work from home, get stuff done, and keep team morale up without exposing yourself to additional IT security risk.

Should you or one of your team need to self isolate for 14 days (see health.gov.au page for specific criteria, which is updated frequently), you will be faced with a tricky question unless you’re prepared — how do I or my team member get things done when they aren’t actually sick, but they can’t be in the office? After all, businesses don’t magically work without people.

Importantly, how do you mitigate cybersecurity risk by having team members working from home? Corona virus isn’t the only virus you’ll need to worry about if you don’t have some basic plans in place.

Do’s and Don’ts to work from home for SMB’s

Do: Talk to your IT provider RIGHT NOW.

    • Your IT team is going to be very busy very soon. Get in early to avoid disappointment.
    • Get them to confirm what remote access and work from home options you’ve got available NOW, and what could be available with minimal effort.
    • If your remote access option is VPN, ask your IT if that “PPTP VPN”, or “SSL VPN”. PPTP VPN is far less secure than SSL VPN, and doesn’t work if hotspotting off some smartphones, and your IT need to change to SSL VPN straight away.
    • Ask them to check stock of laptops and web cams. You may need them soon.

Do: If budget allows, provide your staff with laptops, rather than have them take their desktops home.

Desktops are cumbersome, often don’t have WiFi built in, and the less tech-savvy staff may struggle to get it all plugged in correctly. If budget doesn’t allow, consider what the cost is to have your staff member unavailable for 14 days or more?

Do: Consider what company data is stored on laptops or computers your staff are using at home.

If the persons role is important enough to need to work from home, their role likely deals with important data. Encrypt this data. Ask your IT team to assist straight away.

Do: Consider the insurance and liability of the devices your staff member has taken home.

If their home is broken into and their work computer is stolen or damaged, is this covered by your insurance, or theirs? Have the discussion with your insurance broker AND your staff.

Do: Hold virtual meetings with your clients and suppliers via web conference

It’s easy – if you’re using Microsoft Office365 you have access to Teams, which has kickass multi-camera video conferencing ability built in. You can also use Zoom, WebEx, and many other online tools. You’ll just need a webcam (which most laptops already have), or for larger rooms something like the Logitech web conference equipment, which works great. If your IT team can’t help you with this, maybe it’s time to get another IT team.

Do: Hold team standups and briefings with virtual meeting tools like Teams.

Isolation sucks, and virtual face to face time will help with the morale of your team. A simple webcam on a laptop can do the trick.

Do: Kill germs!

Keyboards & mice are notoriously disgusting with germs and bacteria. If a team member is returning from self isolation back to the office, make sure that dirty ass keyboard goes nowhere near your office without a thorough disinfection.

Do: Consider if you need to have your telephones diverted or routed somewhere if your office will be empty or at skeleton staff.

If you have a staff member working from home with a cloud based VOIP solution, they may be able to take the handset home, or even use an app on their smartphone to connect into the phone system itself! This will help them feel connected to the rest of the team, and the world. And most importantly, like they can make a contribution!

Don’ts

Don’t: Let your staff use their own personal home computer for ANYTHING relating to work.

By doing so and trying to save a buck, you could be opening up your company network to insecure and virus riddled computers. Next thing, you’re hacked, or the IT type of virus has infected your network. Home computers aren’t under the same security policies that work computers are; and if you have no control over your staff members personal computer. Don’t do it.

Don’t: Let your staff use any other form of BYO device, to connect to the company network.

This includes iPhones, Android phones, tablets, and the like. For the same reasons as above. The situation is looking to be perilous enough for many businesses, so don’t add unnecessary risk.

Don’t: Let your staff let their kids or other family use your company-owned computer while it is at their home.

This is a security issue, whether from viruses and malware when the kids try to download the wrong Minecraft or Fortnite, and from a privacy perspective – what if a family member accidentally opens up information that is supposed to be private and confidential to your company?

Don’t: Let your staff stay connected to the corporate network when they’re not using the computer.

Security over convenience.

Don’t: Let your staff buy their own computer from a store to use it at home, even if the company will own it..

…without first having IT inspect it, and get it ready for the corporate network. This’ll ensure that the system complies with the company security and antivirus requirements.

Don’t: Be in the dark ages

Technology is so powerful now, we can almost work from anywhere.  You can have people electronically sign contracts with products like DocuSign so you don’t need to visit them, hold web meetings with Teams, Zoom, and GoToMeeting, work anywhere there’s an internet connection! But you need to talk to your IT team about it as early as possible.

Don’t: Expect your IT team to work miracles, even though they do it every other day.

Yes, we’re all really good at what we do – often considered to be heroes and heroines, some may even suggest, we are Godlike .. but if your IT team is anything how we are, we’re flat out. Engage with your IT as early as you can with what your work from home plan needs to be, and be realistic at how fast they can respond, address issues, implement remote access solutions or video conferencing solutions, and the like.

 

In summary

Most of the items above are really just common sense, but in times of perceived crisis, common sense is in short supply just like toilet paper.

With a bit of planning, rational thinking, and common sense, the effects of Corona virus on your team and business productivity will be easier to manage. Plus, the virtual Teams meeting for beer-o-clock on Friday has become a little more boozy cause no-one needs to drive home. 🙂

About activIT systems

We take care of IT and computing for small and medium businesses, throughout Australia. With offices in Western Australia and Tasmania, and representatives in every other state and territory, we’re well equipped to assist businesses with outsourced IT and IT managed services. We offer every day support, consulting and strategy, cybersecurity, and cloud solutions – including Microsoft Teams, SSL VPN’s, and all the good stuff above to help your business ride out COVID19.

If your current IT provider has you feeling feverish, achy, and like self isolating every time you deal with them, get in touch with us.

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Offering a wide range of IT solutions, and located in Perth, WA, and Devonport, Tasmania we service all of Australia and we'd love to hear from you!

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